Affordability and sustainability outcomes: a triple bottom line assessment of traditional development and master planned communities

Sustainability Economic development Evaluation Precinct indicators Triple bottom line Australia

In volume one of the final report of this project, John Blair, Deo Prasad, Bruce Judd, Robert Zehner, Veronica Soebarto and Richard Hyde use existing residential development case studies to develop a methodology for assessing the sustainability (economic, social and environmental) of different types of housing and urban development.

Urban development, including housing, often brings significant environmental problems. An important aim of government is to provide housing which is affordable and which simultaneously reduces environment impacts. To this end, all levels of government in Australia are beginning to incorporate principles of environmental sustainability into urban development, especially new housing. However, there is little evidence to suggest how effective sustainability policy has been. This research has used a suite of triple bottom line (TBL) indicators covering the spectrum of sustainability to help determine this. The primary aim of the research has been to assess the extent to which housing can be affordable whilst simultaneously being sustainable. Sustainability in this research project applies to all three human activity spheres. It applies in an economic or financial sense associated with housing costs; in a social way, for example, whether sense of community varies according to the nature and form of development. Thirdly, sustainability applies to the environmental arena, for example conserving water and energy, simultaneously bringing operating economies to housing and less pollution. The research has two chief outcomes. First is a sustainability assessment method – the triple bottom line (TBL) model which is used to compare two key forms of residential development. They are the traditional regulatory subdivision (TRS) of suburban development and the master planned community (MPC). The second product is an evaluation of the economic, environmental and social characteristics of the MPC and TRS. Two case studies in the three capital cities in NSW, South Australia and Queensland were examined. The evaluation is a comparison of each case study pair, not an absolute assessment against established norms, though an occasional reference is made to an external benchmark where they exist.

Publication Details
Publication Year: