Given that 3.5 million people are expected to be milling around the streets of the Perth-Peel region by 2050, we can probably anticipate a few more footy fields of housing about the place as well as greater densification to keep everyone and their pets comfy. So how are we going to make sure that everyone gets all the amenities that us lucky Perthites have come to expect (utilities, transport and waste management infrastructure), and still move towards reductions in resource use and pollution whilst maintaining natural green bits throughout our concrete kingdom?
Global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company proposes that we plan for ‘green districts’ within our cities of the future. i.e. Employing technologies and design elements in upcoming districts that lead to dense, transit-oriented, mixed-use and water-sensitive developments which also incorporate the use of renewable energy sources. This can include optimised building orientation, permeable paving, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, bike lanes, urban forestry, green roofs, grey water systems, and energy and water smart-metering. Whilst we already know that green urban areas can improve quality of life (reduction in urban heat island effect, recreational and social outcomes, improved air quality), as well as significantly lowering carbon emissions, McKinsey and Company also propose that ‘green districts’ can be economically viable into the long term due to significantly lower operating costs (however, they do recognise that overall upfront construction costs are usually higher by about 10%). The economic returns of green technology can also vary widely, so clever design and long-term cost-benefit analysis is also critical to achieving economic viability.
Urban greening is already happening in North America in cities such as New York, Portland, and Toronto, which are building or planning to build green districts. The Chinese government has also made eco-cities part of its newest five-year plan, and Persian Gulf nations United Arab Emirates and Qatar are building entire new cities with explicit sustainability goals.
Given that our Department of Planning has already identified a swathe of new districts throughout Greater Perth (in areas such as Yanchep, Swan, Jandakot and Rockingham), now seems like an ideal opportunity to start including these elements in our planning process. However this will require some championing (2017 State election anyone?) to put pressure on the political movers and shakers, so that they know how much we consider it critical that dedicated public transportation/bike lanes, green roofs, renewable energy systems, local grey water schemes and other sustainable design elements are included as part of the growth of our sunny city.
New WAter Ways’ annual Water Industry Night (Tuesday 2nd June 2015) is focussing on this very issue, with three knowledgeable keynote speakers selected to enlighten Perth’s water industry on how to make our city greener and enhance liveability:
- Representative of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities
- Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard, WA President, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
- Julian Rose, Director, Deep Green landscaping
The Water Industry Night will give water professionals a chance to find out more on the latest urban greening initiatives and projects from a few key players, and share a few drinks and stories with friends and colleagues at the same time! We hope to see you there! Invitations to this event are extended to all members of the water industry.
Drinks and nibbles will be provided (thanks to sponsor JDA Consultant Hydrologists) so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for catering purposes by 29 May 2014.