Sustainability changing cities for the better

More than 800 experts in planning, urban design and commercial property

will come together at the City of Sydney-sponsored Green Cities conference to discuss sustainable building initiatives.

The annual conference, run by the Property Council of Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia, will attract some of the most innovative and influential specialists in the field, from 22–24 March, in Sydney.

The City will showcase its leading sustainability projects at the conference, which provides a platform for professionals to share knowledge and explore the latest ideas on sustainable buildings, cities and communities.

“Eighty per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Sydney area come from buildings, so it’s important we look for new ways to create sustainable, energy efficient developments,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Central Sydney and the inner city are home to many commercial and residential properties, which have embraced new sustainable technologies and innovative building techniques.

“These energy-saving technologies and designs are evolving fast, so this conference gives planners, designers and commercial developers an opportunity to share their practical experience and insights into making Sydney’s new high-density developments innovative and sustainable.”

The City will provide $20,000 in cash sponsorship for the conference, which is now in its tenth year and attracts more than 800 delegates from across the Asia-Pacific region for three days of practical site tours, hands-on masterclasses, networking events and inspiring speakers.

Green Cities - panel discussions
Green Cities – panel discussions

Next year’s conference theme is ‘Disruption’ and will include discussions about:

  • The importance of pedestrian zones in George Street and integrated transport planning;
  • Creating connected cities with light rail, cycling and walking;
  • Sustainable urban renewal projects, such as Green Square;
  • The issues related to city growth, densification, social and environmental sustainability;
  • Affordable housing for a diverse population; and
  • Wellness in the workplace.

Green Building Council of Australia chief executive officer Romilly Madew said the conference theme would look at how disruption in cities can been transformational.

“The City of Sydney has introduced a range of innovative and some would argue disruptive ideas that have challenged the way we approach the design and management of our buildings and precincts. Leading initiatives such as the Better Buildings Partnership and a highly-ambitious sustainability strategy are just two reasons why we were keen to partner with the Mayor and her team.  We are excited to be working together to shake up the status quo and spark new ideas for sustainable cities,” Ms Madew said.

According to Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison, Australia’s population is projected to grow to 30.5 million in the next 15 years – and most of that growth will occur in our cities.

“This population growth will be a disruptive force, and we’ll need to jettison business-as-usual thinking and reimagine our cities to ensure they remain productive, liveable and sustainable,” Mr Morrison said.

“With the support of the City of Sydney, Green Cities will provide a platform to help our industry do just that.”

Green Cities - General
Green Cities – General

The City’s presentations will include an opening panel session, a speaker on urban renewal and a half day masterclass on the Better Building Partnership’s best practice work on waste.

The City is committed to helping the business community respond to the challenges of climate change, while making savings to the bottom line through programs like the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), City Switch and Smart Green Business.

The BBP works to reduce the use of water, waste and energy in commercial offices. Its members include landlords and property managers representing more than half of Sydney CBD’s commercial floor space.

BBP members have saved $25 million in electricity costs a year and reduced their emissions by 35 per cent since 2006 – well ahead of the target to cut emissions 70 per cent by 2030.

The City has recently signed its third Environmental Upgrade Agreement – an innovative funding agreement between a building owner, a finance provider and council to unlock barriers to sustainability investments in buildings.

“More than 90 per cent of Sydneysiders told us they wanted action on climate change. Through careful planning and investment we are making significant progress,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City is leading through example, getting our own house in order and showing by doing. We are also encouraging business and community to make changes to green the urban environment while making significant financial savings.”

The City of Sydney was Australia’s first carbon-neutral government and has set an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of reducing emissions by 70 per cent below 2006 levels by 2030.