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High Streets taking their destiny into their own hands
Household solar in Australia
October 2013 Newsletter
The tallest laminated timber structure in the world
Sustainable Energy Solutions for climate change - Mark Diesendorf
By John Tilston
In a globalised world often seen to be dominated by international brands, it is not always clear how smaller commercial shopping districts, without the global franchise stores, can compete in the modern world.
How do local shopping areas, serving their local communities, compete against the glamorous, super efficient malls managed by the likes of Westfield, Stockland or Lend Lease? These major players have developed the management of shopping malls to a fine art. They have used the economies of scale, their ability to generate “retail traffic” to drive their product, and, sometimes, have flexed their not inconsiderable corporate muscles in pursuit of their goals. It is exceptionally difficult for individual firms to compete against these retail machines.
There are, of course, some things to be done to make a small retail operator’s offer compelling. Individual things. Distinguished service. Out of the ordinary stock. Quirky specials. Startling window displays. Many of these are not available to managers of chain stores who must confirm to corporate guidelines imposed from a distant head office.
This is a large part of the cause of the slow death, or “muddling through” at best, of our village centres around Sydney and elsewhere. This is no recipe for sustainable business, and by extension, healthy, locally-based communities.
Some high streets are fighting back, following a model pioneered in Canada 50 years ago. They are setting up “Business Improvement Districts” (BID)- the rather clunky North American term for areas where local businesses and commercial property owners get together to collectively ‘manage their street’: to apply the same sort of practices found in shopping malls to their streets, which range from special community-based events, through small beautification projects and added security, to co-operation on promotion, marketing and opening hours.
Funding is usually sourced from a special levy tied to rates administered (and directly handed over) by the Local Council. Every commercial property within the street’s ‘footprint‘ pays the levy to avoid free riders and to get buy in from everybody.
There are more and more areas in Australia looking to this model. Lane Cove was one of the first in Sydney to adopt the approach. Gosford has followed suit, The Entrance has a similar arrangement and Ettalong Beach on the Central Coast is in the process of setting one up. Other Councils - from Newcastle to Perth - are looking at encouraging local businesses to set up BIDs, as they are known.
These BIDs are not without their critics, especially those who believe local government should fund street activities from existing rates income, but the fact is most Council’s are struggling to meet infrastructure maintenance costs, let alone spend money on business development.
And it seems undeniable that village businesses need to take their destiny into their own hands; to help make their high street sustainable and for their businesses to feed off the increased activity that comes from the collaboration and collective action.
BIDs have worked very well in shopping precincts in places as diverse as Vancouver, New York, Cape Town and London. Is Sydney next?
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) operates as part of the Renewable Energy Target, the other component being the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target. The SRES is the key policy mechanism supporting the residential and commercial solar industry in Australia. It has successfully supported the growth of solar in Australia, where it has been embraced by Australian families and makes a material contribution to meeting our energy needs.
Australia's greenest and the world's tallest timber apartment building.
Forté is built on the principle that what’s good for the environment is good for you too. Smart design means lower living costs. Forté’s design makes the most of natural sunlight, natural ventilation and smart metering. Energy efficient appliances and reverse cycle heating and cooling contribute to making a better indoor environment for you, while paying less for it. They also reduce carbon emissions that scientists have proven lead to climate change.
Abundant nearby amenities include shops, transport links, walking and bike paths, car share at your doorstep and the CBD within walking distance. Along with an adjacent community garden you’ll also have your very own ready-to-go veggie garden on your balcony and bike rack, making Forté the apartments of choice for anyone looking for a sustainable lifestyle. All this made it possible for Forté to achieve a 5 Star Green Star As-Built residential rating.
Every apartment is dual aspect so bedrooms and living areas have abundant natural light and fresh air. With timber floors standard and a feature timber wall, each apartment has a warm, wood feel. They are also well sound proofed to be equal to or better than conventional concrete frame, masonry and plasterboard walling.
Builders : Lend Lease; Fabricators of laminated timber KLH Massivholz
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is an engineered wood product used for pre-fabricated structural applications and is making the construction of entire buildings from timber a reality.
This book is a call to action on climate change, filled with clear and detailed information on the strategies we need to adopt to ensure a sustainable future for the planet. Unlike other books on the subject, it brings together both the technology and policy issues to provide a truly interdisciplinary approach.
Mark Diesendorf provides a guide to our future energy options, outlining the enormous recent changes in the energy sector in Australia and internationally. Diesendorf argues that we now have the technologies needed to transform our fossil-fuel based energy systems into an ecologically sustainable one, based on the efficient use of renewable energy. All we need is the political will to do so.
For more info click cover image:
The federal government recently launched a formal review of Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target (The RET), headed by a well know climate change sceptic - Dick Warburton.
Given that the RET and its associated instruments have been the single biggest driver of renewable energy uptake in Australia, any reduction or modification to the RET will dramatically effect the fragile and battered domestic Renewable Industry and significantly hamper our national approach to addressing climate change.
With this very real existential threat to the RET at hand we thought it would be timely to have a discussion about the current landscape of Renewables and the potential consequences of any reduction to the existing targets.
To shed some light on this we invited Dr Mark Diesendorf of the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW and Lindsay Soutar, National Director of Solar Citizens and 100% Renewable, to attempt to enlighten us and guide us through some of the murky and confusing issues around national energy policy and future of renewables in Australia.
Mark Diesendorf is the Deputy Director of Institute of Environmental Studies at University of New South Wales. He teaches and researches on ecologically sustainable and socially just development and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. He is the author of 'Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy' (2007) and 'Climate Action: A Campaign Manual for Greenhouse Solutions' ( 2009). His new book, 'Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change', has just been published by UNSW Press in Australia and New Zealand, and will be published for the rest of the world by Earthscan in April 2014.
Lindsay Soutar is the National Director of Solar Citizens - Lindsay became familiar with the hopes and challenges of households (and community groups) going solar through her work at renewable energy organisation 100% Renewable of which Solar Citizens is an offshoot. There she experienced first hand the continual solar-coaster of changes to solar programs to Australia, and the efforts of the big power companies trying to stop the further expansion of solar. She recently started the process to install solar on her Sydney home and thinks it just makes sense that Australia puts a panel on every rooftop!