February 2011

New Journal Papers

In the News


The Environment Design Guide is published bi-monthly by the Australian Institute of Architects ACN 000 023 012. To submit material, information, or event details for publication or for further information contact:

Michael Day, Editor

Knowledge Services
Level 2, 41 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Telephone (03) 8620 3877
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ISSN 1442-5017
New to EDG - Karen Wright

Cyclone Yasi, 2 February 2011 (Image: NOAA, 2011)
Buildings must be designed to cope with more frequent and intense extreme weather events say Mark Snow and Deo Prasad in 'Climate Change Adaptation for Building Designers', new to EDG Journal.

Making News - Zero Carbon Building, Dublin

Perth CBD at night (Image: iStock)
Australia's building sector generates 23% of the country's carbon emissions. Only with the help of government can it reduce its emissions by 60% from 2000 levels, says Institute CEO David Parken.

From the Editor

The climate is changing and humans are driving most of the change.¹ The weather is becoming warmer and more erratic.² And whether or not you pin some of the blame for Queensland's 'biblical' floods and Cyclone Yasi on climate change, extreme weather events are predicted to become more frequent and more intense as a result of our warming climate.

When faced with any threat of this nature, the rational mind cycles through a series of standard questions, beginning with:

a) Can we eliminate the threat?
To which of course the answer is 'no', leading to the next question:

b) Can we mitigate the threat?
To which the answer is 'yes...but'.

At Copenhagen in 2009, the Australian Government reaffirmed its policy to decarbonise the national economy by 60 per cent from 2000 levels by 2050. On Thursday (24 February) it took another step in announcing a commencement date of 1 July 2012 for a new carbon price. Frustratingly, as David Parken states in our lead article, it appears to be putting all its eggs in the carbon-price basket, and this alone will not acheive the 60 per cent reductions we need.

We can hope, against all the evidence, that our leaders will be equal to the challenge of mitigating climate change, but we know that even in a best case scenario some warming is locked in.

So the next question is:
c) How should we adapt?

And at last we come to a place where an architect will feel on familiar ground.

More stringent building codes are guaranteed to trail in the wake of climate disasters. They can even bring a silver lining, with opportunities to 'build it back green'.³ But the good architect stays ahead of the curve. Anticipatory adaptation, to quote 'Climate Change Adaptation for Building Designers', published in EDG Journal this month, 'is a pre-emptive measure'. Heeding the best advice on likely future impacts, adaptive design treats climate change as simply another problem - like a challenging site or orientation.

As people, the sanest course is to hope for the best. But as designers, the rational course is to plan for the worst. That is the lesson to draw from the summer of 2010-11.

Michael Day

1. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007)
2. World Meteorological Organization (2011)
3. Disasters Present Opportunity to Build for Zero Emissions Future (The Age, 14 February); builditbackgreen.org

New Journal Papers

This month, EDG Journal publishes five papers on sustainable design for the built environment.

Our prediction is that the one that will get the most reads is 'BCA Section J and Commercial Building Façade Design', by Michael Shaw. The reason is simple: like few design regulations before it, Section J is stirring up the profession. Some architects support it, some decry it…and many are simply terrified by it.

EDG must pin its colours to the mast: we support it. It's not perfect - and it could be a lot easer to work with - but in its essence Section J is absolutely necessary. We have heard architects say that it will force some styles into obsolescence. Michael Shaw is more qualified than us to pronounce on that, but our view, even if this were so, is so what?

Forty years have passed since resource depletion, oil vulnerability and climate change data first entered the popular discourse. Architects have had an entire professional lifetime to voluntarily adapt their practices to these realities. Instead too many persist with outmoded, maladapted designs. Pro-environment market signals are mounting and the smart players will heed them - but their effects will not be sufficiently rapid or evenly spread. Therefore stringent regulation, which forces change, is welcome.

Every architect practising commercial building design should read and absorb 'BCA Section J and Commercial Building Façade Design', as well as grab a seat for the Institute's National Seminar Series, 'All the Way with Section J', which Michael Shaw will present this February/March.

Embrace change! Section J is not frightening. Climate change - now that's frightening.


BCA Section J and Commercial Building Façade Design
by Michael Shaw

Educated in both engineering and architecture, Michael Shaw is a Senior ESD Engineer in the Melbourne Office of Norman Disney and Young. He has extensive experience in the application of environmental rating systems and has delivered many training seminars for architects, engineers and building surveyors in the application of BCA Section J. His paper presents a range of strategies and design charts for different climate zones, to enable commercial building designers to quickly design innovative, high-performance, BCA-compliant façade concepts.

Residential Passive Design for Temperate Climates
by Gareth Cole

Not subscribed to EDG Journal? Sample a paper! For one week only, download 'Residential Passive Design for Temperate Climates' by Gareth Cole, free: http://scr.bi/eRkj6Q Offer ends March 4.

The primary intention of passive design is to create a thermally comfortable building with reduced demand on mechanical (active) forms of heating, air conditioning and ventilation. This paper provides design practitioners with a general overview of the techniques for maximising thermal performance of a house. It will also help to explain the benefits and operation of passive solar design to clients.

Climate Change Adaptation for Building Designers: An Introduction
by Mark Snow and Deo Prasad

Adapting building designs for climate change is about managing the unavoidable. While there is debate around what level of adaptation is needed, there is growing awareness that design practices need to take into account predictions of increased risk and intensity of extreme events. This paper examines potential climate change effects on buildings and presents examples of adaptive strategies for building design.

Mind the Gap: Predicted vs. Actual Performance of Green Buildings
by Brett Pollard

This paper reviews the major North American and Australian sustainability rating tools to determine how they measure building energy performance. It then reviews the major building energy simulation software packages. The paper then details some of the literature surrounding predicted vs. actual energy performance in green buildings, and concludes with an argument for a more performance-orientated ratings regime.

Persuasive Design and Building User Engagement
by Gerard Healey

To perform well, buildings require not only good design and construction but also good operation - and designers cannot dismiss operation as solely the responsibility of occupants. All our designs are teaching or reinforcing behaviours in building occupants, therefore the question to ask ourselves, as designers, is what messages are we sending? This paper presents a conceptual framework for analysis of persuasive designs and applies it to a wide range of examples designed to support or encourage particular behaviours in building users, particularly those which optimise environmental performance.


Time to Decarbonise the Building Sector

David Parken, CEO, Australian Institute of Architects
Perth CBD at night (Image: iStock)

I have long observed that the Federal Government has only three stated long-term targets for the country:

1. a reduction of 60 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050 (from 2000 levels),
2. a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, and
3. a 2 to 3 per cent inflation range for the Australian economy.

We can't help with the third goal, and the second goal has been legislated. As to achieving the first goal, the government is yet to offer a plan: though it has made clear that it sees an emissions trading scheme as the key plank in its approach.

For a number of years, the Institute of Architects has been an active partner in the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), which has over 40 member organisations from industry and government. In leading ASBEC's Climate Change Task Group, we commissioned research to better understand what impact the government's GHG goal would mean for the building sector.* ASBEC's research concludes that in the commercial building sector any emissions trading scheme would only achieve a modest reduction in energy use - most companies would simply absorb the higher cost of electricity as the less costly alternative to undertaking energy efficiency retrofits.

The building sector currently accounts for nearly one quarter (23 per cent) of Australia's GHG emissions, so a plan for reducing Australia's emissions cannot succeed if it does not adequately address the sector. And the projections are frightening: for the building sector to reach the government's target by 2050 would require a reduction in emissions of 200Mt per annum, equivalent to about one third of today's total economy-wide emissions.

This is a truly daunting target, and if the sector is to overcome existing market barriers to achieve it an emissions trading scheme alone will not be sufficient. A substantive mix of incentives and regulation - a 'second plank' - will also be required.

Second plank initiatives must include: public funding of energy efficiency retrofits; a residential and commercial building sectors white certificate scheme (tradeable documents certifying reductions in energy consumption); green depreciation (allowing investors to defer tax payments in exchange for bringing forward energy efficiency measures); and further tightening of Minimum Energy Performance and Building Code standards.

In recent times, the industry's calls for action have gained some traction within the Federal Government. A federal energy efficiency scheme is being mooted to replace existing state schemes. The Building Code now mandates a 6-star energy rating for new residential buildings and a significant increase in energy efficiency for new commercial buildings. A range of funding schemes, including the Green Building Fund and the Australian Carbon Trust, are encouraging householders and businesses to make their buildings more energy efficient; and the government has committed $1 billion to allow one-off company tax deduction on assets or capital works which will improve the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings.

These initiatives demonstrate what can be achieved when the building sector comes together for a common purpose. But will they be sufficient to get us to the 60 per cent emissions reduction target? No. For that we need more than just isolated initiatives, we need a plan - one that combines emissions trading with far-reaching incentives and regulation into a roadmap for 2050.

* The Second Plank - Building a Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings (2008) and The Second Plank Update (2010)

To read ASBEC's Second Plank reports visit www.asbec.asn.au/research.


Backing Up Green Claims with Real Data

Beck Dawson, Investa Sustainability Institute

In recent times there has been a shift in the building sector towards measuring the performance of green buildings. The NABERS scheme, Commercial Building Disclosure and Green Star - Performance (see below) are all part of a trend in measuring and disclosing real, operational information.

Investa's Green Buildings Alive website shares real data collected from bills, meters and occupant help desk calls. All industry stakeholders are invited to visit the website, to use and share ISI data and analysis, and to contribute their own.

Internationally there is also a noticeable shift towards transparency and performance measurement.

The Urban Land Institute's LessEn site, in the best wiki tradition, is a free knowledge-base of environmental best practice, innovation and data. Members are compiling a building energy map which displays how their properties are performing (the results are frequently less than flattering).

In the US, President Obama's recently announced Better Buildings Initiative (see International News, below) contains strong incentives for peer-to-peer best practice sharing among building owners and managers. Meanwhile the US Green Building Council has an ambitious pilot site called the Green Building Gateway, which it is hoped will eventually map LEED developments across the entire United States.

The UK government is using transparency to drive energy efficiency in government departments. Its GovSpark website even ran a competition to compare the performance of the building headquarters of 18 government departments.

In Australia, the City of Melbourne is offering case studies of green building retrofits as part of its 1200 Buildings program. Also in Melbourne, the Szencorp Building, at 40 Albert Rd, South Melbourne, was an early pacesetter in the fields of sustainable retrofitting and performance monitoring.

All of which proves, to be a true leader in the green building sector it's no good keeping your 'secrets' to yourself - you have to show others how it's done.

[Ed note: For commentary and analysis on green design and as-built rating tools, see 'Mind the Gap: Predicted vs. Actual Performance of Green Buildings', new to EDG Journal this month.]


Green Star - Performance: Closing the Green Building Loop

Andrew Aitken, Green Star Director, Green Building Council of Australia

For eight years now, the presence of Green Star in the Australian market has driven innovative design and construction of buildings and generated strong demand for new green products, services and technologies.

But what happens once the Green Star rating is achieved, the builders down tools and the tenants move in? Is a building still green if it is not managed and maintained to the intended sustainability standards? And what about buildings that have been around long before the introduction of Green Star; can good management of those existing buildings turn them into 'green' buildings?

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) recognises that buildings can be well designed and well built, but not perform to their potential. You can build a 6 Star Green Star building that represents 'world leadership' but fail to fine tune it, maintain it or ensure occupants understand how to use it.

The GBCA is well aware of the gap between design and operational performance, and this is why Green Star remains a fast-evolving tool. In the last five years, the conversation has shifted from Design, to As Built, and now to Performance.

The Green Star - Performance rating tool under development will assess the operational performance of existing buildings. The government-developed National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) currently provides industry with long-standing and widely-accepted benchmarks for operational energy and water efficiency, as well as newer ratings for waste and indoor environment performance. The new Green Star - Performance tool will potentially incorporate these benchmarks, as well as the full range of Green Star environmental impact categories: management, indoor environment, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation.

Through stakeholder feedback, the GBCA has identified the need for a holistic tool that considers the combined impact of the various sustainability categories and delivers one single Green Star rating.

We are inviting GBCA members and the broader industry to have their say and to tell us how they would best use a tool that measures the operational performance of their buildings.

What type of buildings should Green Star - Performance measure? For how long should Green Star - Performance ratings be valid? Should Green Star award ratings from 1 to 6 stars, or just 4, 5 or 6 stars (representing 'best practice', 'Australian excellence' and 'world leadership')?

The GBCA's intention is to deliver Green Star - Performance fully online, enabling streamlined documentation and certification processes to develop and potentially reduce the costs associated with certification.

We encourage industry to download the Green Star - Performance scoping paper and share feedback via our online portal before Friday 4 March 2011.

National News

Queensland's Summer of Wild Weather

The Toowoomba flash flood (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Record floods and a category 5 cyclone are leaving planners and regulators playing catch-up in Queensland.

The Australian Building Code Board (ABCB) has proposed extending cyclone ratings as far south as Caboolture, just north of Brisbane, while cyclone experts have been calling for further tightening of the code (The Australian, Feb 2).

The ABCB will also be revising its flood standards for floodplain buildings, while further stating, along with other experts, that planning laws should prohibit any building in flood-prone areas (Crikey, Jan 18).

In Brisbane, any attempt to tighten existing regulations or detract from waterfront amenity is sure to meet with opposition. The Brisbane City Council resisted calls to raise the current roofline limit above 8.5m, citing blocked river views. It also emerged that the council ignored the 2005 advice of a suburban flooding taskforce to pursue funding to help residents in flood-prone areas to lift their houses higher. (The Australian, Jan 27).

On January 17, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced a commission of inquiry into the floods, to report on the State's preparedness prior to the 2010-11 floods. With estimates of damage running into the hundreds of millions, revelations that Queensland is the only State in Australia not to be insured for natural disasters have been a source of embarrassment for the State Government and for supporters of the Federal Government's controversial Flood Levy.

Habitat 21: Architect-Designed Sustainable Affordable Houses

VicUrban, the Victorian Government's Urban Development Agency, recently announced the opening of a new demonstration development which it hopes will bring sustainability with style to the urban fringe.

The five 7-star rated display homes of Habitat 21, in Dandenong South, are all architect designed and built by volume builder Burbank Homes. The homes are each around 150 square metres, a third less than the average new home. Construction costs averaged around $200,000.

VicUrban plans to sell the designs under licence for less than $2000 each.

The homes are open every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

VicUrban's latest demonstration project features five architecturally designed, 7-star rated homes. (Image: VicUrban)

Zero-Emissions Housing is Economically Viable

A new paper, Affordable Zero Emission Housing, shows that zero-emissions housing is economically viable for Australia. Measured over a 50 year lifecycle, the study by RMIT University's Lifetime Affordable Housing project shows accumulated economic savings (compared to business as usual) of 78 per cent for zero-emissions houses over 50 years, with a 100 per cent reduction of net energy emissions.

The paper concludes that the policy debate on residential energy consumption needs to be broadened beyond the benefits and costs of star ratings to include longer term indicators of housing performance, addressing renewable energy technologies and household practices.

Access to ecospecifier Knowledge Base Now Free

The ecospecifier knowledge base of eco-products, materials and technologies is a leading source of sustainable development and life-cycle assessed green product information. It categorises products according to rating scheme compliance (e.g. Green Star) to help reduce the time and costs of implementing environmental best practice. Prior to this year, full access to ecospecifier was only available to paid subscribers. Now all visitors can have unrestricted access to the site.

Go to www.ecospecifier.org. (Login: Free; Password: ecospecifier)

Tax Breaks for Green Redevelopments

(Image: iStock)

Tax breaks for redevelopments that will improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings are due to begin on 1 July. The scheme was promised by the government during the 2010 federal election and was the subject of a public consultation paper released on 20 January. Participating businesses will be eligible for a 50 per cent bonus tax deduction for expenditure on eligible assets and capital works incurred between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2015. The scheme will be limited to hotels, offices and shopping centres and the funds available for the scheme will be capped at $1 billion over the life of the scheme. There are no caps or limits on the amount of expenditure that can be claimed.

Policy Vacuum Will Double Electricity Prices

Without a price on carbon, Australia will experience massive uncertainty in the power sector and 'damaging investment in new electricity generation'. That was the message from a Australian Industry Group report titled Energy Shock: Confronting Higher Prices - released (coincidentally we presume), just prior to the government's carbon price announcement.

The report echoes concerns raised in both Fairfax and News Limited papers that policy incoherence and the lack of a clear market signal has been driving up the price of electricity and leading to massive waste in the form of low-value subsidies and ineffective carbon abatement schemes.

Energy Rating Scheme Victim of Hostility, Indifference

Rumblings about the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, or NatHERS, which sets the standards for residential buildings' compliance to BCA, have been going on for as long as the tool has been in operation. Increasingly, it seems that the tool has been a victim not of poor design, but of government laxity, building industry hostility and building standards that fail to come up to spec.

Air-tightness testing company, Air Barrier Technologies, reports that air leakage in new homes is five to 10 times worse than expected under the star-rating scheme. The effect of this poor-quality construction is that an average 5-star home is likely to perform only to a 3-star level, potentially doubling energy bills for occupants. Terry Mahoney, president of the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Association of Australia, was quoted in The Age (Feb 6) as saying that the current star rating method 'proves grossly inaccurate when constructed homes are performance tested'.

Governments and bureaucrats stand accused of turning their backs while the tool is set up by industry to fail. According to RMIT adjunct professor Alan Pears, 'What we do have is a tool that if used properly, provides a reasonably reliable ranking of a house's potential for thermal efficiency. But we have a sad conflict based system where the government brings in standards and regulations and industry opposes them… Governments now seem to think it is more important to write elegant policy than to administer their schemes properly.' (Fifth Estate, Dec 8 2010)

International News

Obama Announces 'Better Buildings Initiative'

The green retrofit of the Empire State Building is a poster child for Obama's Better Buildings Initiative. The US$500 million project commenced in 2009 and is due for completion in 2013. The aim is to reduce the building's energy use by 40 per cent. For details, see High Performance Buildings, Spring 2010.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Tax breaks, grants and loan guarantees are among the initiatives in a plan outlined by President Obama to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent in the next 10 years. The Better Building Initiative, announced on February 4, applies to offices, stores, schools, universities, hospitals, and other commercial and municipal buildings.

The five-point plan includes reforms to the current tax deduction for commercial building upgrades; a pilot program to guarantee loans for upgrades; streamlining incentives for state and municipal governments; improved transparency around energy efficiency performance; and incentives for cooperation and peer-to-peer best-practice sharing among building managers. President Obama said that the initiative would lead to US$40 billion in company savings.

Treehugger Founder 'Crowdsources' Apartment Design

One Size Fits All. Winner of the Life Edited design competition

Graham Hill, the founder of America's leading sustainability blog, TreeHugger.com, recently led an innovative campaign to raise awareness of housing obesity. His approach was a novel take on the traditional architecture competition. The brief was to redesign Hill's New York apartment so that he could live happily with 'less space, less stuff and less waste'. He called it Life Edited. Hill pitched his brief to the entire online community on 'crowdsourcing' site jovoto.com. The winner, One Size Fits All, was awarded a first prize of US$70,000.

Saudi Oil Reserves may be Overstated by 40 Per Cent

Leaked US cables show authorities there are concerned by reports from high-ranking Saudi officials that the world's biggest oil exporter may be overstating its oil reserves by up to 40 per cent, lending credence to the predictions of the Peak Oil lobby.

Peak Oil is the belief that global oil reserves will reach a point in the next few years where demand will exceed supply. Without a managed transition to alternative fuels, lobbyists say, the implications, particularly for car-dependent suburbs and localities, could be catastrophic.

A landmark 2008 Griffith University study, Unsettling Suburbia: The New Landscape of Oil and Mortgage Vulnerability in Australian Cities, examines the implications of oil depletion and Peak Oil for Australia's cities.

Publications and Reports

What if Mainstream Science is Right?

In November 2010, Professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned by the Australian Government to provide an independent update to his 2008 Climate Change Review. The Garnaut Climate Change Review - Update 2011http://www.garnautreview.org.au/update-2011/update-papers.html will release eight update papers between early February and late March 2011. (Three had already been released by the end of February).

At the same time that he was commissioned to update his 2008 review, in December 2010, Prof. Garnaut delivered the Cunningham Lecture to The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Canberra. In the lecture he discussed policy making and public discourse in the months following the 2008 review's publication and concluded with this frank, chilling observation:

What if the science supported by the overwhelming majority of scientists who are qualified in the various disciplines related to climate, is broadly right? What if all of the Academies of Science, in all of the countries of scientific achievement, are not deluded or enticed into error by the availability to their members of certain types of research grants? If they are broadly right, we would probably see a threat to our prosperity rather larger than any of the issues that do the rounds of public discourse on long-run economic development. The threats would manifest themselves in large problems in a few decades, and as the dominant problem well before the end of this century. The challenges beyond this century are difficult to reconcile with continuity in modern human civilisation.


Towards a National Urban Policy

In March 2010, the Major Cities Unit, Infrastructure Australia, released The State of Australia's Cities, covering each of Australia's 17 cities of over 100,000 people, to set the context for Australian Government involvement in urban policy and planning.

In December 2010 the government followed up with a discussion paper, Our Cities, as the next step towards the framing of a National Urban Policy.

On p. 42 of Our Cities, the authors made the bold assertion (for a government discussion paper) that the status quo is not sustainable:

The patterns of urban development that characterised Australian cities for the latter half of the twentieth century - of expanding low density 'greenfield' suburbs of detached houses accessed mostly by car - are no longer considered environmentally sustainable, do not meet the needs and preferences of all Australian households, and economically are not the best use of scarce resources such as land and water.

Not surprisingly, developers were quick to take exception.

The environmental impacts of urban form are much debated. Recent findings that medium and high-density households contribute higher carbon emissions per capita than low-density households have only helped to muddy the waters (see Karen Wright, EDG 65 KW: The Relationship Between Housing Density and Built-Form Energy Use). Australian urban policy is also much complicated by the fact that three tiers of government have a say in it - not to mention that major corporate interests are involved and that urban policy directly affects 80 per cent of Australia's population. Therefore the Federal Government's National Urban Policy, due to be released later this year, will be greatly anticipated.

The Costs of Urban Sprawl (1): Infrastructure and Transportation

Suburban Brisbane (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

A report by Curtin University's Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute shows how retrograde Australian governments have been on urban policy. In their response to Australia's worsening housing affordability crisis, the report shows that rather than tackle the tough issues - such as dismantling negative gearing and taking on the powerful and vocal developer and NIMBY lobbies - governments repeatedly fall back on the soft option: making more fringe urban land available to developers, even to the extent of massively underwriting their developments.

It shows that greenfield developments directly contributing to urban sprawl are currently subsidised by governments to the tune of $85,000 per block. Meanwhile government subsidies for urban infill developments, which are more expensive but potentially much more environmentally friendly, are practically non-existent.

Awards and Competitions

New Award for Resilient Housing

The Australian Institute of Architects for the first time will be partnering with the Insurance Council of Australia on their annual Resilience Award. The focus of the Award for 2011 will be on housing that is designed to be durable to extreme weather events. The Institute will be providing judges to the judging panel. Entries close on 15 April.

Students: Win a Trip to Tokyo for UIA2011

The International Union of Architects (UIA) is inviting students around the world who study architecture to an international design competition, DESIGN 2050. The competition seeks design solutions to the following four themes.

  • - Tsukuba Science City 'Architectural Plan for International Medical and Nursing Center'
  • - Tsuchiura City 'New C.B.D. Sports and Transportation (Railroad/Port & Harbor) Hub Area Plan'
  • - Inashiki City 'New Ecological City Plan'
  • - Kasumigaura Southern Coastal Region (K.S.C.R.) 'Smart Region Plan'

The winner will make presentation of their proposal in UIA2011 TOKYO in September 2011.

Events and Training

Green Cities

Green Cities is the largest green building conference in the Asia-Pacific region and this year's is shaping up to be the biggest yet. Speakers will include leading architect Michael Green, innovation expert Jeb Bruggman, Esther M. Sternberg M.D. - author of Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being - and 'skeptical environmentalist' (sic) Bjørn Lomborg.

Following the Green Cities Conference, on Wednesday 2 March, Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) will host a range of greenbuilding Master Classes for architects. Attendance at Green Cities is not a prerequisite to participate in a GBCA Master Class.

When: 27 February to 2 March
Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

All the Way with Section J - National Seminar Series

The Institute of Architects' National Seminar Series kicks off in 2011 with the 'All the Way with Section J' national roadshow. Presented by Michael Shaw, the seminar will address key design considerations for architects arising from the latest changes to the BCA's Section J.

Michael Shaw will explain how architects can develop building design concepts informed by the new more stringent glazing requirements for both non-residential and residential commercial buildings. Learn ways to document your designs without adding unexpected expense in glazing or redesign.

When: 21 Feb to 22 March
Where: All States. See website for details.

Sustainable Architecture Forum (SAF) - Raising the Green Bar

Johanna Trickett, Environmental Sustainability Advisor for the City of Yarra, explains the council's ESD policies.

When: 9 March, 6pm
Where: Order of Melbourne, 2/401 Swanston St, Melbourne

Low and Zero Carbon Buildings Seminars

These seminars will feature international and Australian case studies exploring the approach, materials and technologies that result in exemplary environmental design.

Tim Ward, Managing Director of Chetwoods Architects in the UK, will focus on the award wining Blue Plant Chatterley Valley Project, which was the UK's first carbon positive BREEAM 'outstanding' (Design) rated building. Tom Fussell, Executive Director and Chief Architect of QLD Project Services will be presenting a case study on their Dandiiri Contact Centre (DCC) at Zillmere in Brisbane, which at the time of its construction in 2009 received Australia's highest ever Green Star design rating for an office building.

Presented by the Australian Institute of Architects and Kingspan Insulated Panels.

When and where:
Brisbane - 16 March
Sydney - 17 March
Melbourne - 21 March
Adelaide - 22 March
Perth - 23 March

2011 National Architecture Conference - Natural Artifice

The Natural Artifice conference brings together speakers from five continents and three generations, each of whom has a potent vision for how we might locate nature in an artificial world. While humankind is as reliant as ever on nature, our experience of what is 'natural' is mediated by technology. From birth, this artifice is intrinsic in all encounters with nature. There are amazing results now evident in a world where designers are apprehending the powerful relationship between that which is natural and that which is artificial in a contemporary and meaningful way for our time.

International speakers include Juhani Pallasmaa, Fumihiko Maki, Francois Roche, Teresa Moller and Luis Mansilla.

For more information on the confirmed speakers and registration visit www.architecture.com.au/naturalartifice.

When: 14 to 16 April
Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Greenhouse 2011

Scientists and representatives from industry and government will have the opportunity to hear about the latest in climate change science from leading researchers from Australia and around the world.

In conjunction with Greenhouse 2011, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility will be having its annual conference on 6 April.

When: 4 to 8 April
Where: Cairns Convention Centre, Queensland

Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP)

BEMP is an annual summit between parliamentarians and industry leaders that looks in to the relationship between Australian communities and their built environment, and explores issues that affect national prosperity. BEMP's goals are to discuss changing community needs, industry trends and critical issues; discuss public policy ideas that can help build sustainable communities; and to showcase leading built environment industry and professional practices.

Consult Australia, Australian Institute of Architects, Green Building Council Australia, Planning Institute of Australia and Property Council of Australia are the co-hosts of BEMP. The Australia Award for Urban Design (AAUD) awards presentation dinner will be held the evening before the summit, on Tuesday 21 June at the National Gallery of Australia.

When: 21-22 June
Where: Canberra

Making Cities Liveable Conference - Healthy Cities

The 4th Making Cities Liveable Conference will be a platform for government and industry sector professionals to discuss causes, effects and solutions that relate to population health, sustainability, natural resource management, transport, climate change and urban design. Delegates will examine the impact of urban and transport planning on the health and well-being of the population and the planet.

When: 28-29 July
Where: Noosa, Queensland

State Of Australian Cities (SOAC5) National Conference 2011

The State of Australian Cities is a national forum, held biennially, to share scholarship directed at the complex and multidimensional issues facing us as an urban nation.

When: 29 November to 2 December
Where: University of Melbourne

Building Simulation Conference 2011

The 12th bi-annual Conference of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA), will be co-hosted by IBPSA Australasia and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH).

The simulation of building performance is increasingly embedded in the design process through green rating tools, regulation and as a general means of optimising design. Building Simulation 2011 will explore current best practice and new horizons for the use of simulation to drive better building design.

When: November 14 to 16
Where: University of Technology, Sydney

International Events

UAI 2011 - The 24th World Congress of Architecture

Described as the 'Olympics of Architecture', the UIA World Congress is a major international architectural event that attracts around 10,000 architects, engineers, researchers and students.

Since the inaugural World Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1948, it has taken place triennially in 23 different cities around the world.

On the theme of 'DESIGN 2050', UIA 2011 TOKYO will provide participants with opportunities to discuss the future of architecture and cities through various programs including keynote speeches, technical sessions, international competitions, workshops, exhibitions and tours.

When: 25 September to October 1
Where: Tokyo, Japan

World Sustainable Building Conference (SB11)

The World Sustainable Building Conference is run every three years (SB08 was held in Melbourne). It brings together the world's leading technical experts and researchers on sustainable built environments. It also summarises the results of multiple regional events in sustainable building.

When: October 18-21
Where: Helsinki, Finland


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