On Wednesday morning, UDIA WA hosted an industry breakfast event focused on ‘creating climate resilient communities’. Moderated by Darren Walsh, Director of our Environmental Partner organisation Strategen JBS&G, the discussion was very positive, with representatives from industry and government coming together to consider how we can work together more effectively and proactively to achieve the government’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

EPA Chair Matthew Tonts

A key note presentation from new EPA Chair Professor Matthew Tonts really set the scene for the morning, with the Professor giving the audience a broad understanding of the impacts of climate change to date and what needs to happen moving forward to mitigate and address the impacts.

Professor Tonts outlined the impacts of climate change that we can readily see in our day to day lives including sea level rise, a drying climate, increasing storm events, flooding and rainfull anomilies as well as bush fires.

He advised that carbon emissions into the atmosphere are the biggest driver of these issues, with WA’s annual green house gas emsisions steadily increasing. In particular, since 1999/2000, the state has gone from emitting an average 62 milllion tonnes of carbon to 92 million in recent years.
Interestingly, Professor Tonts likened this level of emissions to the export industry, noting that if carbon was an export it would constitute WA’s third biggest export by tonnage behind iron ore and wheat.

The EPA released greenhouse gas emissions guidance in 2020 that provides advice to large business for how to produce and implement a green house gas plan that provides a pathway toward their contribution to net zero emissions by 2050.
The challenge for the development industry, according to Professor Tonts, is to think about our cities and how we can integrate a range of environmental reforms and protection that will lead to an increasingly resilient environment for the future. This includes considering environmental protection, urban design and enhancement measures.

The potential results of inaction and a lack of resilience in our cities and communities will mean the long term degradation of our biodiversity and environment as well as declining human health and wellbeing.

From an economic perspective, we could see the loss and damage of critical infrastaructure, economic inefficiencies due to the need to deal with increasing crisis.

While these issues are concerning, Professor Tonts highlighted the positive work being done in Perth in regard to water conservation and the integration of new energy systems into our suburbs.

He noted that Plan Melbourne incorporates climate resilience and sustainability, including quantitative measures as to how net zero emissions will actually be achieved by 2050 as a good example that we could draw from here in WA.

Professor Tonts ‘take home message’ for guests was that active incorporation of environmental protection in all urban development and planning in a systematic way rather than a ‘bolt on’ late in the process is critical to delivering truly climate resilient communities.

115 Hamilton Hill Case Study

Dr Josh Byrne followed with a case study of 115 Hamilton Hill as a climate resilient community that features water sensitive design and heat mitigation, waste avoidance and resource recovery, net zero housing as well as providing for housing diversity, affordability and accessibility.

The Development WA project, that recently received UDIA EnviroDevelopment certification, is situated adjacent to the Cockburn Wildlife Corridor which runs along the former Roe 8 highway reserve. Existing bushland was maintained on the site include over 70 mature trees.

In terms of net zero energy, the housing design includes a minimum 7.5 star NatHERS rating, mandated solar PVs and minimum four star AC rating.
115 Hamilton Hill provides a practical example of how the WA urban development industry can respond to the challenges of climate change through incorporating well considered mitigation and adaption measures, and in doing so, contribute to GHG emission reductions, whilst improving community resilience to the conditions ahead.

More can be found about the project here.

The Panel

Following the presentations, the two presenters were joined by Planning Institute WA President Vicki Lummer and Peet General Manager Paul Lakey.

The panel proved a positive and lively discussion around some of the practicalities of implementing new innovation and design in respect to water and energy in particular. Paul provided an industry perspective on some of the difficulties posed by approvals processes and inconsistency across local governments.

Transport and the importance of METRONET to being able to achieve greater housing diversity in well connected areas across Greater Perth was also a focal point.
Ms Lummer highlighted the importance of good design and PIA’s commitment to climate conscious planning systems. PIA is also seeking an amendment to SPP 7.2 (Precinct Design) to include metrics for carbon reduction.

Overall, UDIA is very pleased to provide an opportunity for experts and industry to connect and discuss these types of issues in a positive forum that will hopefully lead to further collaboration and opportunities to progress action.