Archive for March, 2011

Garage Trail Sale 2011

Posted in Events, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 31st, 2011

What if all the garage sales in your area were held on the same day? You could plan your route and visit heaps of different sales easily – maybe even with a bike and a trailer.


The Garage Sale Trail is about sustainability, community and fun. By getting people together to turn their old stuff into someone else’s new stuff, the day not only proves that second hand items can still have value, it keeps rubbish off the street, removes clutter from cupboards, stops a bunch of new things being brought into the world (along with the environmental impact that creates) and gives everyone good reason to meet the neighbours and have a good natter at the same time.

The Garage Sale Trail is on Sunday April 10 all around Australia – check out the map to see sales in your area or add your own. The site also has a free app to let you navigate easily on the day using your phone.

Peter Harper: ‘Zero Carbon Britain 2030? in Sydney

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on March 30th, 2011

Zero Carbon by 2030 – Britain’s dream or reality?

Technology says we can. Science says we must. Is it time to say we will?

SPEAKER: Peter Harper, Centre for Alternative Technology (UK), Coordinator Zero Carbon Britain

Two public lectures by UK scientist Peter Harper, from the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT), in Wales on ZeroCarbonBritain 2030 – a plan offering a positive realistic, policy framework to eliminate emissions from fossil fuels within 20 years. Zero Carbon Britain(ZCB) brought together leading UK’s thinkers, including policy makers, scientists, academics, industry and NGOs to provide political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science.

Governments and businesses seem paralysed and unable to plan for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. ZCB shows what can be done by harnessing the voluntary contribution from experts working outside their institutions. The ZCB report,released in June 2010, provides a fully integrated vision of how Britain can respond to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion and global inequity, with the potential for a low-carbon future to enrich society as a whole.

During lectures in Melbourne and Sydney, Peter will explore how we can ‘Power Down’ demand in the built environment, transport, land use and institute behavioural change, then ‘Power Up’ the energy system with renewables. He’ll outline the key thinking behind the report, including why a low carbon economy is an investment in the future, and look at the ways sustainable community based and multi-lateral initiatives will concurrently inform a global energy infrastructure.

Sydney, Tuesday 19 April, 6.30-8pm, Vestibule, Sydney Town Hall

Please register your attendance by Friday 15 April to

Presented by the British Council, VEIL (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab), Banksia Environmental Foundation, Key Message and the City of Sydney.


Using Price to Improve Recycling Rates

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on March 30th, 2011

Source: via Awake

What’s “rubbish”?  Image: haemengine via flickr CC

From “A small town in Germany where recycling pays” by Leo Hickman:
A car towing a trailer full of construction waste pulls up at the weigh-station by the entrance gate. Weiss wanders over to inspect the contents. “This weighs about half of tonne. If will cost €270 to dump it as it is. Or if the car owner sorts it into separate types of waste — timber, paper, plasterboard etc — it will cost him just €17. That, in summary, is our system. We provide a major incentive to recycle.”

The citizens of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse take their recycling very seriously. So much so that there is even a collection point at the recycling depot for dead animals. “People bring their dead dogs here,” says Stefan Weiss, one of the town’s waste managers, as he steps into a refrigerated shed and opens the lid on a wheelie bin containing a deer’s head recently deposited by a local hunter. “All these animals get rendered down at a nearby facility for their fat. It then gets used to produce things like this.” Weiss pulls a tube of lip balm from his pocket.

Located in the south-western state of Rheinland-Pfalz and set in the heart of Palatinate wine-growing region, the predominantly middle-class, medieval town of Neustadt boasts the best recycling rates in Germany. Over the past 30 years, the town has nurtured and refined a system that means it now recycles about 70% of its waste – 16% higher than the state target. By comparison, UK recycling rates average about 40% – up from just 5% in the mid-1990s.

The reason for Neustadt’s success is simple, says Weiss. “It’s all about providing financial incentives and education. We don’t charge citizens anything for the recycled waste they leave out. And the less waste you put out for incineration – we’ve had no landfill in Germany since 2005 – the less you pay. Having no incentive to reduce waste is poisonous to your aims. We have a separate, visible fee that is intentionally not embedded within a local tax.”

For example, the majority of Neustadt’s 28,000 households opt for a 60-litre bin for their non-recycled waste. This is collected once a fortnight and costs the household €6.60 in collection fees. If a household opts for a 40l bin, the fee falls to €5.30. Conversely, if they opt for a 240l bin (the standard wheelie bin volume in the UK), the fee rises to €24, or €48 if they want it collected weekly. If they produce higher than expected waste due to, say, having a party, they can buy special 60l plastic sacks for €3 and leave them out by their bins for collection.

Read the rest of this entry »

OpenIDEO Challenge for Australia: Local Food

Posted in seeking by Kate Archdeacon on March 28th, 2011

Image: robstephaustralia via flickr CC

How might we better connect food production and consumption?

The Challenge asks design thinkers and people in the food sector to consider ways to improve and enhance the relationships and interactions between producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, growers and retailers. At the heart of this challenge lie issues of food security, global sustainability and local happiness.

Help us close the gap between rural food production and urban food consumption to create more sustainable, happy and healthy communities. OpenIDEO has partnered with the Queensland Government in Australia and the IDEAS Festival 2011 to create a closer connection between local food production and consumption that can make a dramatic impact on sustainability efforts.

Food, glorious food: a fundamental need yet how often do we take it for granted? We’ve come to expect the convenience of plucking the very best in fresh produce from our supermarket shelves or local markets all year round – but at what cost to our farmers, our environment and future generations?

The Challenge asks us to consider ways to improve and enhance the relationships and interactions between producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, growers and retailers, retailers and consumers. We’d like the community to consider issues such as energy use, transportation, biodiversity, food security, nutrition, obesity, the health of rural economies and the strength of inter-generational and intercultural knowledge sharing.

At the heart of this challenge lie issues of global sustainability and local happiness to improve life for rural and urban communities. We hope to cast a wide net for inspirations and concepts that will address the challenge in a holistic way. Think about new services, campaigns, policies, products, systems that could address these issues.

The concepts that we create together through this process will be as good or as bad as the community that gets involved. Please do share what we’re up to in your social networks and if you’re on Twitter you can use our hashtag #oi_localfood

For more information or to get involved, visit the challenge page at:

Temporary Occupations for Urban Renewal

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 25th, 2011

Renew Newcastle was founded to help solve the problem of Newcastle’s empty CBD. While the long term prospects for the redevelopment of Newcastle’s CBD are good, in the meantime many sites are boarded up, falling apart, vandalised or decaying because they are is no short term for use them and no one taking responsibility for them. Renew Newcastle has been established to find short and medium term uses for buildings in Newcastle’s CBD that are currently vacant, disused, or awaiting redevelopment.

Renew Newcastle aims to find artists, cultural projects and community groups to use and maintain these buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped. Renew Newcastle is not set up to manage long term uses, own properties or permanently develop sites but to generate activity in buildings until that future long term activity happens.

Renew Newcastle has been set up to clean up these buildings and get the city active and used again.

Find out more about the project and the collaborators (snapshot below) on their website

Lighter Quicker Cheaper: A Method For Localised Place-Making

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on March 24th, 2011

Source: Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

Image: Carl MiKoy via flickr CC

From Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: A Low-cost, High-Impact Approach on PPS:
As cities struggle to do more with less and people everywhere cry out for places of meaning and beauty, we have to find fast, creative, profitable ways to capitalize on local ingenuity and turn public spaces into treasured community places.

Interestingly, many of the best, most authentic and enduring destinations in a city, the places that keep locals and tourists coming back again and again and that anchor quality, local jobs, were born out of a series of incremental, locally-based improvements. One by one, these interventions built places that were more than the sum of their parts.

The time is right to rethink the way that we do development, using an approach called “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC). This approach is based on taking incremental steps, using low-cost experiments, and tapping into local talents (e.g. citizens, entrepreneurs, developers, and city staff). These smaller-scale projects are being implemented in a variety of environments, including on streets, squares, waterfronts, and even parking lots.

The Benefits of an LQC Approach

LQC projects quickly translate a community’s vision into reality and keep momentum moving. Ideas can be efficiently implemented, assessed, then tweaked and customized based upon a community’s response. Although a lighter, quicker, cheaper approach is not for every situation, it can be a creative, locally-powered alternative to capital-heavy, top-down planning. Lighter, quicker, cheaper projects:

  • Transform underused spaces into exciting laboratories that citizens can start using right away and see evidence that change can happen.
  • Represent an “action planning process” that builds a shared understanding of a place that goes far beyond the short term changes that are made.
  • Leverage local partnerships that have greater involvement by a community and results in more authentic places.
  • Encourage an iterative approach and an opportunity to experiment, assess, and evolve a community’s vision before launching into major construction and a long term process.
  • Employ a place-by-place strategy that, over time, can transform an entire city. With community buy-in, the LQC approach can be implemented across multiple scales to transform under-performing spaces throughout an entire city.


Using Placemaking and a Lighter Quicker Cheaper Approach to Create the City of the Future

LQC offers the potential to create profound positive change in the future of cities around the world. By changing the way we think about development to include small scale, incremental changes, an immediate impact can be made on local economies, transportation, architecture and in how destinations are created.


Click through to read the rest of this excellent article from Project for Public Spaces. It goes on to explore (with real-world examples) Public Markets and Local Economies, Building Communities through Transportation, Creating Public Multi-Use Destinations, Toward An Architecture of Place.  (An Australian example referred to in the article is Renew Newcastle.)

Big Green Idea 2011

Posted in seeking by Kate Archdeacon on March 23rd, 2011

Big Green Idea 2011 is now open for entries.

Big Green Idea is a British Council funding initiative designed to attract, encourage and assist Australia’s brightest entrepreneurs to develop inventive new sustainability projects. In 2011 up to six grants will be awarded to environmentally conscious innovators with plans to make a real contribution to Australia’s environmental future.  Big Green Idea is designed to provide seed funding to new projects that equip people to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in cities, and/or promote sustainable living and commercial practices.
Through a unique partnership with one of the leading global experts in environmental management, Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), applicants can apply for either a $10,000 or $20,000 cash grant.

We’re looking for people with savvy, creative ideas that will help address some of the biggest sustainability challenges for urban communities while making a positive impact on the way we live or work.

Successful Big Green Idea applicants will also benefit from project mentoring by business and sustainability leaders from LRQA and/or its partners and the British Council to help projects engage the widest audience and have the greatest possible positive effect on their communities.

Visit the Big Green Idea website for more details or to enter.

Find EV Charging Stations with Google Maps

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 22nd, 2011

Source: Autopia

From “Google Maps Now Features EV Charging Stations” by Keith Barry:

Google Maps now features a definitive list of EV charging stations, available at the click of a mouse. The setup is really just a friendlier face for the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) list of charging stations. Those 600 or so stations are compiled from contributions to the GeoEVSE forum, and comprise the master list of public charging stations that appear online and in the in-car navigation systems of cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. While the information is readily available on the DOE site, it’s easier for many users to get it from Google Maps, which they’re likely already using. For instance, if you’re going on a trip in your Volt and want to plug in near your hotel, you can now search for a hotel with positive reviews and then search nearby for a public plug. Right now, a search of many areas shows how woefully inadequate the official charging infrastructure remains. Major cities like Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., only have a handful of charging stations. For most of the Midwest, EV early adopters will find a hotel parking lot here and a “green-themed” business there.

Read the full article by Keith Barry on Autopia.

“Green Demolition”: Localised Redistribution of Materials

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on March 21st, 2011

Source: Change Observer

From D-Build: A sustainable model for the second life of buildings by Maria Popova:

Materials science has been one of the fastest-growing frontiers of innovation, particularly in the realm of sustainable design. Yet there seems to be an odd disconnect between our desire to reinvent tomorrow’s materials and our failure to intelligently address the life-cycle of today’s. This is precisely what Syracuse-based project D-Build is trying to change through a new model for materials reuse and upcycling in building deconstruction, using principles of design thinking to change the afterlife of architecture. An alternative to both traditional demolition, which can be costly and dangerous, and traditional deconstruction, which is time-consuming and requires a large workforce, D-Build uses a hybrid process called “green demolition.” A building is cut into pieces of manageable size and processed on the ground by a tight, efficient local crew. The site then serves as a hub for connecting buildings, people and businesses, offering a peer-to-peer marketplace for users to exchange materials salvaged from deconstructed buildings and sell industrial design products made with these upcycled materials.

This time-lapse footage captures D-Build’s fascinating, nearly ant-like deconstruction process.

Read the full article by Maria Popova on Change Observer.

Peter Harper: ‘Zero Carbon Britain 2030′ in Melbourne & Sydney

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on March 18th, 2011

Peter Harper is the Research Director of the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales UK and one of the three coordinators of the Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) 2030 project.

ZCB 2030 is a positive, realistic vision for an energy progressive society free from fossil fuels. At a time when governments appear to be paralysed and unable to act, ZCB 2030 has demonstrated that alternative plans for the future can be developed through the cooperation and good will of volunteer researchers and experts. ZCB 2030 completed its three years of work in mid 2010, presenting the plan to the UK parliament. It provides political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science.

“The great transition to a zero-carbon Britain is not only the most pressing challenge of our time, it is also entirely possible. The solutions needed to create a low-carbon and high-wellbeing future for all exist, what has been missing to date, is the political will to implement them.” Dr Victoria Johnson, New Economics Foundation

Peter will deliver lectures about the project in Melbourne on April 13 and in Sydney on April 19. These lectures will be surrounded by other smaller events to examine the ZCB plan and to compare its approach and conclusions to that for Australia being developed by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) in the Zero Carbon Australia project.

In Melbourne: BMW Edge 13th April
In Sydney: Sydney Town Hall 19th April

More details will be announced here as they become available.