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Completed project

Expanding the living architecture industry in Australia (GC15001)

Key research provider: University of Technology Sydney
Publication date: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What was it all about?

This project analysed whether mandatory or voluntary approaches to green roofs and walls would deliver more living architecture in Australia over the short, medium and long term. The project found that there is a substantial case for further investment into green roofs and walls in Australia, particularly if guided by a mix of both voluntary and mandatory building policies. The work also produced case studies to better understand the drivers and successes in adopting green building elements both in Australia and overseas.

There are many benefits associated with these green building elements including improved air quality, reduced storm-water impacts, reduction of urban heat, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, opportunities for food production, space for social interaction, and improved biodiversity. However, despite evidence on the associated social, economic and environmental benefits , barriers to adoption exist such as installation and maintenance costs and a lack of awareness, expertise and direct involvement working with similar projects.

Various incentives are available around the world to encourage adoption of green roofs and walls, so a literature review was conducted to identify and evaluate existing policy frameworks overseas to determine what approaches could be effective in Australia. Using this information, four scenarios for Melbourne and Sydney were modelled based on different combinations of mandatory and voluntary policies that have been used in Toronto, London, Rotterdam and Singapore

The modelling showed that uptake of green building elements was substantial in all cases but was highest when a mix of policies and initiatives were put in place. The modelling found that a focus on ‘new build’ can lead to more modest growth rates in the short to medium term, relative to alternative approaches such as retrofitting existing structures with green elements. However, in the long term, the highest benefit will likely be realised through new buildings incorporating green roofs and walls in their design.