Category Archives: Inspiration

Charity begins at home: an alternative giving guide to help ‘save the world’

Charity Begins at Home. Blog Post Talina Edwards Architecture Sustainable design Ballarat

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ ANNE FRANK

Well as the year draws to an end and with the smell of Christmas is in the air already, it engages our spirit of generous giving to loved-ones… But I do hate the over-spending and over-consumption of so much non-ethical and non-sustainable “stuff”!  But this post is not a gift guide (you can find one of those here or here), THIS is about extending our generous spirit beyond our loved ones, to our wider community… to help out others at this time of year too.

Here’s some little ways that don’t have to cost much (if anything!) that might just make a big difference to someone, and if that doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, then perhaps you’re missing the point of the Christmas season. ;o)

Show Gratitude

This is the cheapest and easiest one! Just taking the time to say thank-you and letting someone know they are appreciated. You can tell them face to face, send a gift-card, post a comment publicly on social media… Taking this time to be thankful not only brightens someone else’s day, it will improve your wellbeing too!

Partake in Random Acts of Kindness

One of my favourite films of all time is Amelie! If you don’t know it (I highly recommend it!), it is a quirky art house film set in France, about a woman who does cute, odd little things to help influence the lives of the people around her, for the better.  If everyone was a little more kind, imagine the world we could be living in! Some like to see this as “Pay it forward” – or Good Karma – that the kindness you show others now, will be returned to you in a time of need. Maybe you could pay for a coffee/meal for the person in the queue behind you at the cafe, or fill up a parking metre as you leave, donate blood, let a car in front of you in a traffic jam, offer babysitting to parents, walk a friend’s dog, pick flowers from your garden to take to an elderly neighbour….  there are hundreds more ideas online if you’re stuck.

Volunteer Your Time

More than a third of Australian adults are already involved in voluntary work – are you? It also happens to be International Volunteer Day #IVD2014 on December 5th, and the theme for this year is “Make change happen: volunteer“. Helping make a difference in your community at a grassroots level is what it is all about… just by helping in a small way, you are in fact helping to change the world! Often giving your time, is more valuable than giving your money.

Donate with ‘Shout For Good’ App

I first heard about the ‘Shout for Good’ App at the Big Hearted Business Conference, and thought it was such a fabulous idea  – by changing the way we donate to charity in the age of the smart-phone. It is so easy – when you shout yourself lunch, how about donating the same amount to a favourite charity. With a tap on our phone it is that easy! No more being hassled by cold-callers asking you for your bank details for recurring monthly donations to the big charity organisations. Check it out here.

Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of supporting these. It is a very different feeling to say, giving money to the Guide Dogs or Oxfam – and please don’t get me wrong, of course each and every charity is worth supporting and I have given to these organisations many times, but I do love that with “Crowdfunding” you are supporting a person or a cause or a big idea that you feel more connected with. You can support, and share in their journey,  and more often than not, you  also get a “reward” because you’ve helped kick in the funds upfront toward capital for their project – so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. I’ve loved receiving some artwork, a CD, or knowing that a tree’s been planted all due to some very worthy ‘pozible’ campaigns. Two that are close to my heart at the moment, and still really need your help, are firstly, a local art and design collaborationCollidescope  where a total of 22 Ballarat visual-artists and fashion designers are working together to create wearable-art as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival – but this is much more than just ‘fashion’! It is about celebrating creativity, community and collaboration! I’m fortunate to know many of the amazing creatives involved in this project, and I can’t wait to see the outcomes. Please see more here.

The other fabulous initiative that you may have heard about isThe Nursery Project‘ by two inspiring local creatives: blogging-royalty and author Rowan Anderson (Whole Larder Love) and his partner – photographer/blogger/cook “the lunch lady” Kate Berry. You may know that they are passionate about simple, wholesome, healthy, down-to-earth living, eating sustainable, and growing your own food and making it from scratch. I love their philosophies and share *most* of them (but, err, as someone who eats predominantly vegetarian, I must admit,  I’m not quite so fond of the raise/hunt/butcher and eat the WHOLE animal – as sustainable as this scenario is!). They “want people to get their hands dirty, minds thinking and bellies and hearts full”. They’ve chosen the Daylesford area for the location, noting “We’re also basing The Nursery Project a short drive from one of the unhealthiest regional cities in Australia – Ballarat – where food and lifestyle choices are at their worst. It’s here that we hope to encourage some positive change.” If you can, please do something to help change this fact, by finding out more here.

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I’m sure you’re already giving generously to others in your own unique way, I just thought I’d put a few more ideas out there. I think this is especially important to set a good example for kids at this time of year – that it is not about receiving gifts from Santa, it is about giving to others.

And in this spirit of giving, I want to show my gratitude to all of you – my wonderful family, friends, clients, colleagues, consultants, supporters, readers, fellow-bloggers, creative tribes-folk, followers and “likers”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Without all of you, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing! 

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder


Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our news!

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Grand Designs Live Melbourne 2014

Grand Designs Live Melbourne 2014

I have a confession to make…

… I do rather like attending a home-show! Whether they’re industry-specific and more of a trade-show for construction-professionals, or a show aimed at DIYers and the average-joe, I’m all for it! There is always plenty to learn – not only from exhibits showcasing new products, but perhaps more so from the presentations by leaders in their fields. Earlier this year I wrote about my day at DesignBuild Expo, focusing on “Sustainability Day”.

Last week I attended Grand Designs Live in Melbourne. It was rather a last-minute decision, but I’m so glad I went. It is basically the Grand Designs Empire (both UK and Australian versions) branching out to include this event, with the big drawcard(s) being that Kevin McCloud and Peter Maddison present live. There were three stages with presenters on all day over the three days “Grand Theatre”, “Design Stage” and the “Sustainability Stage”.  The exhibits were mainly grouped in four categories: ‘Kitchens and Bathrooms’, ‘Building’, ‘Outdoors’ and ‘Interiors’ which gave a great overview, and there was also “Ask An Expert” kiosks, an Interior Design Competition showcase of some emerging designers, and Book Signing too of course. Plenty to see and do!

Ballarat Architect Home Building Blog

Grand Designs Live 2014


 

I spent most of my time at the “Sustainability Stage”, naturally, as there were some great speakers and topics.

I was really keen on seeing Dick Clarke (Envirotecture and Alternative Technology Association) speak about the book he edited How To Rethink Building Materials. I’d recently purchased this book, and haven’t digested the whole lot yet, but was so excited (yes I’m a nerd!) when I heard of its release. It was the book I was waiting for – over 40 of Australia’s (and the world’s) experts with up to date knowledge about how we can make more sustainable choices when it comes to the materials we select. Dick Clarke is very passionate about what he does, and he gave a great overview of the book, and then showed a couple of examples of different houses he’d designed where the material choices were very different – dependent on the specific site location, owners and particular requirements.

Grand Designs Live 2014 Talina Edwards Architecture

Dick Clarke on the Sustainability Stage

 

Regional Victoria Building Home Architecture Blog

Rethinking Building Materials

I also enjoyed the presentation by Chris Philpot (Planet Ark) & Sven Maxa (Maxa Design) about Building and Designing with Responsibly Sourced Wood. Planet Ark are currently running a “Make It Wood – Do Your World Some Good” campaign to promote awareness about consumers buying timber products ethically. Look out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label as certification that the wood was responsibly sourced. Sven Maxa showed a house he’d designed where most of the timber sourced from the project was either recycled/reclaimed timber, or from plantation sources.

My other favourite presentation was Peter Maddison (Maddison Architects and Grand Designs Australia Host) who presented Sustainability: Case Studies and Principles. He showed us a number of interesting examples of homes from around Australia, which had all featured on Grand Designs Australia, each with their own sustainability agendas. I asked Peter if after four or five seasons of filming so many inspirational homes around Australia, if (as an Architect) he had learned anything that he wished he’s known before? He answered that he is always learning, that we are all always learning, and perhaps some of what he has seen has informed his own architectural practice (as it all becomes part of our subconscious).   I realised I hadn’t yet seen any of the Australian series, so promptly headed off to the Merchandise stall to get myself a box-set of inspiration!

Grand Designs Live 2014 Talina Edwards Architecture

Peter Maddison

I hadn’t paid the big bucks to see Kevin on the big stage, but happened to catch part of his presentation from the back, along with a growing crowd of gawkers. I loved that he emphasised that “Grand” Designs are about grand ideas, not necessarily grand budgets, nor a grand scale. He showed one of his personal favourite “grand designs” which was a community housing project for single-mothers, that whilst not a grand architectural endeavour, over the years had done so much for the social-sustainability for improving the lives of these women and children that it had a special place in his heart…and that is one of the things that people love about Kevin.

 So what else is it that we all love about Grand Designs? I recently asked on social media, and got some great responses –  there is a lot of love for Kevin out there! It seems we like Kevin for telling it like it is, for engaging the viewer in the journey, and being able to change his opinion. He is obviously intelligent and passionate about telling these stores about people and their homes, and personally I love that he is an Architectural-ambassador of sorts…helping to promote the value of good design and smart decisions. He is also a Sustainability Ambassador – although he doesn’t like the word “sustainability” as it is over-used these days. But his gem of a book that I only recently discovered (and now highly recommend!) is “Kevin McCloud’s Principles of Home: Making a Place to Live” which is essentially a manifesto for a better (more sustainable) way to live; both inspiring and practical! If grand designs is your “architectural porn”, then this might just be your new ” architectural bible”!?! 

Grand Designs Live 2014 Talina Edwards Architecture

My new architectural ‘bible’ – Kevin’s manifesto for a better world

Ultimately we all love the stories behind these grand designs – the before and after, the journey, the dream, the things that went wrong, the innovative ideas, the blown-out budgets and timeframes – but without the dramatics that tends to be compulsory on other “reality” shows. We love this, because architecture IS about people and how they live!

Grand Designs Live 2014 Talina Edwards Architecture

Early Christmas Present to self… also tax-deductible!

Thanks Kevin. (And Peter). Now I’m off to catch-up on a gazillion hours of old series…it is “research” of course :o)

And as always, if I can assist in any way with your very own “Grand Design”, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Are you a Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud fan too? Tell me, what is it that you LOVE the most about the show? (Please reply in the comments box below).

Grand Designs Live 2014 Talina Edwards Architecture

Some well-thumbed and well-loved Grand Designs handbooks… no I’m not getting paid to promote all these!

 


 

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

 

Staying connected (and why I’m grateful for social media)

Do you like social media? I’m not ashamed to admit that I do.

I first joined Facebook around the time my first son was born in the winter of 2007…and for me it was perfect timing as while I was hibernating at home with a small bub,  I felt like I’d lost connection with the ‘real’ world. Facebook was like a lifeline – I could keep in touch with people from the comfort of my lounge room. And of course social-media can never replace good old-fashioned face-to-face connection, but it in between the times of catching up in person, it means we don’t lose touch. This meant I re-connected with many long-distance friends and family who weren’t as easy to keep in touch with.

More recently, I have found social media to be such a great way to “meet” new people since moving from Melbourne to Ballarat. I’m not sure if there is still that ‘cringe’ factor when it comes to online-dating, but I do get strange looks at times when I try to explain I’ve “met” people through social media (and to be clear, I’m talking friendship not dating!). In almost 100% of cases I’ve also met these people “in person” first (even if only briefly), then connected online, and that way the relationship continues to evolve even though you might not see each other for a while. I find this really helpful – especially when we can all be so time-poor, juggling work, families, and friends.

I also find that these days I watch/listen to the mainstream news less and less…instead I can use social media to tailor the kind of news I want to read about (or listen to or watch), at a time that suits me.

I am currently a sole-practitioner, so business-wise, I find it so helpful to be able to connect to other architects (and others involved with the building industry) from all over the world – to keep up to date with the latest news about sustainable design and building innovations. I keep connected with other big-hearted-creative folk who are my support network. I connect with the local “green” or sustainably-minded communities, and the local arts community, and regularly attend their live events – which I would never have found out about if wasn’t for social media in the first place.  I often marvel about how much we rely on the internet today, the  vast amount of information freely available, and how on earth did we survive before google?!

Most recently, I have joined Instagram. I put this off for a long time, as I thought it might just be another social-media platform that I didn’t need, a time-sucker, and if you could already post photos to your Facebook or Twitter feeds, why? But I must say, I gave it a go, and I really like it! I try to do about a “photo a day” of something I like. (Somedays I might do a few, other days none at all). I often (but not always) re-post pics to Facebook and Twitter too – so if you’re not on Instagram you won’t be completely missing out! I’ve always loved photography, and smart-phones make it so much easier to capture moments. Here’s a snapshot of what I share over there:

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Talina-Edwards-Instagram-1 Talina-Edwards-Instagram-2

 

 

Here’s where we can connect:

Connect with us on Facebook (This is still where I spend most of my social-media time – in fact I probably am ‘addicted’. Are you too?)

Tweet with us on Twitter (I’m not as actively engaged on twitter as I should be, I find I just can’t keep up with it all! Do you tweet?)

Snap with us on Instagram (Using this more and more – a picture tells a thousand words. And I find others images really inspirational. Do you love it too?)

Pin with us on Pinterest (I use this as it was intended – as a “virtual pin-board” to collect inspiration for architecture projects, or sometimes just for recipes, gift-ideas or fun things to do with the kids. Such a handy place to keep things bookmarked…do you find it useful too?)

Hangout on Google+ (I post to google+, but I don’t spend much time at all over there…Australia still hasn’t really taken this up. It’s mean to be “Facebook for grown-ups”…are you on board yet?)

Share CVs at LinkedIn (I connect with some architecture-groups over here, but otherwise I feel this is really just about verifying your resume online…do you use LinkedIn?)

I haven’t ventured into Vimeo or YouTube territory with videos….yet. But who knows in the future? Never say never!

So are you a social media addict too? Which do you use the most, or like the best? I’d love you to reply in the comments and let me know!

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Do what you love, make money, and save the world. #BHB2014

Wow! What a weekend I’ve just had. I’ve just attended Clare Bowditch‘s AWESOME Big Hearted Business (un-)conference for the second year…and to think that both times I almost didn’t go! Last year I wasn’t sure that I (or my new business) was “creative” enough, until I kept getting signs front the universe that indeed I was and I was meant to be there…and if it wasn’t for last year’s event…this blog would not have been born (read more here), and I might never have started my own architectural practice. This year I honestly thought that as I’d had my turn last time, it was now time for someone else to have a go, as there were limited tickets. However when they initially announced that it was not sold-out, a friend’s grandmother’s wise words would not leave my head…”What’s for you will not pass you by“, and I jumped and bought a ticket for this year’s event. BEST. DECISION. EVER. (Twice now!)

Talina-Edwards- #BHB2014 Clare-Bowditch-

The inspiring, generous, loving Clare Bowditch – the brains (left and right!) behind this whole shebang!

Talina-Edwards- #BHB2014 -panel- Danielle-Laporte Joost Beci-Orpin

What AMAZING speakers! Clare with Danielle LaPorte, Joost Bakker and Beci Orpin.

I went along last weekend trying NOT to have any expectations…but that is very difficult when the inaugural event was such a life-changing moment for me (and everyone else there!)…does the sequel EVER live up to the original? Not usually…but thankfully I was wrong. This year’s BHB was every bit as inspiring, motivating, engaging, encouraging, emotional, funny, educational, connecting, etc., as the first, but more importantly for me, it was a very timely reminder of just how far I’ve come on my journey this last year, and it reaffirmed that I’m on my right path.

My head and my heart are so full after the weekend, so I cannot give justice in this one post to the all the words of wisdom by trying to summarise them now. (I might go into some more detail in future posts). But the real secret (SHHHHHH!) of the Big Hearted Business (un-)conference is that it is NOT really about “business” at all! The essence of whole event, is that it is really about life, happiness & fun, dreams & goals, values & purpose, ethics & truth, emotional wellbeing and not just a focus on finance, ….sounds pretty good, huh?! “Do what you love, make money, and save the world” is their tagline. And really, this stuff should be taught in schools, to everyone, everywhere! How many business conferences do you know where you get to laugh and cry, sing and do “bo-ga” (Bogan-yoga), meditate, and hug your frentors? (No “schnetworking” here people!).

 

Do what you love, make money, save the world! Gorgeous lettering by BHB alumni Carla Hackett

Do what you love, make money, save the world! Gorgeous lettering by BHB alumni Carla Hackett

Talina-Edwards- #BHB2014 -Showbag Big hearted business

Big-hearted goody-bag!

Talina-Edwards #BHB2014 giving tree share the love

Such a gorgeous idea – The Giving Tree. Sharing the love by sharing some skills – creative bartering at its best.

Talina-Edwards #BHB2014-Clare Bowditch sings Amazing Life

Clare brings the room to tears by singing “Amazing Life

Talina-Edwards #BHB2014 mindmap notes #BHBnotes

An attempt to organise my thoughts (and pages of notes!) with a mind map.

So what does this all have to do with my business as an architect with a passion for green buildings, sustainable design and healthy homes? Well, it’s confirmed that for me to be creating my sustainable architectural practice in a non-mainstream way, and on my own terms, is not only “acceptable”, it is absolutely VITAL. Want to why I became and Architect? See here. And what about my philosophy? Try here.

The speakers that I engaged with the most, were the ones who were able to tell their story in such a simple authentic way –  pure communication that made their message appear SO SIMPLE, made it FEEL SO RIGHT. That is part of my vision, to tell “elemental” truths, to practice “elemental” design, and to lead by example like these inspiring big-hearted people do….and I’ve just figured out WHY these speakers such as Joost Bakker, Danielle La Porte, Fabian Dattner, Pip Lincolne, Missy Higgins & more were so able to connect with their audience on this level. They have such a strong belief in themselves and why they do what they do, that we instinctively want a piece of the action too!  We all over complicate things and have lost touch with what really matters. But things are changing. Revolution is a BIG word, and not one I’d use lightly, but if you were there on the weekend you’d feel it too….watch this space and look out for the rise of these big-hearted businesses!

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PS A huge THANK YOU to Clare Bowditch and the Big-Hearted-Business team and to ALL the big-hearted attendees who are now part of my tribe…If you’d like to read more about the conference from others who were there, I highly encourage you to check out these blogs and support these amazing folk!

Pip Lincoln from “Meet Me At Mikes” http://meetmeatmikes.com/2014/05/stuff-i-learned-on-the-weekend/

Dorothy K http://www.dorothyk.com.au/big-hearted-business

Martine (Vintage Prints) http://viewsfromtheredbrickroad.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/deciding-to-rise/

Helen Edwards – no relation to me! (Recycled Interiors) http://recycledinteriors.org/2014/05/07/big-hearted-business-conference-2014-good-fail-happy-dance-feeling-way/

Amanda Dziedzic (Glass-blowing artist) http://littlebirdbigchip.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/big-hearted-business-and-my-crush-on.html

Amy Feldtmann http://amyfeldtmann.com/2014/05/03/big-hearted-pearls-of-wisom-bhb2014/

Tahlee Rouillon (The Attitude Revolution) http://attituderevolution.net/big-hearted-weekend/

Selina Braine (I Can Draw) http://icandrawwithselina.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/the-bhb-un-conference-has-brought-me-here-what-a-weekend/

Rebecca Jee http://rebeccajee.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/big-hearted-business-unconference-part-1.html http://rebeccajee.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/bhb-unconference-part-2-keywords.html

Lisa Miller (Multiples of Two) http://multiplesoftwo.com/you/big-hearted-business-unconference-2014/

Always Josefa http://www.alwaysjosefa.com/pieces-of-me/big-hearted-business-2014/

Gill Stannard (Naturopath, Health and Happiness coach) http://gillstannard.com.au/2014/05/13/what-missy-higgins-knows-about-wellness/

Kat McNally http://www.katmcnally.com/2014/05/rearranged.html

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‘Sustainability Day’ at Design Build Expo 2014 Melbourne

At Talina Edwards Architecture, we’re committed to keeping up to date with the latest news and developments in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, specifically relevant to our local climate here in Ballarat (where our studio is located and much of our work), but also surrounding areas including Melbourne where many of our past and current projects are too. I regularly undertake continuing professional development (CPD) relating to architectural practice and the construction industry, and take a keen interest in current issues of environmental sustainability.

Design Build Expo 2014

Design Build Expo 2014

This week I attended the Design Build Expo at Jeff’s Shed (Exhibition Buildings) at Southbank in Melbourne, which is a trade event held over 3 days showcasing new and innovative building products, and featuring “Industry Insights” presentations by guest speakers who are experts in their fields. The organisers had arranged a “sustainability trail” to the stands that had environmental credentials….so that’s where I headed. I checked out a vast array of building products/materials/systems and came home with an armload of “showbags” packed full of trade literature, brochures and samples  – mainly with regards to insulation, glazing, timber products, LED lighting, E0 (non-toxic) MDF, and more. So many companies claim their products are “eco”, so I was asking lots of questions to find out why they were promoting their product as “sustainable”, or if it really was a lot of greenwash.  Most provided very confident answers under my interrogation, but  many were a left with not much to say when probed about how far their product travels to reach Australian shores, and consequently the high embodied-energy due to transport and/or manufacturer…they are definitely making improvements over the status quo, but we still have a long way to go. I’ll be discussing some of our favourite sustainable building products in future blog posts.

Some of my loot from the day (yes all that paper from all those trees...but I find it so much more helpful to have a real brochure to look at, and samples to show clients)

Some of my loot from the day (yes all that paper from all those trees…but I find it so much more helpful to have a real brochure to look at, and samples to show clients)

I had chosen to go along to this event on “Sustainability Day“, which meant that there were presentations being held all day with topics relating specifically to Sustainability. I attended four of these seminars, which were presented by engaging, informative experts. These talks were invaluable, and I felt very grateful to be there to hear these people sharing their knowledge and insights.

 

 “The National Construction Code and  Sustainability by The Australian Building Codes Board.” was presented by Neil Savery

He explained that they’re not a regulatory body; they write the standards, but it’s up to each state and territory government in Australia as to whether these standards are actually implemented. Disappointingly, he explained that their standards are far from “World’s Best Practice”, but more of a minimum benchmark; the standard below which is not acceptable. (i.e., energy-efficiency of buildings or insulation levels in the standard are set at the lowest level acceptable, which means that we should be aiming much higher than the current standards). Their focus is on “health and safety” of building occupants, and includes initiatives relating to energy-efficiency, water (plumbing), and social issues more these days, bush-fire, noise, disabled-access, etc. With regards to sustainability, they are making incremental changes slowly (i.e. news homes to be five-star rated homes previously, had now gone up to 6-star, and they will continue to make recommendations to the government to increase this when they feel the market is ready).

 

“Reach for the Stars” with Tim Adams (F2 Design) and Sven Maxa (Maxa Design)

Tim and Sven presented their projects which were finalists in the “10 star challenge” competition run by Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV). The star-rating of a new house is a rating that can be analysed using  energy-efficiency rating software (FirstRate), to see how a building performs in relation to its location, throughout the seasons. For a house to achieve a 10-star rating, it means that it is completely ‘passive’, that is requiring to NO ENERGY to heat or cool it. Imagine how much money you’d save if you never had to turn on your heating or air-conditioning EVER again? Imagine how much of Earth’s resources (gas and electricity from non-renewable resources) that would save? Imagine how many greenhouse gas emissions could be avoided? Shouldn’t we all be aspiring to this?! And, the projects that these designers showcased, were also AFFORDABLE to build, and would save money throughout the building’s life. It is possible. It just takes some smart solar-passive design principles and clever material/product choices by someone who is knows about sustainable design….ahem…you know who to call! More importantly, it takes a willing client who sees the many benefits of this approach. And aesthetics? Well, your building could LOOK like a standard brick-veneer, or a slick contemporary piece of architecture, or a natural earth and timber shack…sustainable design is not a “style”, but an approach, a philosophy, or how the building works.

 

“Transforming Australian Cities By City Design” was presented by Professor Rob Adams

This was a very comprehensive presentation that illustrated the many design changes that have been implemented in Melbourne’s CBD over the past 30years, that have really contributed to Melbourne being one of the world’s most livable cities! He showed some leading examples from other cities that have transformed, and the lessons that have been learned. The design decisions were all about improving the ‘public realm’ and bringing life (people) back to the streets. This was done by street-planting and trees, making footpaths wider and more pedestrian-scale, making the city more bike-friendly and less about cars, commissioning public art and culture, encouraging sidewalk cafes and lane way-restaurants, etc…small changes that make a big difference. In terms of sustainability, he also discussed the strategic plans for housing Melbourne’s increasing population – by focusing on ‘activity centres’ and existing infrastructure (public transport, services, amenities, etc.) as places to build medium to high-density housing which will reduce Melbourne’s (unsustainable) suburban-sprawl. None of this was new to me; I’ve been interested in these urban ideas for some time. It was however, refreshing to revisit these ideas and think about them in relation to the Ballarat context – what can we learn from Melbourne’s improvements, and how will population growth affect Ballarat, and the connection/relationship between Melbourne and Ballarat.

 

“World of Certification”, panel discussion chaired by Cameron Rosen

The final presentation I attended was a Panel Session,  comprising representatives from five different Australian certification bodies: EcoSpecifier/Global GreenTag, Australian Forestry Standard (AFS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), and Green Star/Green Building Council Australia.  These parties are all involved in varying capacities to certify products and materials so the consumer has confidence about the environmental credentials of the brand, and not just ‘greenwash’. So even though they are separate groups, they all have the common goal of wanting to provide information about the better options available to us in Australia, with the companies reducing their environmental impact.

 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day….I do love learning new things (or being refreshed by some things I hadn’t thought about in a while)…Looking forward to sharing more with you all about  sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes again soon.

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