17 Apr 2017

Our cities are increasingly beset by a lack of affordable housing, inequality, lagging infrastructure – the list goes on. To the rescue, we now have the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But how can they help?
Read the full article on The Conversation.

30 Apr 2013

The report discusses some emerging trends within cities that demonstrate that it is possible to decouple urban development and rising rates of resource consumption, in other words resource decoupling.

24 Jan 2017

For a generation, governments around the world have been committed to sustainable development as a policy goal. This has been supported by an array of new policies ranging from international agreements, to national strategies, environmental laws at many levels of government, regional programs, and local plans. Despite these efforts, decades of scientific monitoring indicate that the world is no closer to environmental sustainability and in many respects the situation is getting worse.

Journal article
01 Sep 2014

Sustainability and its attainment is one of the most important challenges of our time. Ever since the Brundtland Report popularised the concept of sustainable development, communities around the globe have been confronting how to balance the needs of humanity for consumption of resources with the finite limits of the environment and considerations of social equity and well-being. The hospitality industry has engaged with these issues through efforts at corporate social responsibility, greening agendas and sustainability initiatives. Simultaneously, restaurants and cafes around the world have offered creative initiatives and models of best practice which have spread, multiplied and evolved starting arguably from when Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971 in Berkeley, California and drew attention to “the political consequences of personal eating habits” (Johnston & Baumann, 2015:8-9).
To open this report we offer a brief overview of sustainability before explaining how it applies to the restaurant sector. The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) defines sustainability as “restaurants managing the social and environmental impacts of their operations” (Sustainable Restaurant Association, n.d.). We use the triple bottom line approach to explore how sustainability can be enacted in terms of environmental, economic and social sustainability. We also offer a brief consideration of key ethical issues, including fair trade and animal welfare. These opening remarks are intended to offer a context for understanding the 20 case studies that we offer as a result of our year-long research project.
These 20 case studies were gathered from research undertaken in Adelaide and Goolwa in South Australia, and Melbourne, Victoria, supported by funding from the Le Cordon Bleu‒ University of South Australia 2014 grants scheme. This research project represents an expansion of a 2011 pilot study conducted with one restaurateur exploring the way he used his sustainable café to foster an engagement with sustainability amongst all the café’s stakeholders.
Using a semi-structured interview technique, we interviewed 20 restaurateurs and chefs who were recognised by the food media or by experts as pioneers in aspects of sustainability. We interviewed under the understanding that contributions would not be anonymous and we requested permission to attribute quotes to interviewees (with the option for them to preview all such quotes in advance of publication). Restaurants were selected through purposive sampling based on expert recognition of the enterprise as a site of sustainable practice and/or membership in associations like Green Table, the Sustainable Table and Cittaslow Goolwa. Interview data was supplemented with primary and secondary data and participant observation. We employed a qualitative approach in the interviews to elicit narratives enabling rich insights into what their experiences can tell us about the influence of sustainable eateries on public awareness, participation in sustainability, and how this might contribute to urban place-making and destination branding as a result of the restaurants’ profile and activities.
The case studies feature a large number of commercial enterprises that have been operating for varying lengths of time. There are also a smaller number of social enterprises represented. Amongst the 20 case studies, some have a specific focus, such as fostering models of zero waste, embodying the locavore movement or animal welfare ethics, while others are striving to achieve a balance across all three measures of the triple bottom line standard. They all have interesting stories to share and we offer our case studies here as one source of sharing.
These cases are organised by geographical location:

  • Adelaide: Sarah’s Sister’s Sustainable Cafe, The Organic Market and Café, Red Lime Shack, Café Troppo, Good Life Modern Organic Pizza, Locavore, Co-op Coffee Shop, Nove on Luce, Etica and Experience Cafe.
  • Goolwa: The Australasian Circa 1858, Bombora, Motherduck and Rankines at The Whistle Stop.
  • Melbourne: Lentil As Anything, STREAT, Charcoal Lane, Brothl, Mesa Verde and The Grain Store.

Finally, we offer some assessment of the significance of these practices and highlight some recommendations that arise from their experiences and example.
One final important result is the realisation that further research is vital to fully understand the contributions that restaurants and cafes are making to efforts to promote and achieve sustainability. We hope this report will inspire other researchers to continue this work and add to our understanding of the significance of hospitality leaders in fostering engagement with transitions to sustainability. More importantly, with pressures of climate change and human impacts on the environment, we note that more restaurants need to be encouraged and enabled to participate in sustainability initiatives and we offer these exemplary examples as inspiration.

20 Sep 2016

As the world's natural resources dwindle and critical levels of environmental pollution are approached, sustainability becomes a key issue for governments, organisations and individuals. With the consequences of such an issue in mind, this paper introduces a unifying approach to measure the sustainability performance of socio-economic systems based on the interplay between two key variables: essentiality of consumption and environmental impact. This measure attributes to every system a ‘fitness’ value i.e. a quantity that reflects its ability to remain resilient/healthy by avoiding ecological, social and economic collapse as it consumes the available resources. This new measure is tested on a system where there is a limited supply of resources and four basic consumption types. The analysis has theoretical implications as well as practical importance as it can help countries, organisations or even individuals, in finding better ways to measure sustainability performance.

Journal article
14 Mar 2016

This paper outlines and critically ‘maps’ existing roadmaps relevant to transitions to a low or zero carbon built environment in Australia. A roadmap describes the measures required to achieve goals and/or map future innovation opportunities. The three questions addressed by a comprehensive roadmap are: Where do we want to go?, Where are we now?, and How can we get there? The review identified 13 roadmaps/plans that have been produced by: peak industry bodies (Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating); academic research groups (e.g.

Briefing paper
01 Jan 2015

This paper presents a conceptual framework to facilitate the development of an inclusive model for the sustainability assessment of green infrastructure. The framework focuses on key interactions between human health, ecosystem services and ecosystem health.

Conference paper
16 Oct 2016

The transition to renewables cuts across the entire urban energy landscape, from buildings, to transport, to industry and power. It means integrating energy supply and demand between different sectors, through smart technologies, rigorous planning and holistic decision-making. This report analyses the role cities can play in the transformation of the energy system.
While the potential for renewables is high, it varies greatly depending on each city’s characteristics. Population density, growth prospects and demand profiles in cold versus hot climates all shape the opportunities to introduce renewables, including the vast growth potential for uses in urban buildings and transport. Accordingly, deployment strategies must be tailored to technology options and enabling policy frameworks for each city. This report presents examples of city experiences, challenges and success stories to highlight viable and carbon effective options for renewable energy deployment. It also underlines the compelling business case for the transition, stressing that the time is ripe for cities to switch to renewable solutions.

22 Nov 2016

Byron Shire, NSW, Australia, aims to transition to zero emissions within ten years in five sectors - energy, buildings, transport, land use and waste. This study investigates the potential of Geodesign to effectively map the shire during this transition. A contextual study of the shire's residential pockets is initiated using open source Geographic Information System (GIS) data and a typical case study site selected based on demographic information. CO2 equivalents from current electricity usage and offsets from renewable energy systems are added to the database and visualized in ArcGIS software. Site specific benchmarks are derived as the first step of developing a Regenerative Sustainability Design (RSD) strategy using Geodesign tools. The tenets of RS require each building to use systems that enhance overall ecosystem health by achieving positive outcomes for energy, waste, water, biodiversity, etc. ArcGIS is a system for designing built and natural environments in an integrated process. It enables evaluation of RSD alternatives against their impacts, collaborative decision making and community engagement (via apps, online surveys). Vector data can be directly quantified, multiple parameters accounted for and the onground situation presented to stakeholders in a legible and easy to understand format. Complex datasets can be quickly accessed and visualized in order to identify opportunities for positive contributions to the community. This work shows the value of Geodesign for community planning processes to drive positive change. ArcGIS can assist in holistic assessments to identify the most effective retrofit opportunities, monitor the transition to zero emissions over time and inform policy.

Conference paper
01 Nov 2013

Social sustainability is about ensuring the sustenance of the diverse social relations that exist in healthy communities. Creating the physical, cultural and social places that support wellbeing and a sense of community involves a process of engagement with the people who inhabit those places. There are several key points to note: social sustainability is as much about the process as it is about the outcome, the design of the physical place is critical and the physical outcomes need to be integrated with social infrastructure systems. The note is divided into two parts.

Discussion paper
25 Nov 2015

The Commons apartment building in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick has won swags of awards, including the Best of Best at the 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards. Among its many lauded attributes is its total lack of on-site car parking.

12 Sep 2007

Based on the largest survey of environment management practices to be conducted in Australia, this report finds that companies are deeply concerned about greenhouse emissions, and are taking action to reduce their consumption of electricity, gas, water and waste production.