Sustainable Development :
The issue of environment protection forms a principal part of our daily lives being reported on in popular media, forming part of school education programs and often the subject of political debate. Advocates of environment protection are often accused of being against progress or the development of our cities and regional centres. However, recent movements from enviornment protection advocates have been pushing the benefits of environmentally sustainable development.This is especially so in common interest developments,(CID).see cidnetwork.org
Sustainable development provides for a whole of life cost and benefit of development rather than a short term financial gains. However, recent reviews of green style developments that have been undertaken in partnership with Development Companies have demonstrated that the inclusion of elements of sustainability have proved to increased financial returns by up to 20%. The companies involved in the review indicated that the inclusion of green style elements within a development, provided direct benefits by a reduction in the size of infrastructure needed to be installed to service the development, and the unique style of development gave a marketing edge. Furthermore, it was acknowledged that there is an increasing demand in sustainable style development due to people's awareness of their individual actions in protecting the green assets of the world.
The cornerstone for all new sustainable development is the protection and potential enhancement of the biodiversity values. The use of all other sustainable elements are insignificant if the first principal of biodiversity protection can not be achieved by the development. As a rule of thumb all species (not just scheduled species)of flora and fauna that inhabit a potential development site should continue to be present on the site once the development is operational. This also needs to ensure that spatial and temperal variations are also considered as part of the initial site constraints assessment. The collection and analysis of a site's ecological values will provide the initial potential development footprint. Furthermore,it needs to be acknowledged that the results of a site's ecological assessment could prove to be a "development stopper" if the conservation values are determined to be of such high significance.
Following the determination of the biodiversity constraints of a site the development options need to be reviewed. If the area is for residential purposes, an attached housing style or clusters of detached houses in building location envelopes, may provide better use for the developable part of the site than detachd houses in a traditional subdivision style. The integration of the additional sustainable elements needs to be included from this point.
Water sensitive urban design provides for the integration of water reuse and ensuring that water quality objectives for the protection of biodiversity values in receiving waters are achieved prior to stormwater leaving the site. There are two stages of any development that need to be addressed to ensure water quality will be maintained. These are the construction stage of the development and the operational stage of the completed development.
The prinipal pollutant during the construction stage is suspended sediments in stormwater leaving the site. This is controlled through the construction process by the use of erosion and sediment control measures. The single most important device is a sediment basin designed to manage the sites specific soil type, to ensure any highly dispersive soils will be managed.
The operational stage of the development involves an integrated treatment train to treat suspened solids and nutrients, likely to be leaving the site once the development is completed and in use. A treatment train involves a series of stormwater quality treatment devices such as gully baskets, grass swales, bio swales or infiltration strips.
The use of roof water tanks is an important part of water sensitive urban design. The stored water can be used for toilet flushing, garden irrigation and hot water system. These uses will account for more than 70% of the average household consumption. Water conservation fittings should also form a part of household fitout. The combination of these measures significantly reduces the cost to the householder in water charges and have the potential to prevent capital infrastructure costs to governments of further dam construction.
Building orientation and design can provide significant benfits to a household to ensure the use of airconditioning or heating units can be reduced or not required in approprite climates.See siemenssolar.com.The use of insultation products also assists in this area. Solar electricity generation system ensures that power used for heating or cooling or general household use will be generated from a green source of power.
Landscaping associated with the development should only include species native to the local catchment. This provides habitat opportunities for local wildlife and complements the retained biodiversity values and requires less irrigation to maintain. Furthermore, it will reduce exotic vegetation infestations into any adjacent natural areas or waterways.
Community management schemes or notes on property titles can potentially be used as vehicles to further manage the extent of secondary impacts of domestic pets on the ecological values surrouding a development. These mechanisms may be used to restrict dog size, manage the confinement of pets and or prohibit the keeping of certain pets on the site.
The combination of the above measures provide for the potential delivery of a more sustainable style of residential development. However, these measures alone will not provide for the a complete sustainable lifestyle. Planning authorities have a responsibility to complement the efforts of private industry. Critical areas are strategic green space planning to ensure large habitat areas are retained and connected for the longterm survival of all species within the city boundaries. Furthermore, integrated transport planning that includes affordable and regular public transport alternatives and safe bicycle networks provide city residents with alternatives to private motor vehicle use.
Through the formation of partnerships between private industry and government organisations, rapid progress can be made towards the delivery of environmentally sustainable development outcomes, to ensure our natural assets will be retained for the enjoyment and appreciation of all future generations.
Bill Manners BSc,MSc.