Conference PaperPDF Available

Reducing greenhouse gases in existing tropical cities

  • Bluetongue Cooperative
  • s_Lab International Research & Design Consultancy
John Shiel1,2, Professor Steffen Lehmann1,3 and Dr Jamie Mackee1
University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia1
EnviroSustain, NSW, Australia2
UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Urban Development for Asia and the Pacific,
Figure 1. Current and Projected Urban
Population by Region, 2005 – 2050
* Asia - Excludes Japan
** Oceania - Excludes Australia & New Zealand
(Source: UN-Habitat, 2008)
Climate change will impact tropical cities severely
due to higher temperatures with heat waves and
cyclones, variable rainfall affecting food supply,
and higher sea level inundation. When this paper
reviewed international best practice urban and
building strategies relevant to the tropics to reduce
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it found that
wealthy citizens were responsible for surprisingly
large emissions. Best practice tropical urban
strategies include Integrated Urban Planning;
remodelling of cities rather than demolition;
developing high-density, mixed-use zones along
best practice transit routes; and reducing the Urban
Heat Island effect. The best building strategies
include energy upgrades; external shading; free
cooling; and residential lightweight construction.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) has determined with “high
agreement and much evidence” that we are on
course for a 6oC increase by 2100. For the
protection of food security, ecosystems and
sustainable economic development we need to carry
out urgent and large greenhouse gas (GHG)
reductions (IPCC, 2007, p.32).
Due to climate change, particular challenges facing
the low- and middle-income nations (UNDP, 2007)
that largely populate the tropics (UNFPA 2007,
p.59) are:
Increases in temperature and heat waves,
Variable rainfall patterns, with subsequent food
shortages and disease,
Many residents in Low Elevation Coastal
Zones (LECZs) are affected by:
Droughts from glacier melting,
More tropical cyclones and floods, and
Rising sea levels.
While Africa faces the largest growth in population,
Asia faces the largest increase (see Figure 1). Asia
will more than double by 2050, with a staggering
increase of almost 2 billion people, and has 16% of
its urban population in LECZs (UN-Habitat, 2008).
The aims of this paper are:
To investigate the major causes of GHG
emissions in tropical cities, and
To find best practice strategies to minimise
GHGs for cities and buildings.
The authors undertook a Pareto analysis of GHG
sources, then globally investigated the most
effective modern urban and building GHG
reduction strategies for existing cities appropriate to
the tropics. Best practice strategies to lower GHG
emissions are an ever-improving set of methods,
and those chosen in this paper, including case study
examples, were identified by well-known experts in
each discipline eg. urban planning and transit.
The research also investigated cities of highly
ubanised nations with low Ecological Footprints
and a good standard of Human Development (see
Ecological Footprint and Wellbeing section).
This research supports the IPCC’s goal to transfer
strategies and technologies to low- and middle-
income nations, albeit focusing on tropical cities
(IPCC, 2007).
Figure 2. Global Ecological Footprint and Human Development Index (Wellbeing),
with ranking of Top 5 most populous nations, a Low-footprint circle, and Sustainable regions
(Source Data 2005 from UNDP, 2008; Ewing et al., 2008; Head, 2008)
Figure 2 shows the Ecological Footprint against
Human Development Index (HDI), or Wellbeing, of
selected nations, with the top five most populous
nations in red.
The Ecological Footprint (Ewing et al., 2008) of a
nation is the area in global hectares per person
(gha/p) needed to support inhabitants at their
standard of living for water, food, energy, resources
and waste absorption - taking into account CO2
The Human Development Index (UNDP, 2007), is
a fraction from 0 to 1 used to measure the health,
wealth and education of a nation, with 0.8 to 1.0
being high human development.
Less area is left to support each person as the
earth’s population increases and the standard of
living increases. In 2005 there was 2.02 gha/p and
in 2050 there will be only 1.44 gha/p (Head, 2008)
assuming an HDI of at least 0.8 (high development)
for all, with around 9 billion people, which is the
UNFPA’s medium projection (UNFPA, 2007).
So, the sustainable rectangles are shown in Figure 2
for 2005 and 2050, with Footprints of 2.02 and
1.44, and Wellbeing of 0.8 and 1.0 respectively.
Cities now cater for 3.4 billion people in about 2%
of the global land area, with over 1 million people
migrating to cities each week (Thomas, 2008).
There is greater potential in cities, than in rural
areas, to enrich residents’ lives with better access to
services such as health, education, employment and
knowledge (Thomas, 2008; EEA, 2009).
However, urban areas emit around 90% of all
anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
(Svirejeva-Hopkinsa et al., 2008), and so there is a
great opportunity to minimise GHG emissions
when expanding existing cities by using best
practice strategies.
Low- and Middle-Income Nations
By 2020, nearly 90% of global urbanisation will
take place in cities in low- and middle-income
nations (WWI, 2007). Figure 3 shows urbanisation
rates of nation wealth groups and selected cities.
Figure 3. Percent of residents living in cities over
time, and predicted, for selected nations & for
nations grouped into wealth categories.
(Data from UNESA, 2009)
Behaviour, Wealth and Energy
Urbanisation increases with a nation’s production
capacity, which attracts the labour force
(Satterthwaite, 2009). When GHGs per capita are
plotted against urbanisation level for each nation,
and categorised by wealth, the large majority of
GHGs are produced by the high-income nations
(Satterthwaite, 2009).
There are large GHG emission differences between
wealthy and poor individuals in high-income
nations, and it is the wealthiest individuals who are
responsible for 80% of the world’s GHG emissions
(Satterthwaite, 2009).
Others conclude that reducing consumption is very
important to reduce GHG emisions (IPCC, 2007;
EEA, 2009). One report in Australia (ACF, 2007), a
high-income nation, found its consumption of food
as well as goods and services accounted for a large
60% of the household GHG emissions, using a
lifecycle analysis including embodied energy.
Many tropical nations are lower income nations that
use more biomass than richer nations as their source
of energy, also contributing to lower GHG
emissions (WEC, 2007).
Table 1 presents best practice GHG-reduction
strategies and results for case studies of urban
remodelling or new development. They were
chosen because of their effectiveness and to
represent the range of strategies available.
Integrated Urban Planning (IUP)
Integrated Urban Planning with social equity is
needed for harmonious cities. (UN-Habitat, 2008).
Arup in its Dongtan master plan (see Table 1)
refined IUP using biomimicry principles (Benyus,
2002) forming a technique called “virtuous cycles
of benefit” (Head, 2008). This minimises resource
flows (such as energy, water, waste and minerals)
between rural and urban systems by analysing
interdisciplinary synergies.
Remodelling Existing Cities
Rather than demolish sections of a city, or build
completely new suburbs, usually more GHG
emissions will be saved by refurbishing buildings,
because new low-Carbon buildings use much more
embodied energy than refurbished ones
(Connaughton et al., 2008)
Table 1
Best practice urban district case studies
Urban Agriculture
Fuel, energy and food
shortages in 1990s due to the
collapse of Soviet Union &
the continued US embargo
(WWI, 2007; Girardet,
2008; Rivero, 2008)
A government emergency
urban food program began
with land inventories, farmer
training & market setup;
international Permaculture
assistance; closed food-
waste-fertiliser cycles.
Around 90% of food is produced
in and around the city; 24%
reforestation; 350,000 jobs
(2008); low GHG emission
techniques e.g. inter-planting, 25
times fewer pesticides; food
gardens on most spare land.
modelled on
Governance/ Integrated
Urban Planning/ Urban
Form/ Public Transit
New governance began with
mayoral elections & less
corruption; integrated urban
planning; TransMilenio bus
rapid transit system needed to
improve traffic, air pollution
and speed of transport
(Candiracci, 2006)
Developed mixed-zone
buildings and a network of
innovative reserved bus lanes
along arterial roads; had 500
metre stops using express,
and all-stops, diesel, 160-
person buses, with 80-person
feeder buses; GPS receivers
in artery buses track progress
for breakdowns; Financed
partly from funds taken from
a large ring road.
Public passenger transport is a
great 56% of a very low total of
500kg/p/yr CO2-e for all
passenger transport. Carries
750,000 people a day at low
cost, in a great service to the
poor; 50% reduced journey time;
40% fewer peak time private
cars; 90% fewer accidents on
artery roads; 17,300 jobs
(including 7,300 full-time);
better quality of life.
World’s first
design of
Greenfields site/ Integrated
Urban Planning/Urban
Form/ Transit/ Agriculture
Zero Carbon city for 500,000
residents by 2050 over 630
ha; Arup design for Shanghai
Industrial Investment
Corporation (Head, 2008).
54% residential; energy via
photo-voltaic (PV) systems
wind turbines & biomass;
compact urban form with
walkable villages and green
roofs; zero carbon vehicles;
traffic calming and good
access; peri-urban agriculture
& biodiversity - enhancing
the bird habitat.
Ecological Footprint of 2.6
gha/person; 64% reduction in
energy of similar city size, with
savings of 350,000 t/yr CO2-e;
recover 90% of waste including
for energy to heat; transport
savings of 400,000 t/yr CO2-e;
surrounded by agriculture,
wetlands and energy-producing
land. (Construction suspended.)
Urban Form
Many benefits accrue when city centres and
districts are redeveloped into higher density,
spatially complex and mixed use zones along good
transit routes, rather than developing urban fringe
areas (Trubka et al., 2008; Lehmann, 2007; UN-
Habitat, 2008; Kenworthy, 2003). Benefits include
large savings in GHG emissions; faster average
travel times; less pollution; lower infrastructure
development costs; and reduction in health costs,
with more active residents.
Transit Systems
The best practice transit systems for high urban
passenger-kilometres (Kenworthy, 2003) are rail or
highly-effective busway systems (with large,
efficient, reliable buses and feeder networks,
dedicated lanes in dense, mixed-use development),
such as in European and Asian cities, or the
Brazilian cities of Curitiba or Sao Paulo.
Outstanding examples of cities saving passenger
transport GHG emissions are:
Manila in the Philippines, with its effective
“jeepney system and para-transit-like
motorised tricycles” (Kenworthy, 2003, p.5)
lowering the private-use share of its small total
passenger emissions of 500kg/p/yr CO2-e, to a
very low 22% (Kenworthy, 2003), and
Bogota’s best-practice bus transit system that
lowers the private-use share of the same small
total passenger emissions of 500kg/p/yr CO2-e,
to a low 44% – see Table 1 (Kenworthy, 2003).
USA’s Atlanta, in contrast has around 98% private
passenger use share of total passenger emissions of
7,500 kg/p/yr CO2-e (Kenworthy, 2003).
Reducing the Tropical Urban Heat Island Effect
Strategies to reduce the Urban Heat Island (UHI)
effect in the tropics are important to reduce GHG
emissions (Ichinose et al., 2008). These fall into
three main groups: reducing the heat from energy
consumption; using less heat-absorbing materials
on the ground and on urban structures; and ensuring
airflow through cities (Ichinose et al., 2008).
Strategies they consider the most effective are:
Reducing air-conditioning cooling loads, e.g.
with external building vegetation,
Using water-retentive paving,
Using the albedo effect of light coloured walls
and roofs to lower room temperatures,
Increasing green tracts of land;
Creating water channels, and
Relocating green land or business facilities to
take account of sea breezes and other
prevailing winds.
In the tropics, climate-appropriate urban design
strategies (Aynsley, 2006; Rudolph, 2008;
Lehmann, 2007) include:
Reduce heat build-up during the day and shade
pedestrians e.g. orientating narrow streets with
buildings of appropriate heights,
Manage street breezeways without creating
“wind tunnel” effects, and
Ventilate districts and convective cool at night.
Informal Settlements
As well as catering for new arrivals, better
provision needs to be made for around 1 billion live
in informal urban settlements of mainly low- and
middle-income nations (UNDP, 2007), including
providing low GHG developments (Stern, 2006).
More community consultation is needed to improve
the condition of informal settlers (UN-Habitat,
2008), who lack clean water, sanitation and garbage
services, leading to 1.6 million deaths per year,
depending on a city’s size and wealth (WWI, 2007).
Recent promising research into algae bioreactors
indicates they may sequester CO2 as well as utilise
heat from centralised power plants (Head, 2008).
Transmission losses for these power systems that
need distribution over large areas can be reduced by
more local power generation (Diesendorf, 2007).
Tropical cities can benefit from local power
generation by using power station waste heat as
cogeneration, or combined heat and power, for a
turbine chiller (Cousins, 2007).
Water, Urban Agriculture and Biodiversity
Tropical cities with food security concerns include
Thailand, India and Indonesia (WWI, 2007), and
Africa, Egypt and Vietnam (Pretty, 2009).
The Agriculture and Land Use and Forestry Change
sectors have large GHG emissions (FAO, 2006)
from deforestation and inputs for crops and
livestock, including pesticide manufacture, fertiliser
use, mechanisation, transport and refrigeration.
Best practice agricultural strategies that lower GHG
emissions have been employed in Cuba and Brazil
(see Table 1), Argentina, Indonesia, Philippines,
India (Pretty, 2009). These are also suitable for
urban and peri-urban agriculture and include
integrated pest management; integrated nutrient
management; conservation tillage agriculture; and
aquaculture systems with higher protein yields than
raising cattle (Pretty, 2009).
Waste, Recovery and Recycling
We can reduce our wastage, and subsequent GHG
emissions, with less consumerism; by composting
organic waste; repairing recoverable items for their
embodied energy (including by employing or
rewarding low-income citizens); recycling items;
and extracting methane for fuel from landfill sites
(Head, 2008; Benyus, 2002; EEA, 2009; Girardet,
2008; WWI, 2007; Lehmann, 2009).
Table 2 presents case studies that show examples of
buildings with best practice strategies to reduce
GHGs. They were chosen to illustrate
refurbishment (with less embodied energy), or
tropical location and features.
The most effective GHG-reducing measures in low-
and middle-income nations, adapted for tropical
building include (IPCC, 2007):
Shell retrofit with insulation;
Efficient lights, especially compact fluorescent
lamps (CFL) and efficient ballasts;
Efficient appliances such as TVs, air-
conditioners, refrigerators; and
Efficient water heating equipment.
Climate-Responsive Tropical Buildings
In tropical climates, low-energy buildings can be
designed using biomimicry, bioclimmatic and
climate-responsive approaches (Benyus, 2002;
Rudolph, 2008; Yeang, 2006; Clarke, 2005;
Aynsley, 2006; Lehmann, 2007) e.g.:
Maximise external wall areas (i.e. one room
Naturally ventilate roof spaces with convection,
Use reflective insulation and vapour barriers,
Shelter walls and openings,
Have high raked ceilings, and
Screen and shade outdoor living areas.
Figure 4 (Shiel, 2008) shows the applicability of
various climate-responsive energy-saving building
strategies (UNEP, 2007) that have been correlated
with those in an Australian guide for sustainable
homes (DEWHA, 2008).
The graph indicates that in tropical climates, natural
and night ventilation are important strategies for the
residential sector, followed by shading, free
cooling, mechanical ventilation, lightweight
construction, and insulation.
Tropical Offices
There have been interesting sustainable strategies in
the past in colonial commercial offices in the
tropics eg. using well-ventilated and passive design
techniques, and large-shading verandahs.
To reduce GHGs of modern office buildings, an
upgrade should be performed, especially with
Heating, Ventilation and Air Cooling (HVAC)
system tuning (where all set-points are checked);
lighting review (for more day lighting, zoning or
energy efficient artificial lighting); management of
small power i.e. appliances (upgrade them or
operate them more efficiently); air-conditioning fan
energy review (can use a more efficient fan or
Table 2
Best practice building case studies
EPA Head-
Built 2000
in 2003
High-rise 25-storey
office building of
foot). Wanted to
change occupant
behaviour, conduct
an energy upgrade,
and improve water
and waste.
Used recycled and
durable materials;
native, drought-
resistant grasses,
plants, and trees
lower storm water
runoff & water
needs, & reduce
heat build up.
Highly efficient
HVAC and
lighting systems;
new PV rooftop
panels; a plate and
frame heat
exchanger to save
energy and extend
equipment life;
worm farm.
First Platinum LEED for
Existing Buildings; changed
occupant behaviour with
employee incentives and a
facility layout to encourage
waste reduction, walking,
cycling, carpooling, and alter-
native-fuelled vehicles; annual
savings of $914,000 (US$
610,000). (USGBC, 2003).
Zero Energy
Office (ZEO)
Kuala Lumpur
New, 2006
High-rise office.
Achieve a zero
operational energy
as a demonstration
building of
technologies for the
Good orientation;
well-insulated, self-
shading, air-tight
façade/ envelope;
light shelves stop
direct radiation;
double glazing.
air-conditioning -
zoning, heat
recovery; slab &
pipes; large PV
Zero nett energy and low GHG
emissions; double-glazing; 75%
less heat & 50% light, U=1
W/m2K; chiller uses 25% of
normal office energy; external
conduction does not require
cooling (Tang et al., 2005).
Modern open plan
house; suitable for
Australia’s Top End
tropical climate
without the need for
air conditioning.
Good sun & wind
orientation; steel
structure; insulated
roof; overhanging
eaves; veranda
deck floor in wet
Solar hot water
service; passive
features - high
ceilings & large
openings to
promote natural
Average annual energy
consumption 5,270 kWh.
(37.5 kWh/m2 pa); low GHG
emissions compared to air-
conditioned tropical house
(Troppo, 2009).
increase duct sizes); and chiller maintenance (could
use smaller and higher efficiency systems for
retrofit, especially in older buildings) (ARUP,
2008; Rudolph, 2008).
In the tropics, the chillers can be reduced in size
even further (Rudolph, 2008) if
The air-tightness of the building is increased to
reduce the warm air leaking into the structure
(with CO2 checks to maintain air quality), and
Standby heat (i.e. from small power appliances)
is minimised at night.
Non-CO2 GHG Emissions
The most common anthropogenic non-CO2 GHG
are: Methane produced from agriculture, transport
and waste; Nitrous Oxide emitted from agriculture
and transport; and Fluorinated greenhouse gases
resulting from artificial cooling (IPCC, 2007).
Methane and Nitrous Oxide emissions are reduced
using fewer fossil fuels; integrated urban
agricultural strategies; and good urban form and
transit systems. Methane emissions are also
lowered with fewer livestock and less waste.
Fluorinated gases are reduced by lowering
refrigeration and air-conditioning needs.
Figure 2 illustrates that many high-income nations
have large Ecological Footprints, including high
GHG emissions, and the worst impact is from the
US, with the world’s third largest population.
To be sustainable and have high Wellbeing, nations
need be in the Sustainable regions shown in the two
rectangles (the larger one for 2005, and the smaller
one for 2050). Nations near the circle of Figure 2
have low footprints and reasonable levels of
development, and these deserve more research.
A significant trend in Figure 3 is that middle-
income nations are rapidly urbanising, like the trend
of high-income nations in 1950-1970. Given that
much of that increase will be in Asia (see Figure 1),
where many residents are in low lying areas,
investment will be needed into new or upgraded
flood mitigation infrastructure, or in re-settling
residents to higher ground. Figure 3 also shows the
level of urbanisation of the most populous nations,
with China and Indonesia rapidly urbanising.
Table 1 shows three urban best practice case
studies. Havana, Cuba, employs 350,000 urban
farmers using low GHG food-growing techniques
and is a striking example of sustainable agriculture.
Bogota, Columbia, has a best practice transit
system, which was modelled on Curitiba, being
initiated by a change in governance (Mayoral
elections) to one of little corruption. The Dongtan,
China, design is exemplary Zero Carbon Integrated
Urban Planning across the whole city.
Table 2 shows building case studies with a human
behaviour example (a major GHG contributor), the
Zero Energy Office (ZEO) in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, with many best practice initiatives for an
air-conditioned office e.g. air-tight envelope. The
Darwin residence has no air-conditioning, and is a
good example of a low-energy tropical house.
One of the most important sources of GHG
emissions is human behaviour and rampant
Figure 4: Residential Building Applicability of Climate Appropriate, Energy-Efficient Strategies
Source: Shiel, 2008
consumption. We need to reduce consumption of
the wealthy, and the amount of waste generated,
particularly for products with a high embodied or
production energy, and large volume eg. one-use
plastic containers and bags, aluminium cans and
foil, steel cans and dairy and red meat products.
This is a most significant area of attention for
wealthy residents of all nations, especially high-
income nations, and it will soon become important
for middle-income nations.
Another reason for the high GHG emissions of
high-income nations is the use of high Carbon-
intensive fuels, particularly coal, and this trend is
starting to happen in low- and middle-income
nations. So we need to reduce rapidly the use of
these fuels and develop more renewable sources of
energy supply.
Two key investment areas to lower GHG emissions
significantly are passenger transit and urban
Efficient, reliable, high-throughput passenger
transit systems in dense, mixed-use development is
particularly important for sustainable tropical cities
since people will live near work and use public
transport, dramatically reducing travel emissions in
rapidly expanding cities.
Organic urban agriculture is significant because it
has fewer GHG emissions than broadacre farming,
and will create employment. However, it will
require good water security across potable and grey
water systems eg. more water tanks and recycling.
Municipalities will need local adapatations of the
GHG strategies whilst accomodating informal
settlers. This will allow them to re-model cities
quickly to accommodate the global surge of 1
million residents each week.
The UNESCO Chair supports the IPCC in
identifying effective strategies to reduce GHG
emissions for transfer to low- and middle-income
nations, and in this case for the tropics.
The major climate change issues for tropical cities
are temperature increases; variable rainfall patterns
- with subsequent food shortages and disease; and
sea level rise, more cyclones and floods for
residents in Low Elevation Coastal Zones. These
add to the infrastructure stresses of rapid urban
growth and poor informal settlement conditions
To avoid dangerous levels of climate change,
greenhouse gas (GHG) levels need to be drastically
reduced. Consumption of wealthy citizens is a most
significant contributor to GHG emissions and more
research is needed eg. into consumption patterns,
and the most GHG-intensive products and services.
Whilst fast expansion and construction of low-GHG
emission tropical cities is a great challenge, best
practice urban strategies are Integrated Urban
Planning using biomimicry and climate-responsive
principles; remodelling existing cities instead of
demolishing and building new sections; creating
CBDs and districts with high-density, mixed-use
zones along best practice, high-throughput transit
system routes; reducing the Urban Heat Island
effect with shading of pedestrians, water channels,
water-retentive paving, gardens, green walls and
roofs; using heat from local power cogeneration for
building chillers; extending urban agriculture; and
reducing red meat consumption and waste.
Best practice building GHG-reducing strategies are
conducting building energy upgrades where
possible (instead of demolishing and
reconstructing) using climate-responsive,
biomimicry, bioclimatic, and passive-design
techniques. The tropical residential strategies
include natural and night ventilation; shading; free
cooling; mechanical ventilation; lightweight
construction and insulation. Air-tightness improves
energy efficiency of air-conditioned buildings.
Strategies developed by nations with low
Ecological Footprints, high urbanisation rates and a
good level of development deserve more research
(see Table 1 and Figure 2).
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...  a literature review (Shiel 2009) of best practice retrofits: o that were recognized by professional building associations; o from regions with more advanced building practices than Australia, particularly Germany, Austria, Canada and California;  experimentation and simulation of retrofit actions on a house in Newcastle, NSW, to test some innovative ideas; and  advice from research Supervisors Aynsley 2012;Lehmann 2010), colleagues and the PhD network on the feasibility of retrofit actions, and in techniques for calculating thermal comfort and for experimenting. The pilot study established the infrastructure of: ...
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Australia has committed to play its part in keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 Kelvin but has one of the world’s worst-performing building stocks for thermal performance. This paper reports on a study of cost-effective retrofits of typical Australian houses to rapidly reduce carbon emissions from heating and cooling, including the effects of climate change on a warm temperate climate in 2050. We used the AccuRate Home Energy Rating System (HERS) simulation program to model actual houses modelled in Adelaide and a typical split-system air conditioner appliance. We also show a retrofit method to be a resilient zero-carbon house. The most cost-effective single retrofits were partial conditioning of a house, ceiling and roof insulation, gap sealing to an optimum level, and external wall cavity insulation. Then they were those that suited the house construction such as underfloor insulation and internal brick walls where there was a concrete floor. Novel successful retrofits include cavity wall insulation and roof ‘cool paint’, while ineffective retrofits included window awnings, shade cloths, a plastic temporary double glazing, and vegetation for wing walls. Rapid decarbonisation retrofit combinations were found to suit various occupant budgets and payback periods, by combining the most cost-effective retrofits per house type. The results are based on the Australian Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) protocols regarding heating and cooling loads for room types and occupancy loadings, and these may need to be adjusted in practice.
... The goal of the pilot study was to find initial energy and cost-effective retrofit actions for one typical Australian house construction for the two climate scenarios of 2050. The pilot study (see Figure 1) was informed by:  a literature review (Shiel 2009) of best practice retrofits: o that were recognized by professional building associations; o from regions with more advanced building practices than Australia, particularly Germany, Austria, Canada and California;  experimentation and simulation of retrofit actions on a house in Newcastle, NSW, (Shiel et al, 2010) to test some innovative ideas; and  advice from research Supervisors (Page et al., 2011; Aynsley 2012; Lehmann 2010), colleagues and the PhD network on the feasibility of retrofit actions, and in techniques for calculating thermal comfort and for experimenting. The pilot study established the infrastructure of:  AccuRate v1.1.4.1, a house simulation package for temperature and energy, which is described further in Section 2.4;  AccuBatch v2.0.0.0, which is a CSIRO batch program to run many simultaneous instances of AccuRate;  JMP (v9.0.0), ...
A pilot study of energy efficiency measures, or retrofit actions, was carried out for a single-story detached (single-family) house. It used climate downscaling to project the climatic conditions of a region, and building simulation techniques with two thermal comfort approaches for scenarios of “Climate Change” and “Scarce Resources” in the year 2050. This study was the first stage of a research program to find cost-effective retrofit actions to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for existing Australian houses in a temperate climate. The pilot study ranked retrofit actions that were cost-effective in reducing the heating and cooling energy usage of a house. These actions included removing carpet from a concrete floor for added thermal mass, and adding external shading with deciduous trees to lower summer radiation from the northern windows (in the southern hemisphere). Also, the alternative thermal comfort approach showed that occupants had more control to lower their energy usage than the standard Australian approach.
In the essay entitled ‘Towards a Sustainable City Centre’ (published in JGB Summer 2006), the author reflected on principles how to best integrate ecologically sustainable development (ESD) into urban design. This second paper reports on his continuing research in the area of ‘Green Urbanism’.¹ Among the most significant environmental challenges of our time are global climate change, excessive fossil fuel dependency and the growing demand for energy—all likely to be major challenges of the 21st century and one of the greatest problems facing humanity. In this context, urban design and the fundamental principles of how to shape our cities has barely featured in the greenhouse debate. Much of the debate in related areas has so far circled around ideas about active technology for ‘eco-buildings’. This is surprising, since almost half the energy consumed is used in cities and urban built-up areas, and given that avoiding mistakes in urban design at early stages could genuinely lead to more sustainable cities and less greenhouse gas emission. This article reflects upon practical strategies focused on increasing sustainability beyond and within the scope of individual buildings. The paper deals with cross-cutting issues in architecture and urban design and addresses the question of how we can best cohesively integrate all aspects of energy systems, transport systems, waste and water management, passive and active strategies, climatisation and so on, into contemporary urban design and improved environmental performance of our cities. It provides a context for a general debate about the regeneration of the city centre, and discusses how urbanism is affected (and can be expected to be even more affected in future) by the paradigms of ecology. The significance of the research is found in the pressing need for an integration of sustainability principles in the urban design process of cities in South East Asia and the general need for a sustainable city development. It will be of particular relevance to the rapid urban growth of developing cities that have, in the past, frequently been poorly managed. Research in sustainable urban design recommends increased harnessing of the energies manifested in the existing fabrics—for instance, through the adaptive re-use of former industrial (brownfield) sites and the upgrade and extension of existing building structures. It is less environmentally damaging to stimulate growth within the established city centre rather than sprawling into new, formerly un-built areas. Two recent examples for the application of such urban design principles are the author's proposals for the Australian city of Newcastle: the ‘City Campus’ and ‘Port City’ projects.
Increasing urbanization is generally associated with heat islands-a phenomenon of rising temperatures in urban settings. As a result, more people are affected by higher temperatures for longer periods. Heat islands not only make life uncomfortable for urban residents, but the increased temperatures adversely affect people's health, and the natural ecosystems in cities. With increasing urbanization, ground surfaces have been converted from natural soil or green tracts of land, which function to lower the surrounding air temperature through the cooling effect of evapotranspiration, to materials such as asphalt or concrete, which lack any water content and tend to heat the atmosphere. Exhaust heat from urban energy consumption, such as air conditioners or vehicle traffic, is also a major factor in atmospheric heating. The warmed atmosphere moves according to meteorological or geographic conditions such that the heat not only affects the region from where it originated but also produces downwind effects. Urban environments create a complex set of factors, such as the blocking of heat dispersal through natural wind flows, because of the formation of conurbations, the location of factories, and other major heat sources at coastal sites (windward) in seaside cities, and the formation of low-wind areas where the atmosphere tends to stagnate because of the shape of the ground surface, including urban topography and the presence of large buildings. Rising temperatures caused by urbanization can be thought of as anthropogenic climate change and measures to combat such change involve actions to mitigate the effects.
Society's globalising economic systems and is destabilising the planet's life-support systems and is rapidly becoming unsustainable. This paper, which is based on the author's touring Brunel international analyses current knowledge and concludes that society move to a sustainable way of living within environmental over the next few decades, allowing for continued human and population growth as well as adapting to change. The paper also addresses the policies and input that will be needed to achieve this transition to a new 'ecological age' of human civilisation. in particular there needs to be a continuous adaption of the global economy to the size of the supporting ecosystem. if use of resources within earth's natural capacity to absorb waste and those resources, the economy will be sustainable and regenerate those resources, the economy will be sustainable and human development can continue.
A generator is driven by a miniature hydraulic turbine which, in turn, is driven by water flowing to, through or from the water system of a residential or commercial building. Electricity generated by the generator is stored in storage batteries for emergency or supplemental use. A distribution panel is operable to give a readout of the amount of stored electricity. The readout can be obtained by pushing a button on the distribution panel and such readout directly and immediately informs the reader of the number of hours a specific appliance can be operated by the stored electricity.