Industrial style light bulbs
Sustainability

Inside the walls of high-density residential energy savings

Previously I have noted a few key challenges in relation to achieving energy efficiency in a high-density residential context. If developers aren’t prioritising sustainability due to a perceived lack of market demand, and owners corporations’ focus is elsewhere, where else can efficiencies be gained? What about what happens “within the walls” of the apartments themselves?

While the individual savings might be small, the cumulative benefits might be significant. Just how significant is unclear, however. So it’s hard to judge just what sort of impact energy efficiency measures across a medium- or high-density residential complex would be. I did a bit of digging but couldn’t find readily available stats. Are savings in this context just going to be a “band-aid” solution? Or can it make a significant contribution?

Let’s assume, for a moment, that the cumulative effect is significant enough to warrant attention. Continue reading

People having a work-related discussion over coffee
Sustainability

Residential building management and energy savings

In a previous post I commented on how the high-density residential market is not being driven by the same market forces as the commercial property sector to incorporate sustainability measures in the design/development of new dwellings.

So assuming that current building stock (i.e. those being built today) have a life span of 50–100 years. Thus, if the development stock currently being built is less efficient, what can be done to improve efficiency in the meantime? Continue reading

Business 2.0, Sustainability

Energy savings in high-density residential

I wrote recently about the value of creating connections to nature in an urban environment.

I came across a striking statistic that really reinforces this point:

By 2030, 80% of City of Sydney residents will live in apartments and 90% of all new homes built will be in high rise apartment buildings.

A layman’s reading of this is that much of the benefits of energy efficiency in addressing emissions are going to have to come from improvements at the high-density residential level. Continue reading

Business 2.0, Design, Government 2.0, NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Sustainability

Designing for Purpose

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the February instalment of Design Thinking Sydney, a monthly meetup for exploring design thinking practice.

I was stoked to be asked to present on the topic of Designing for Purpose. My presentation slides below:

I need to do a tiny bit of tidy-up on my notes, but I hope to do so over the weekend, and I’ll post them here once they’re done.

As I suspected a number of attendees at the session would be relatively well-versed in the ideas behind design thinking, I wanted to focus a bit on what’s different about applying these practices in a for-purpose context.

Given a tad more preparation time, I’d reframe a few of the points I made to be more positive (it may come across as a bit negative!) But I think these methods hold tremendous value, and that it’s really important that we continue to develop these practice—just that we go in with our “eyes open” and to be prepared for some of these differences and challenges.

The main points of difference I identified (and, of course, there are probably more than I’ve highlighted here) were in how we:

  • Define value
  • Embrace and frame “failure”
  • Engage with stakeholders
  • Encourage behaviour change
  • Measure and evaluate

Thanks to the organising committee for the invite, and for the participants who asked questions and came and spoke to me after—it was a great opportunity to dive in and explore and challenge the things I presented, which I found most valuable and enlightening!

Sustainability

What can a technologist do?

I was interested to come across this article by Bret Victor, looking at different ways technologists can play a role in responding to the threat of climate change.

While I haven’t had a chance to fully dig in (it’s pretty comprehensive), there was one passage that caught my attention (in the Consuming Energy section:

If efficiency incentives and tools have been effective for utilities, manufacturers, and designers, what about for end users? One concern I’ve always had is that most people have no idea where their energy goes, so any attempt to conserve is like optimizing a program without a profiler.

Many of these projects are unsuccessful and possibly only marginally effective. I don’t think this means that efficiency feedback will always be unsuccessful — just that it needs to be done well, it needs to be actionable, and most importantly, it needs to be targeted at people with the motivation and leverage to take significant action.

Individual consumers and homeowners might not be the best targets. A more promising audience is people who manage large-scale systems and services.

This really resonates with me on a number of fronts. Continue reading