Urban planners around the world can look to Melbourne for innovation and ideas when it comes to redesigning a sustainable and resilient city.
Melbourne is the second-largest city and the fastest-growing in Australia and have been voted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), four times consecutively, as the most liveable of 140 major cities in the world.
Spurred by the disaster of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, when 173 people died and 1,800 houses were destroyed. The city council, led by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, took a new look at how the city could recover and develop into a more sustainable urban plan.
Natural heat protection, large scale storm water harvesting projects, a solar PV array and energy generated by footfall over a specially designed pavement, are amongst the ideas that have projected Melbourne's urban planning into award winning status.
Federation Square, a 238,000-square-meter space beside the river, has highly innovative Siemens technology that lowers carbon emissions by 49 percent and decreases overall water use by 26 percent. How? Foot traffic over the pavement generates energy to add to output from a 25-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array. Storm water is harvested and filtered, evaporative misters cool the area, and a biogas plant generates heat energy from organic food waste. Overall, energy cost is down by more than 43 percent. Plus, an increased tree canopy in Melbourne helps lower summer temperatures by around 4°C.
“We have brought people back into living in the city center by improving the public realm,” Lord Doyle says. “We have seen a very carefully planned and designed reinvigoration of the center of the city, and it has worked remarkably well.”