Organised by the Greater Sydney Commission, the awards highlight leading sustainable and liveable planning for innovative city-shaping as well as projects focusing on resilience.
Acknowledging the 2021 Planner Disruptor Award to Waverley Council, WSP Director – Sustainability, Katie Fallowfield said, “I’m very excited and honoured for the award acknowledging the ‘Future Proofing Residential Development to Climate Change’ report. Huge thanks to Waverley Council for commissioning us to do this research into a topic we are very passionate about and thanks to the Greater Sydney Commission for recognising the importance of this work.”
Engaged by Waverly Council, WSP worked with members of the Project Steering Committee including the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; the three Eastern Sydney Councils (Randwick, Woollahra and Waverley); the Commonwealth Department of Industry; and the CSIRO, to develop the report.
The aim of the Future Proofing Residential Development to Climate Change research project is to model the performance of BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) compliant building designs against future climate projections for the Eastern Sydney region to determine the effects of climate change on building thermal performance, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and water demand.
"This was a significant project because we investigated the potential performance of residential dwellings in Eastern Sydney under future climate scenarios. WSP applied our Future Ready thinking to design the study, which showed current typical designs mostly fail regulatory requirements in a 2030 climate scenario with more serious failure rates in 2070," said Katie.
Released in January 2021, the first report found that planning controls are using historical climate data that does not account for the impacts of a changing climate, making residential dwellings non-compliant in the future. The second report released last month provides design solutions that can make buildings compliant, creating more comfortable living for occupants.
"This project highlights the need to change the way we both design and assess the performance of our buildings to improve our resilience to climate change. The outcomes developed were based on practical, feasible and logical solutions like ceiling fans and better shading – simple solutions that focused on designing better. Also, community education campaigns such as maintaining rainwater tanks," Katie explained.
"In line with the low-carbon objectives of Sydney and mitigating climate change, it also looked into considerations for government including peak electricity demand challenges as the climate warms; impacts of increased use of air-conditioning; greater water demand; the need for alternative water supply; and the use of vegetation for cooling.";
Recommendations within the report included improving existing regulatory tools with future climate data; reviewing building controls in relation to net zero carbon emissions targets; reviewing the BASIX Building Sustainability Index energy targets, particularly for multi-unit buildings; and establishing evaluation protocol that ensures the BASIX planning tool is reviewed and adapted every three years.