April 5th, 2011

"Eco" estates are a sham

The "World's best environmental development", according to Radio National, has a covenant banning air conditioning. Well woopdido. All the houses have internal access garaging for cars. Plus, the "village" is miles from no-where, inland from Coolangatta. Download the location map from their web site, and all you will find are directions to get there by car. Can I live there and cycle to the nearest likely place to find work? Probably not. 

One of my own former teachers, Lindsay Johnston (here is his blog, and here is his research portfolio), undertook a life cycle analysis (LCA) of an off-the-grid house he designed for himself on a mountain top. Everything looked great, until he factored the car in. So he swapped the V8 for a tiny 1 liter, and still the car's energy drain was greater than that of the house (in-use and embodied) amortized over a 40 year period.

If the covenants of these greenwashed urban fringe sham operations,  permitted all but 1000cc cars from coming onto the site, we could take them more seriously. But photos provide no evidence of them being lined with any fewer big 4WDs than heartland suburbia. If they paid independent researchers for LCAs of their operations, of the kind Johnston applied to himself, I would forgive our public broadcaster, ABC, for having given developers one big free ad.