Simple ideas can change the world! In December 2010 City of Sydney Council unanimously supported the creation of a plan that would see an ordinary street in Chippendale transformed into a world leading example of urban sustainability, using basic ideas that everyone can understand.
A plan was created by local sustainability expert Michael Mobbs, who made headlines in the 1990s for transforming his ordinary Myrtle St house into an entirely sustainable family home, and was in due course submitted to Council.
The plan envisaged changing the suburb through verge gardening, rain water capture and replacing black asphalt road surfaces with lighter coloured concrete to reflect heat. It had the potential to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reducing demand for energy for air conditioning, lighting and waste processing, improve public health through creating cooler streets and providing fresh food and create more cohesive communities as locals work together to tend their communal roadside gardens.
The community immediately saw the potential of the plan, with over 1000 people signing an online petition in support of it. However the City wasn’t so quick to catch on and despite having spent around $30 000 of ratepayers money on the plan it simply sat gathering dust after it was received.
The Greens didn’t think it should be this way so this week at Council I put up a motion directing the plan to be placed on public exhibition, with a view to adopting it in due course if the community turned out to be in favour of it once they had a formal say. After some initial trepidation I was glad to see the motion pass unanimously.
This is an exciting step forward and I look forward to the plan being further developed with the community over the coming months and hopefully put into action in the not too distant future. If the initial plan in Chippendale is a success, which I imagine it will be, there is the potential for its ideas to be implemented across the City of Sydney. I wouldn’t be surprised if other Councils recognised the benefits of it and also moved to implement similar strategies on their streets. If adopted widely enough this could form the basis for a new urban paradigm that has the potential to put a noticeable dent in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve community health and happiness throughout the country. From little things big things grow…
For more information on the plan check out http://theplan.sustainablehouse.com.au/.