EBD: Overarching Characteristics

An eco-city of the future beside the CBD.

The Melbourne Environmental Business District, circa 2015

  • 6000 -10000 residents and workers
  • low-carbon living now
  • 2050 in 2020
  • diverse life-styles and built form
  • resilient – socially, culturally, physically
  • A model of sustainable prosperity: ‘living better – consuming less’

A Productive Community:

  • renewable energy
  • urban food production
  • rainwater, grey water, recycled sewerage
  • community services
  • green businesses, research, eco-innovation

A net electricity exporter. EBD produces electricity on site from solar, wind, and bio-gas, into the grid.. Bio-gas also produces heat (winter) and cooling (summer). Residents also own shares in off-site renewable energy farm.

EBD produces water from rainfall, grey-water, sewerage, all biologically treated. Excess water goes to Moonee Ponds Creek.

Urban food production at EBD – at ground and roof levels – focuses on fruit, nuts, vegetables and local produce. This includes individuals, community and commercial production. Much of its finds its way, as fresh goods or branded preserves, to the rest of Melbourne.

The EBD provides education (school and tertiary), health and recreation services for residents and surrounding community. Special green services for water, energy, food and sustainable living form part of the green businesses based within the new community.

All businesses on the site are focused on the ‘new’ economy. Many are small businesses but eco-innovation and research offices of large corporations are also part of the EBD business community. A new business incubator helps translate the EBD’s innovative knowledge production into new enterprises, new product and services.

A Model of Slow Consumption Lifestyle:

  • greenhouse gas reductions of 80%
  • water: Target 90-110 litres
  • services and social sharing
  • no private cars on site
  • walking, bicycling and public transport
  • waste recycling
  • short travel distances to work

The overriding goal for the EBD was that all residents achieve an 80% reduction in their greenhouse gas production.

In addition to the use of renewable energy EBD uses both passive and active design to bring energy (and water) consumption to a minimum.

In 2009 Victoria had a ‘target 155’ (litres per person per day) for water consumption. EBD achieves 90–110 litres per person per day.

EBD allows many residents to share facilities, or to take advantage of services that replace individual ownership of critical energy or water consuming devices (e.g. washing machines, cars). Sharing-services  include access to tools, cooking and food production facilities. The most efficient and sophisticated devices are available to all.

The EBD is well served by public transport around its boundary and is designed for walking and cycling.

EBD designed electric vehicles are free for use on site.

With no private cars on the site all residents have ownership of a shared fleet of the best available green vehicles.

The majority of residents work in the neighbouring precincts or within the EBD.

A Permanent Expo of Eco-Innovation:

  • focus for innovation and radical thinking
  • showcasing Australian solutions
  • developing new solutions and business
  • selling knowledge to the world
  • international learning centre (ACUR)
  • visitors centre

From the beginning of the project the EBD was seen as a focus for Australian eco-innovation across a wide range of industries, from design, construction, transport, energy, water and information systems, landscape and urban horticulture, education, environmental monitoring.  As well as bringing these innovative companies together to deliver the site performance targets, the development was planned as a showcase of solutions for local and export markets.

From the new solutions developed through the incubators and ACUR, the stream of performance data from the site sensing systems, the national and international visitors and researchers (coordinated by ACUR and the Visitors Centre), the site exports knowledge, products and services to the world.

Reshaped Urban Form:

  • high density, not high rise
  • less private space, more social space
  • diverse technology, built systems, life-styles
  • adapted to climate impacts
  • shady, cool open spaces
  • ‘streets’ for walking, bikes, electric vehicles
  • rooftop gardens, squares and fields
  • productive ‘agricultural’ landscapes
  • vertical farms
  • no parking (shared fleet vehicles)
  • visible energy and water systems

Predictions of population growth for Melbourne in the early 2000’s presented a serious challenge in terms of available housing.  Expanding land availability around the edge of Melbourne brought with it significant long term environmental (and social) problems related to distance for critical services and transport. The EBD was seen as a more environmentally and socially acceptable way of providing for new housing.  Situated adjacent to the CBD, Docklands and Nrth Melbourne the development was ideally suited to become a major residential expansion for Melbourne without the consequent pressure on failing transport infrastructure.

The experimental and innovation targets for the development produced its diversity of urban approaches – from different configurations of private-public living spaces, to the mixture of ‘low-tech’ passive housing systems and ‘high tech’ active systems. Overall the site has much lower per-person private space and more diverse public spaces.

In all of the design of the EBD the issue of adaptation to climate change has been as important as its contribution to lowering consumption and greenhouse-gases. The whole project has emphasised resilient living, providing infrastructure and systems to deal with higher average temperatures and reduced rainfall as well as less predictable extreme events – heavy rainfall days, extreme temperatures, storms, sea-level rise.