Sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure for ‘edge-of-grid’ development

The Urban Edge Partnership (UEP) is a strategic research collaboration between CSIRO and the property sector, exploring the role of 'greenfield development' in catalysing innovation in urban design, critical infrastructure and essential services.

The Challenge

Urban systems under pressure

Our existing urban areas and infrastructure systems are under pressure to adapt to climate extremes, population growth, declining market demand (i.e., through end-user water and energy conservation), disruptive technologies and economic volatility.

Greenfield development is development that occurs on the edge of existing urban areas, or outside of them.

Sustainable, resilient urban infrastructure solutions can be found in greenfield developments, when planned effectively.

Greenfield urban development typically occurs in areas that are at the edge or outside of existing urban footprints, and often un-serviced for urban use.

Providing critical infrastructure to a greenfield can be cost prohibitive; a situation which can offer opportunities to explore new approaches to service provision. However, deploying new forms of infrastructure and service provision are often perceived to be too risky by the development industry, including government authorities.

Our Response

Using foresight to assess constraints and enablers to innovation

CSIRO, in partnership with a Sydney based property development firm, Celestino, are focusing on planning system constraints and enablers to alternative infrastructure in greenfields located along Australia’s Eastern seaboard.

The partnership will gather key decision-makers and stakeholders involved in land use and infrastructure planning to explore possible institutional constraints and enablers for new urban form, critical infrastructure and service provision.

Sydney Science Park, a mixed use greenfield in Western Sydney, was a key case study for the Urban Edge Partnership. © Celestino

Collaborative workshop processes will be used to develop a range of future scenarios for energy and water supply, waste management, transportation and urban form, and will consider the social, economic and environmental implications for these scenarios.

For example, concepts around 'smart' and 'micro' grids promise to make energy and water systems more dynamically adaptable to changing demand and supply, allowing more localised production and control.

The aim of these discussions will be to generate strategies for developers, town planners and essential service providers to deploy new technologies and integrated systems of provision.

The Results

Catalysing innovation in urban design, critical infrastructure and essential services

CSIRO, in partnership with Celestino, are undertaking three studies.

  1. Interview based studies involving 26 professionals from the two case study areas of Sydney Science Park in Penrith and Flagstone in Logan. The focus of these studies was on planning system constraints to innovation in Greenfield development.
  2. Innovation workshops focussing on enablers conducted for the Sydney Science Park and Flagstone case studies.
  3. Nationwide survey on innovation constraints and enablers supported by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

Ongoing partnership aspirations are to:

  • Facilitate the development of an innovation planning framework and process that helps developers and planners identify, select, deploy and evaluate prospective technologies and service provision models.
  • Promote social learning networks and collaborative governance arrangements to guide delivery of special purpose innovation zones.
  • Devise strategies for managing risks associated with new technologies and servicing arrangements.
  • Develop models for ecologically sustainable, resilient and economic urban form and infrastructure.
  • Assess the relative costs and benefits between different approaches to urban design and infrastructure.

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