How to Build a Better World is The Fifth Estate's podcast about creating a future all humans can be proud of. Tina Perinotto, editor of Australia’s premium publication for sustainable property and business, talks to the people on the frontline with the power to address the big ecological, social and financial problems of our time.
Rob Adams: Challenging the status quo on urban planning
On our latest podcast, our managing editor, Tina Perinotto, spoke with urban planner Rob Adams.
Rob became Australia’s urban planning poster child when he launched an audacious goal to transform Melbourne’s CBD as director of planning at the City of Melbourne.
In those days, the city was suffering from a prolonged recession. The city streets were abandoned, especially at night and on the weekends. People had not yet discovered that CBDs could be vibrant and active.
So Rob started a program was called Postcode three thousand.
Part of the transformation involved refurbishing office buildings into apartments.
As a result, the city’s population blossomed. Suddenly, living in the CBD was cool, not a sad, windy endurance test when the city workers departed for their homes.
But that’s not all Rob is well known for. He’s recently launched a plan about concentrating development along the city’s transport routes, designed to leave the rest of suburban sites alone. This helps to “calm” residents so that they aren’t so fearful of development.
Amy Marks, the “queen of prefab”: Why building and construction is not an industry, it’s an ecosystem
In this episode, our managing editor, Tina Perinotto, spoke with Amy Marks from Autodesk, the “queen of prefab”, on why building and construction is not an industry but an ecosystem.
If the world’s buildings and cities are set to triple their footprint, as forecasters predict, sustainability will be a mighty challenge. Firstly, where are we sourcing our diminishing natural materials from? And can we still build and construct the way we’ve done traditionally?
Amy Marks is head of Industrialised Construction Strategy and Evangelism at the global technology company Autodesk. She says so much needs to change.
Her job is to transform building and construction so that it’s way more efficient and sustainable. This would have multiple dividends for businesses and the planet, she says.
Amy is one of those brilliant American outperformers that rightfully stand out on the global stage. She’s educated at Harvard, she’s a successful entrepreneur, a great thinker and a great speaker.
Thankfully, for the building and construction industry, she’s made her voice one to be reckoned with.
She says building and construction is NOT an industry. It’s an eco system and this means it can’t be disrupted or reformed from the bottom up. It has to be disrupted from the top down.
She means by influential clients such as large corporates or governments who can demand new outcomes through different methodologies.
Amy is focused on the value and efficiency of digitalisation and prefabrication. These are the ways that we can start to be conserve and repurpose our dwindling natural resources.
In construction, a wastage rate of 30 per cent is common. New technologies can go a long way to solving that problem. And they can also help the sector integrate new building materials that are more sustainable and efficient.
Amy has construction in the blood. Her family owned a construction management company in New York and she grew up on construction sites. So it’s no surprise she is such a fascinating person to talk to about this sector.
This episode was produced with the support of our corporate sponsor, Autodesk.
Tim Hollo: Why democracy is crumbling and how to fix it
On the podcast this week, Tina Perinotto, our managing editor, was joined by Tim Hollo, the executive director of the Green Institute.
Tim’s background is fascinating. He was a political advisor to Christine Milne during the highly volatile Gillard-Rudd years, which arguably had the biggest impact on the climate agenda in Australia.
He’s also had a background in environmental activism, with many insights gained from his training in law, and the intriguing field of political theatre, where he learnt about some of our most deeply ingrained human traits.
Among those is that when it comes to politics, we humans activate the most primitive parts of our brains – the part that works on our fight or flight responses.
Now that goes a long way to explain the choices we make at the polling booths.
Tim has also spent a lot of time thinking about democracy and why it’s crumbling: he says the deliberate obfuscation of reality in pursuit of self-interest can be truly frightening, but there are remedies. He’s a great believer in the power of trust and close communication with the people closest to us – our community.
He has deep respect for the notion of political ecology, which challenges the dominant political theory over the last 100 years, which sees humans as separate from the natural world and each other. Although Darwinism has led us to believe that competition is the key to a species’ success, cooperation has been proven to be just as powerful.
Esther Bailey: The quiet achievement of public service
Some people have a knack for driving change, and Esther Bailey is one of them. Joining our editor Tina Perinotto on the podcast this week, Esther talked about what she’d been up to at NABERS, the government’s environmental rating program for buildings. NABERS has transformed the office sector and is now overhauling other energy intensive sectors, with hospitals one such quiet achiever. She’s really interested in the circular economy, and says growing piles of waste might be even harder to control than climate change. With her training in behavioural science, Esther knows how to influence people’s behavior, but all for the better. This skillset came in handy for her eight years at the City of Sydney, where she worked on the Better Building Partnership and CitySwitch, two collaborative programs designed to encourage learning between leaders already vying for change. For Esther, a bit of healthy competition is one easy way to inspire action. Also, a heads up: NABERS is offering free ratings for a limited time, doing their bit to keep assessors in work during this uncertain time.
The local community driving progress, with Mayor of Fremantle Dr Brad Pettitt
In this episode, Tina talks to Dr Brad Pettitt, the longstanding Mayor of Fremantle. The Freo community has been receptive to Brad’s big, bold visions for a thriving, sustainable community, in fact, he says the locals actually push the council to do better. But the portside city has had its ups and downs, and it’s already feeling the bite of climate change – it's seeing days and days of 40-plus degrees, and record-low rainfalls. Even though Fremantle is home to some top-notch buildings, including Josh Byrne’s 10-star house, there’s also a culture of sub-standard, unsustainable development in WA. That’s one reason the Greens member wants to have statewide impact, so is making a run at the next state election.
Where we're winning the climate war, with Peter Newman
If you ever need a dose of optimism, you can always rely on Professor Peter Newman, a true legend of sustainability. The professor of sustainability at Curtin University joined editor of The Fifth Estate, Tina Perinotto, on the podcast this week and worked his usual hope-inspiring magic. He tells us why, despite what the federal government says, gas is over and done with. He tells us how there are 400,000 jobs in iron ore processing, using renewables, just waiting for us in the Pilbara. He takes us on a bird’s eye view of how big countries, such as China, are navigating the low energy transition. Interestingly, the politics are strangely familiar. Peter isn’t afraid to get philosophical – he’s worried about Africa’s sustainable shift out of poverty when the global community is turning inwards, reminding us that aid is not just charity, but rather an investment in fellow humans that ultimately benefits us all.