Your windows are too big

Last week I got one of those phone calls…”How quickly can you do a JV3 model?”

Yep, no one had checked that the windows complied with the NCC and now they needed a building permit – today!

I was pretty blunt and told them that I needed 2 weeks, but I also took a look at their drawings;  they had enormous windows in the East and West facades. I told them that if they wanted a building permit asap, they should look at redesigning their windows to comply with the Deemed to Satisfy requirements.

How many times have we ESD consultants had this conversation?  It’s such a familiar one that a few years ago I made a tool so that I could send architects away to investigate the options for window areas and window types on their own.  With the changes to the NCC next year, it won’t be useful for much longer.  So I’m sharing it with you now.

Check out my glazing area calculator.

That community open air stage!

My community open air stage project is now live on Pick my Project.  If you live within 5km of my project, you can vote for it!

Voting is quick and simple, and open until 5pm, Monday 17 September:

  1. Go to Pick My Project and sign in.
  2. Select your local community by entering your postcode. You can then browse the project ideas in your local community – our project is called ‘Open Air Stage‘.
  3. Pick your three favourite project ideas from your shortlist and verify your mobile number. You’ll then be able to submit your vote.

Help me make this underused space on the Richmond Estate into a community and arts hub for the whole community.

I’m working on this project with Belgium Avenue Neighborhood House, an organisation that supports the local community through events, the arts and food.

Help me build a community stage

One of the things I enjoy about working for myself is being able to make the time for involvement in my local community.  A few years ago I spent some time singing in a local community band.  We would occasionally perform at local community events, usually on the Richmond or Collingwood Housing Estates.  While we were doing that, my husband, James Brown (yes, really) was also doing regular gigs in his various african bands (shameless plug).  We thought, “wouldn’t it be great if there was a stage/performance space on the Richmond Estate.”

Now that Pick My Project is available, we’re thinking that it would be great to get the government to build that stage.  An open air stage could have music on Friday nights, local events like the Moon Lantern Festival could avoid hiring a stage and the local kids could include performances in their imaginative play.  That community band I used to sing with could also use it for open mic nights in summer.

We think this space between 108 and 110 Elizabeth St is a pretty good location.  It’s near the bbq’s and the North Richmond Community Health Centre and the local space is a bit of a natural amphitheater.  It’s currently a bit of a wasteland too.between 108 and 110 Elizabeth St Richmond

The stage will need to be pretty bullet proof, and include power and somewhere to hang lights and speakers.

To nominate the project, I need to have a pretty picture and an estimate of the likely costs.  I already have an auspicing organisation and I’m the local person – I live about 100m away.  I’ll have a red hot go at the pretty picture, but I’d really like someone to give me a hand with estimating the likely costs.  Can you help with estimating or drawing pretty pictures?



Construction waste – what to do?

We’ve all heard about the “recycling crisis” but I haven’t heard much more about how it affects the projects we’re working on. So this article in The Age today is a bit of a prompt to find out more.

Since C & D Recycling opened in Lara less than two years ago, it has collected so much industrial material – mostly refuse from construction and demolition work – that the pile now exceeds the legal nine-metre height limit and spills outside the permitted storage area.

Good on me!

Today i got a lovely call from Sam at Ecoresults to ask if i was happy for him to put my name forward for a new project – yes!  And while we were chatting, he mentioned that my website was down.

I thought it weird because I usually check my website about once a week, and when I took a quick look it all looked fine.  But when I looked a little closer, all of the sub links were broken.  I spent a bit of time with Dr Google and finally sorted out how to fix the problem (even if i still don’t understand how the problem happened).

Amusingly, because I took a look at the sub links I noticed how out of date many of them are.  So I’ve updated my list of projects, especially my Green Star projects.


A few years ago, when I was still at WSP Built Ecology, I did a presentation at Green Cities.  It was called “Getting our shit together –  A history of human sanitation and how it might apply to building design in the future”  

It was fun, it tapped into my unhealthy obsession with composting toilets, and people remembered it at the dinner the following night.

The biggest message was that the most effective ways of dealing with human waste involve separating the solids from the liquid.  It makes dealing with both waste “streams” easier.  In fact, most of the waste water treatment that’s done is to deal with the salts associated with urine.

Recently, a friend posted a great link to a Smithsonian magazine article discussing the historic uses of urine.

Maybe we could be inspired to find some way to include urine diversion in our projects and set up some social enterprise to make good use of the urine?


Saving the planet with trains

goods-shedI took the Skybus  to the airport on Tuesday and we drove through the backblocks of the airport, past the new freight warehouses.  I saw the trucks backed up to the loading docks,  like I imagine they would have been at the Goods Shed  when the freight trains were loaded and unloaded from the centre of the shed.


Forklift loading AusPost truckThe airport infrastructure I saw is all new since the development of eBay and and includes a major change in the nearby roads and airport – there’s a dedicated freight terminal, many new warehouses and some lovely large roads for the trucks.  I think it’s a direct result of the stuff we’ve been buying off the internet.  Can we use a similar mechanism to influence the development of more sustainable transport options? [1]

As a child I remember going with my mother to pick up a parcel from the local suburban train station [2] and now I wonder what we would need to do to replace all of the trucks and vans delivering our internet purchases.

I want more freight to travel by train. I want the freight train system to make enough money to provide the infrastructure so I can catch a train to Adelaide on a service that operates more than twice a week and takes less than 10 hours. I want to be able to nominate a train based freight service when I buy my box of “vegan-friendly” toothbrushes. I wonder if some sort of sharing economy like service would drive the development of the infrastructure we need to make this a reality?

Train passengersWhat if we had parcel boxes at train stations? Could we start a social movement (no pun intended) carrying our neighbor’s parcels from the city train stations to the suburbs? Could people carry an extra suitcase of stuff when they take the train from Sydney to Melbourne? Would it catch on to the point where people are deliberately catching trains to deliver parcels? And then would big biz notice and start building train based freight infrastructure like the warehousing, terminal expansion and the extra (freight only) runway at the airport?

Whatever the future holds, we need to identify and promote the small things that will move the status quo to the world we want to have.

[1] I’ve assumed that  trains are more sustainable/use less resources than planes and trucks and certainly the fuel usage backs that up  –

[2]  It is likely that parcel went through the Goods Shed – the Goods Shed stopped operating in the 1990’s



I am a pendant pedant and I saw this and laughed.  Putting it here so you can laugh with me.

illegible vs eligible

It’s the Greenhouse Gas Emissions credit in the new Design and As-Built tool.  I think they meant eligible…

Belated update

I’m busy and stressed, so I’ve re-arranged this website and now I’m updating here.

I’m planning to get the first round of Kathmandu’s volume certification submission off my to do list by Tuesday next week, in time for celebratory drinks.

Sigh, better get back to it I suppose.

PS. If you have clicked, check out my new resources and links page.  I’m going to keep adding stuff here, so suggestions would be welcome.


A long time ago I set up a wiki for the company I was working for.  We used it to record our processes and included links to the documents we used every day.  It was really handy for Green Star references, but we also had a couple of fun pages including reviews of good lunch spots.

It was while working on the wiki that I learned to call the minor updates and tweaks to a website, “weeding”.  They’re really important to keep things organised, fresh and useful.

Today I finally got to some of the weeding that’s needed doing around here.  I’ve updated my NABERS page and the “free” NABERS assessments pages to include the revised NABERS Admin fees for Cityswitch signatories.  It’s a bit sad,  NABERS have decided to charge small tenants for their assessments and it won’t be as easy to persuade small tenants to let me give them a free energy assessment. Also, I quite like meeting new people and seeing the different ways people and their buildings work.  You have until 1 July 2014 to get it all organised at the old (free) rate for tenancies under 1000m2.

On the other hand, I’ve been pretty focused on Kathmandu and their Green Star Interiors PILOT rating for the last few months and I would prefer to be using my fabulous Green Star knowledge and experience on that and other great projects. 🙂