Skip to content
Curtin University
Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute

Sustainability Community Cafe Series

By Ainslie Beattie 21 August 2014 News Seminars No Comments »


The Community Cafe - 1 Sust Food[2]

Hi everyone – we are really pleased to announce a new seminar series we are running with the City of Fremantle based on the Principles of  One Planet Living.  Please click on the PDF link below and click through to eventbrite to register for the first seminar on Thursday 28th September at 4:30, down at Victoria Hall, Fremantle.

The Community Cafe – 1 Sust Food[2]


Hope to see you there.


Calling all PlaceMakers

By Ainslie Beattie 12 August 2014 News No Comments »

Hey everyone – check out these two fantastic events with Dr Ryan Reynolds coming up.  Please share with your colleagues and join us.


The Blue Room Flyer Final


cusp reynolds flyer Final

CUSP Masterclasses

By Ainslie Beattie 29 July 2014 News No Comments »

Sustainable Schools Low Carbon Living Workshops

By Ainslie Beattie 14 July 2014 Event No Comments »

CUSP Institute recently received funding from the Cooperative Research Council (CRC) for Low Carbon Living and the City of Fremantle to run a research program that seeks to examine the opportunities and the challenges facing schools trying to reduce their carbon footprint and how they can best integrate sustainability initiatives into the curriculum and everyday operations. A workshop will be held next month that will allow teachers, staff and other school stakeholders to participate in the initial stage of the program and learn about how their school can be involved in future stages.

As part of this program, selected schools in WA will receive free advice and assistance about what carbon neutral means, how they can start to measure and reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainability initiatives. We will be holding 2 workshop at the end of this month that will allow teachers, staff and other school stakeholders to participate in the initial stage of the program and learn about how their school can be involved in future stages.

Please see and share the flyer found here.

If you are interested in attending this workshop or want to know more, please contact either Dr Vanessa Rauland via her email or Portia Odell at

The 21st century road could take you somewhere interesting… and more sustainable

By Salome Husselmann 2 December 2013 Research No Comments »

By Cameron Jewell (Originally published in The Fifth Estate)

14 November 2013 – Roads that light up with massive snowflakes to warn of icy conditions, LED lighting that can see when your car has passed and turns itself off, and even a road that creates its own energy – these are some of the visions of roads for the coming decades.

One of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s oft-repeated election slogans was about “building the roads of the 21st century”.

Solar-powered LED signals in roads is one technology being investigated.

Solar-powered LED signals in roads is one technology being investigated.

“I want to be known as an infrastructure prime minister and I want building the roads of the 21st century to be a hallmark of my government,” Abbott said the day after being sworn in, in a speech regarding the WestConnex motorway in Sydney.

But what is a “21st century road”?

Is it simply a hollow catchphrase that could more concisely be referred to as a “road”?

Curtin University’s Charlie Hargroves hopes not.

He’s part of the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre, a key research broker between industry, government and research organisations servicing the built environment industry.

As part of the SBENRC’s “Greening the Built Environment” research program, Hargroves is working with Curtin’s Professor Peter Newman and Queensland University of Technology’s Dr Cheryl Desha on a project called “Strategies and Solutions for the Future of Roads”, which is looking at the very question of the future of roads – and there’s some very exciting innovations on the horizon.

“In this 21st century it will be a much different economic and environmental situation than it was in the last century, so we need to update,” Mr Hargroves told The Fifth Estate.

“What we’re trying to figure out is, in the 21st century, what are going to be the different conditions we’re going to have to incorporate into our road designs?

“We see it as an area that is critical to our country’s economic growth, and it’s going to face a lot of challenges in the future that it hasn’t faced before, and really is going to need some smart people looking at some complicated issues to try to prepare road agencies and the sector for what’s coming in the future.”

When we talk about roads, sustainability is rarely used in the same sentence, so why is the SBENRC interested in this area?

“The real focus on ‘why roads?’ for our team is that our research centre for 25 years has led the debate around the role of cars in our economy, and has traditionally been advocating a reduced use of cars, and we really want to complement that by looking at the infrastructure level,” Hargroves says.

“Roads are such a significant part of our country’s infrastructure investment, and they will be affected in ways in the future that they haven’t been before due to environmental changes, resource availability changes, road user preferences and vehicle choice changes.”

While the pressure on road agencies is “mainly financial” – the value of road construction in Australia is estimated at around $17.5 billion a year, with maintenance costs at around $5 billion a year and rising – Hargroves says there is always pressure for road agencies to show they’re acting in ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“There will always be some form of pressure to reduce carbon emissions, and there’s a lot of road agencies that are really excited by the opportunities coming up in the space,” he says.

And with roads and their users representing 22 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, it’s an important area to tackle.

Sustainable technologies

So what are these opportunities?

“One area we’re looking at is the incorporation of renewable energy generation in road infrastructure,” Hargroves says.

“So you can have your off-site wind farms and that kind of great stuff, but what we’re looking at is, can we tender road projects that have renewable energy components in the actual road project?

“So things like if someone’s building a bridge, they can put some tidal or wave turbines underneath the bridge, or they can put some wind turbines under the bridge or inside the bridge structure.”

Roads could also be designed to allow electricity generation through capturing solar or kinetic energy, he says.

“Australia’s doing some great research on piezoelectric alternatives, where electricity is drawn from movement. I know CSIRO is doing some cool stuff with clothes that recharge your phone as you move. But there’s also work with roads: as cars are moving over asphalt, they create a little bit of movement in the pavement to generate a bit of electricity.

A concept for lanes that allow electric cars to recharge put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

A concept for lanes that allow electric cars to recharge put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

A concept for lanes that allow electric cars to recharge put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

“But then there’s also ways – particularly in northern states – where some of these surface temperatures are getting up to 40-50°C – that’s within decent range to start to create electrical current just from the temperature differential.”

Solar panels could even be directly integrated into roads for signalling.

“Some of the cool stuff they’re trialling in Europe is actually to put LED lights integrated with solar panels into roads,” Hargroves says.

“So you can have active signage in the actual road. They can make it say what they want in the asphalt, like a big snowflake to indicate icy conditions ahead, or make it turn into a crosswalk.”

A similar concept has been proposed through the use of temperature-sensitive dynamic paint.

A temperature-responsive dynamic paint concept unveiled at Dutch Design Week 2012

A temperature-responsive dynamic paint concept unveiled at Dutch Design Week 2012

A temperature-responsive dynamic paint concept unveiled at Dutch Design Week 2012

Another area being looked at is smart roads, which uses information technology to control traffic flows.

“Smart roads is really an IT solution to use the knowledge of how the traffic is flowing to improve how the traffic is flowing, Hargroves says.

It’s used in a limited way in Australia but in Europe and the US its been taken to the next level.

“They have really good sensors that can shut off on-ramps because there’s just too much congestion, so it talks to the on-ramp and closes the boom gate and says no more cars for the next, say seven minutes because it’s too busy.

“And it’s about giving realtime data to users – ideally through their phone or GPS – on least congested traffic routes based on all the sensor data.

“From an environmental point of view, congestion to us means additional emissions by cars sitting there running, not getting off the road as quickly as they can.”

Reductions in energy demand from route and signal lighting changes is an area where the financial and sustainability benefits are well aligned, though there are some problems.

“It’s obvious LEDs are great, but how does that factor into road projects? There’s little things that cause hiccups, like if you’re going to retrofit existing light poles, when you change to LEDS you actually need a different spacing between poles to provide the requirements of light. The poles are designed on sodium vapour lamps, and are much too close to each other, and if you fill them with LEDs then you’ve got too bright a situation.”

One exciting prospect is using motion sensors to control lighting on rural roads, much like in many high-performing commercial offices.

A motion sensor lights concept put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

A motion sensor lights concept put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

A motion sensor lights concept put forward at Dutch Design Week 2012

“A hundred kilometres of freeway out in the top of Western Australia could be completely dark until a car enters the freeway and then as it goes along, a kilometre before and after the car the lights are on, and as soon as there isn’t any activity for a while the lights go off,” Hargroves says.

“So it’s really about trying to cut costs.”

For more up-and-coming technologies, have a look at this image designed by Neo Mammalian Studios.

What are the challenges?

Financially, a lot of these technologies are in their infancy so having a road agency employ them now is unlikely.

However, Hargroves says investigating these options now is vital for long-term economic sustainability.
“Initially when you think about these options you’d think they’re too expensive, but that’s what someone would have said about the mobile phone.”

“Initially when you think about these options you’d think they’re too expensive, but that’s what someone would have said about the mobile phone,” says Hargroves.

Environmental changes like altering rainfall patterns, greater salinity levels, increased fuel and resource costs, and decreasing resource availability mean that roads are getting more expensive to build and maintain, so innovative solutions are desperately needed.

“It’s an area where the infrastructure, we think, is potentially quite vulnerable in the future.”

Finance for roads

The tender process is another major stumbling block.

“Once it gets to the tender stage, it’s very difficult to bring in something new because there isn’t a process to assess the viability of it,” Hargroves says.

“So you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know about this foamed bitumen or half-mixed concrete, or this new option, because we didn’t really consider it at the start.’ Once you get a fair bit down the road it’s quite difficult to add new things in.

“When we start looking at increases in fuel costs, or increases in resource costs, or greater levels of damage from climatic conditions, a lot of that stuff isn’t factored into tenders.

“If you’ve underestimated some of these factors that, at the moment, are quite unknown, then it adds risk to the project and adds risk to you in the future.”

A collaboration with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia – an in-kind partner – could help things along.

See our article Softly, softly on the hard task of sustainable infrastructure

The potential is for ISCA to be a proxy for best-practice design, much like how Green Star or LEED is used in the design stage for buildings.

“We see it as a really valuable tool to inform up-front design, which is why we want to enhance and do what we can to inform the further development of that tool, and make it clear how it can be used for tendering,” Hargroves says.

Bring back the labs

Things have changed so little in the roads industry that we need to enhance our capacity to prove new options, Hargroves says.

Government, he says, needs to engage more with industry and universities to do more research and testing of innovations.

“Once upon a time we had state testing labs and companies had testing labs and universities had lots of testing labs; we did all this great testing 30-40 years ago, but now there’s very little of that going on.

“Because there’s so much that needs to be road tested, so to speak, it’s just not clear who should be doing that, and the mechanisms for doing that aren’t clear either.

“The question really is who’s responsibility is it to prove new advances in road construction? Is it state government’s responsibility, is it the contractor’s responsibility, or is it the professional bodies or the universities?”

Hargroves likes the method used by the Dutch government in the early 2000s.

“They encouraged the universities and the private companies to work together. It’s kind of like the [cooperative research centre] model – so there might even be a CRC for road technology.

“Universities are well-placed to do the research. And that does allow for a certain amount of unbiased investigation into these projects.

“But I would say it’s a combination of state governments providing clear questions about what they’re facing and what they want to know more about, and universities going back to the old days where we reopen our labs and start thinking about, can we be doing testing of products, testing or processes and testing of new systems?

“It’s a tough one, and it’s going to vary from state-to-state.

“We don’t want to take 10 or 20 years to investigate it, but it does need a proper look to figure out, for example, whether solar panels in roads is viable from an economic or maintenance point of view, or looking at the issue of changing bulbs in lighting.

“It might sound like boring stuff, but when you think about energy consumption and infrastructure investment, these are big ticket items for a lot of governments.”

Sustainable Transport and Deliberative Democracy

By Joshua Reid 22 October 2013 Fremantle News Uncategorized No Comments »

Peter Newman was riding high on sustainable transport in India this month on the way to the next stage of a Curtin research project.

CUSP has a team1 working on an AusAID project in India about ‘Sustainable Transport and Deliberative Democracy’. It is based on two cities: Bangalore and Pune. The Bangalore project is about how to develop an Indian model for funding a new rail line using value capture, a financing technique in which CUSP has particular expertise. This project is a partnership with the Indian Institute of Science (Centre for Infrastructure Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning, CiSTUP) and the State Government of Karnataka (Directorate of Urban Land Transport, DULT). The other project is in Pune and is about how to manage streets so that non-car users have greater priority. This is in partnership with the BN College of Architecture, Pune Municipal Corporation and two NGO’s Parisar and the Centre for Environmental Education.

The project has three PhD students who are supported by scholarships from Curtin, AusAID and PATREC.

A major part of the innovation in the project is the way that full stakeholder approaches to the issues are taken through deliberative democracy. Professor Janette Hartz-Karp runs this part of the project and has been using new technology that enabled the Bangalore Workshop to produce a consensus report at the end of one day’s deliberation. ‘I was delighted to find that Indian responses were just as enthusiastic to the new deliberative approach as in Australia’, Professor Hartz-Karp said.

‘The most absorbing part of the project’ according to Professor Newman ‘is that in Bangalore the State Government has announced a commitment to building the new rail line and are seeking assistance from CUSP and CiSTUP to deliver it’. ‘This is not just a research project, it is a really important piece of infrastructure that needs our research in order to be delivered’ he said. An MOU between Curtin (CUSP), Karnataka State Government and IISc (CiSTUP) was announced by the Minister for Planning on October 9th at the deliberation workshop.

In Pune the project involves the development of a model area called Dattawadi to demonstrate how to enhance walking and cycling, as well as manage cars, motor bikes and parking. ‘This is a tall order in any city’ Professor Newman said, ‘but especially in a place where traffic has become a bit of a nightmare.

However the local council and a national politician announced after the Pune workshop that the detailed designs developed by the students and enhanced through the deliberative process, will be implemented’.

‘It has been a remarkably successful trip’ Professor Newman said. ‘The hard work at developing partnerships and delivering a real project through a deliberative process has shown what can be done through a shared vision for change.’

1 The team is Peter Newman, Janette Hartz-Karp, Annie Matan, James McIntosh and Jan Scheurer from CUSP and Reena Tiwari from Urban and Regional Planning.

Thursday Seminar – October 10th – Satis Arnold

By Ainslie Beattie 8 October 2013 Seminars No Comments »

Join us for our weekly CUSP seminar – this week focusing on :

Sri Lanka’s environmental challenges and performance.

Sri Lanka faces a multiplicity of environmental challenges including severe urban transport congestion; deforestation, soil erosion and dam siltation, poor industrial and urban waste management; wildlife loss, sea level rise, mangrove destruction, coastal degradation and mismanagement of land use; freshwater pollution; and atmospheric pollution. There is a reasonable legislative framework in place and legislative response to new issues as they arise, but the regulatory, administrative and enforcement response falls short of requirements for a sustainable future.

NGO and community action is vibrant but the challenges are enormous. Environmental education at all levels is a key need, insufficiently supported by government and other sectors. Without a stronger will, commitment and action by government, corporate sector and community, it is difficult to imagine a bright environmental future for Sri Lanka.

A bit about our presenter: Satis Arnold

Satis Arnold is a director of Cambridge Partners, consulting in some aspects of corporate environmental sustainability and higher education finance and policy. He is a former director of the Australian Sustainable Development Institute at Curtin, Director Policy and Planning at Murdoch, Senior Policy Adviser at ANU and Director Higher Education Research Policy in the Australian Government’s education bureaucracy. He gives the climate change lectures in the CUSP masters program in environmental sustainability.

Thursday October 10th, 2013
Morning Tea
11am, Seminar 11.30-12.30
CUSP – 3 Pakenham Street, Fremantle
Please join us for morning tea before the seminar
For more information or to join this list, visit our website:
Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute

Thursday Seminar by Peter Newman

By Ainslie Beattie 24 September 2013 Seminars No Comments »

Join us this week at 11am for Morning Tea and 11:30 for our weekly seminar – Professor Peter Newman is back in town between teaching and Fellowship engagements and will deliver this weeks seminar.

Peter has been an Erskine Fellows at University of Canterbury in Christchurch for the past two months. He has been making a film with Tim Beatley and Linda Blagg about the regeneration of Christchurch after it was decimated by the recent earthquakes. Peter will talk about this work and some of the grass-roots actions that are helping to re-establish Christchurch, and the leaders who are inspiring Christchurch’s rejuvenation as a better city for the future.

Hope to see you Thursday – 11:00 Morning Tea and 11:30 – 12:30 Seminar

3 Packenham Street, Fremantle


Ainslie Beattie – CUSP Outreach Officer

Short courses running next week at CUSP!

By Vanessa Rauland 2 August 2013 Students Teaching & Learning No Comments »

Short courses at CUSP…

Climate Policy

2 Days – 9th & 12th August

Course Overview

Climate change has become a major focus of public policy in recent years and likely to play a key role in the upcoming Federal election. However, there is still a considerable amount of confusion around this critical policy topic.

This 2 day course offers participants a chance to broaden their understanding of climate change in terms of both  both adaptation and mitigation. An overview of the various policies, approaches and mechanisms currently used to target emissions at the global, national and local levels is provided. Practical information on latest policy developments is delivered by industry professionals working in the field.

This is an opportunity to expand your knowledge on climate policies and how they can help the transition to a low carbon economy.

Course Details

The course will be run at CUSP (3 Pakenham St, Fremantle). For more information contact

Decarbonising Cities and Regions

3 Days – 13th, 15th & 16th August

Course Overview

The world is trying to reduce carbon emissions by 80% before 2050. This course examines ways of reducing emissions within our cities and regions through various new technologies, lifestyle and behavioural change programs, urban and regional planning approaches and other End-User policies and initiatives.

The course is delivered by a range of industry professionals, academics and respected leaders in the field. Aimed at both students and professionals from a variety of backgrounds, this course provides an opportunity to expand your knowledge and practice on how to decarbonise society through practical measures.

Course Details

The course will be run at CUSP (3 Pakenham St, Fremantle). For more information contact:

Thursday Seminar – Cal Founder Upside Nepal

By Ainslie Beattie 12 June 2013 Seminars No Comments »

CUSP Morning Tea Seminar Thurs 13th June 2013

Presenter: Cal Foulner

Upside – Growing sustainability in Nepal

Be inspired by Cal Foulner – the founder of Upside, as he discusses how Upside came to be, what they do and the team’s vision for the future.
Upside is a not-for-profit that believes in the potential of micro enterprise and that remote villages are naturally motivated to address the social issues facing their community. Upside partners with villages in Nepal to develop community owned agriculture businesses. Once generating a profit, these businesses sustainably fund health and educational services in the village.  What can Australians learn from the lifestyle of the Nepalese people?

The presenter: Cal Foulner

A bit about Cal…

Cal Foulner is the founder and co-manager of Upside, a not-for-profit working in partnership with remote villages in Nepal. Cal was inspired to start Upside with the help of a group of mates after he returned from a trip to Kathmandu in 2009 at age 21. He is currently completing the last semester of a Bachelor of Commerce at UWA after taking a three year hiatus to spend time in between Nepal and Australia. His focus has been on developing Upside’s first two projects, a school boarding house and a 2,000 tree apple orchard in the remote Ghiling village.

When:  Thursday June 13th 2013
Time:   Morning Tea
11am, 11.30-12.30 Seminar
Where: CUSP – 3 Pakenham Street, Fremantle

Feel free to join us for a cuppa and a chat before the seminar

For more information or to join this list, visit our website:
Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute
Page 1 of 1012310Last »