Sustainable Built Environments
The built environment consumes a significant amount of energy and resources: for manufacturing materials, constructing buildings, outdoor spaces and roads, supplying electricity and water to residential and commercial buildings, managing waste, and transporting people and goods.
With increasing population density, warming climates, and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, built environments need to be better planned, designed and managed not only to reduce environmental impacts and dependents of new resources, but also to ensure that communities will live in a healthy environment and be more resilient to future changes.
Climate-resilient urban planning and design, climate-responsive building designs and materials, and energy-efficient and heating, cooling and lighting systems in buildings, altogether, can half the energy consumption from buildings and the greenhouse gas emission from the built environment. In turn, these will improve the quality of living environments, both outdoor and indoor, benefitting the lives of people and minimizing health costs.
Our research in this area seeks to develop new ideas and evidence-based solutions to transform our built environment to be environmentally, socially, culturally and economically sustainable and resilient. We strive to implement a 'circular economy’ – an economic system that eliminates waste and continual use of resources – by designing for the future through the incorporation of digital technologies, rethinking existing business models, collaborating to create joint values, preserving and extending the use of what is already made, and reusing waste as well as regenerating resources.
We focus on three critical areas of research:
Urban, regions and landscapes deals with sustainable landscapes, urban climatology, urban heat mitigation and adaptation, zero carbon cities and neighbourhoods, green and blue infrastructures, and sustainable transport planning.
Buildings, structures and materials aims to assess existing and develop new design and technologies to achieve climate resilient zero carbon buildings and techniques. This includes developing structurally and environmentally sound construction and materials, minimising construction wastes and reusing energy storage through modelling, experiment, testing and monitoring.
People in the built environment adopts cross-cultural and socio-technological approaches to understand the past and existing communities to build future resilient communities to live in affordable, safe and healthy environments for all.
Our research and its impact on society
Our Sustainable Built Environments researchers aim to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (particularly Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation and Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities) as well as The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide (Department of Infrastructure and Transport), Green Adelaide (Department of Environment and Water), City of Adelaide’s Sustainability Program, and the sustainability goals of other local governments in South Australia.
It also aims to partner with the industry and private sectors to produce innovation in the context of sustainable built environment.
UNHaRMED, which stands for Unified Natural Hazard Risk Mitigation Exploratory Decision support system, is an interactive modelling platform designed to support policy makers in considering the long term impacts of disaster risk, mitigation and land use planning.
Picture: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Our researchers are determining the best house designs that will keep homes warm in winter and cool in summer, enabling older people to stay in their homes and live independently for longer.
Our research capabilities
Our Sustainable Built Environments researchers work closely with industry and associated research centres and institutes to address some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Associated research centres and institutes
- ARC Research Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation
- Australian Institute for Machine Learning
- Centre for Automotive Safety Research
- Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA)
- Centre for Energy Technology
- Environment Institute
- Institute for Geometry and its Applications
- Institute for Minerals and Energy Resources
- Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing
- Smart Cities
- Teletraffic Research Centre (TRC)
- Waite Research Institute
Professor Veronica Soebarto is the research theme leader for Sustainable Built Environments. Her research areas include building thermal/energy simulation; environmental monitoring; sustainable building design and assessments; human thermal comfort; age-friendly built environment; and social dimension of sustainability and sustainable design.