How to integrate technologies for sustainable urban development: The Environmental Technology Centre at Murdoch University
Ho, G. (2003) How to integrate technologies for sustainable urban development: The Environmental Technology Centre at Murdoch University. In: International Sustainability Conference, 17 - 19 September, Fremantle, Western Australia.
The Environmental Technology Centre (ETC) is a Centre of Excellence for Industry focussed Research & Development in Environmental Technology. The ETC is the Asia Pacific Partner Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme International Environmental Technology Centre. The aim of the ETC is to research, develop and demonstrate environmental technologies, conduct education and training, provide consultancy services to industry, and raise community awareness of environmental technologies. Its facilities are open to industries wishing to test and monitor products within the university infrastructure.
The ETC occupies a 1.7-hectare site on the Murdoch University campus at which over fifty environmental technologies have been combined to form an integrated operating demonstration system. The technologies used and researched at the site include climate-sensible buildings, renewable energy systems for power supply and water pumping, aquaculture systems, organic waste management, and permaculture. The integrated approach allows research to be carried out on the important interactions between different technologies, rather than just the effect of a single technology. This gives the ETC a considerable advantage over other research institutions that focus on single technologies in relative isolation.
The ETC is able to offer holistic and flexible solutions to human needs. The ETC's focus is on small to medium-scale environmental technologies, which are low cost, robust, efficient, and easy to operate and maintain. The aim of this is to maximise the opportunities for user communities to "own" the technology, resulting in greater and more sustained uptake of the technology, higher levels of community awareness and involvement, and ultimately a more successful operation. This approach is highly applicable to communities in developing countries, as well as to urban communities worldwide, particularly when applied in collaboration with industry and government.
The challenges facing adoption of such integrated approaches to technology transfer and implementation are varying in nature depending on the application but in the case of cities and urban planning it is often regulatory barriers, economic viability under existing financing frameworks, and the level of knowledge in government. Industry itself has enormous capacity to innovate and adapt to such changes.
This paper aims to show how the integration of technologies in water, permaculture, renewable energy and sustainable construction aims to achieve and demonstrate sustainability in its 1.7 ha site.
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