The pathway to Perth's green future

Perhaps one of the most exciting opportunities for property professionals to unlock is using technology to solve sustainability problems. This is a reality for James Eggleston, Senior Analyst at Power Ledger and Doctoral Researcher at CUSP Institute, who is exploring the role of technology in decarbonising our cities. According to James, the future is green for Perth.

What is driving the development of green buildings in Western Australia?

The drivers of the development of green buildings in WA are a series of complex interacting forces. At the policy level meeting density targets, from an economic standpoint there is an increased focus on managing operational costs in buildings and the avoidance of headworks charges for utility services on greenfield developments. At the individual level, catering for downsized dwellings for older generations, in addition to building to cater for the needs and wants of younger generations. 

These drivers are likely to proliferate Green Buildings in WA. They could lead to increased savings on both building development and operating costs. This presents a unique point of difference in a soft property market by attracting buyers for greenfield developments and retaining tenants. Building upward around activity centres with appropriate scaling offers affordable lifestyles for those who choose to live close to the CBD near amenities and transport. Ultimately, these measures benefits society by lessening the building stock’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.  

What project are you working on at the moment that most excites you? 

Accelerating the uptake of distributed generation, storage and blockchain by transforming legacy electricity networks into community owned economic engines. Interconnected local energy markets have emerged as an anticipated outcome of a monumental shift in the electricity industry away from centralised network planning. Monolithic business models, characterized by fossil fuelled bulk generation and one-way delivery are being disrupted by decentralised renewable models complemented with storage, in which end users play a more active role in both production and consumption of electricity. 

This year we have joined a consortium of technology partners aggregating 100 Japanese houses into a single virtual power plant using distributed generation and battery storage. The project is expected to grow from 100 rooftops to over 55,000 rooftops by the end of 2020.  On home soil, I am most excited about the recent deployment of the first grid connected utility scale battery into the City of Fremantle as part of our Renew Nexus project funded by the Australian Federal Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs program. We are working with the Energy Retailer, Network Operator and local University turning the City of Fremantle into an energy internet. 

Let’s fast forward 50 years – what does Western Australia look like? 

Perth’s population is projected to hit 3.5 million by 2050 – doubling the current number of inhabitants. It’s likely that Perth would have also leapfrogged Brisbane by this point as the third largest city in Australia. By 2050 our utility services would have been completely decentralised, electricity will be 100 per cent renewable and we would be classed as a regenerative city - having gone beyond sustainability. More native bushland will be infused into and throughout the metropolis, and our city's glass and steel towers would have trebled both in number and size. Australia's high-speed rail network will have trains pulling into the Perth CBD on the hour - a 3hr commute from the east coast. Having 50 per cent of the world's population located in and around Perth's timezone (Asia), our city would have become a beacon for global innovation and trade; a lighthouse city for liveability and a robust economic engine. 

Want to know more about James’ inspiring work? Join us at Green Building Day in Perth on May, where he’ll present during the session The Energy Internet: Unlocking cities to distributed generation and storage.