Considerations for Solving Perth’s Sustainability Issues

(Ryan Clayton, Eat Trees, Poop Houses)


With all of the stats and figures provided, and quite readily available for industry professionals, Perth has still been labelled as the least sustainable city in Australia. So what exactly is keeping Perth from progressing, and how can that be changed? There are a few factors that need to be addressed in order for our building industry to realise & implement eco-efficiency in buildings. For the most part, a soft approach with encouragement through incentives is ideal, but fundamental basic implementations should be delivered through planning policies & schemes.

As architects, the first and most important factor leading to change is educating ourselves in the early stages of education & training. Sustainably seems to be a word that is thrown around a lot in the education system. From my own personal experience, in my four years of training, I have not undertaken a unit that focuses solely on eco-efficiency of a building. When designing passively, the site needs to be heavily understood, orientation, wind direction for cross-ventilation etc. We must also know how to apply different materials in various situations to ensure that the desired deliverables are being achieved. A whole unit is required to be able to fully understand the impact our design decisions are making on the environment.

A typical layperson will unlikely be aware of how much of an impact passive design can have on the day-to-day running’s of a household. It is up to the architect to inform & make knowledgeable design decisions, rather than placing walls & windows where they like, just for aesthetics. Too much emphasis is put on the aesthetics of a home, without really considering the performance. Passive design can be as simple as strategically placing windows in certain areas and changing the materials of specific walls facing a certain orientation. Architects have a moral obligation to design not just aesthetically, but strategically too, with passive design being second nature.

Incentives need to be increased to encourage the industry to go green. Currently the Green Building Council of Australia, using green star ratings, assesses buildings. One notion or idea that could entice professionals to design more efficiently is to provide an incentive or bonus, depending on what level of green star your building has achieved. Architects are the informed decision makers when it comes to a building, and are consistently providing advice & assistance to politicians. We should be pushing for more sustainable incentives to convince the public & government of the importance of eco-efficiency in the building industry. There is also the added bonus of decreased running costs for the occupants, but unfortunately Perth cannot rely on laypersons to understand the vast amount of benefits an eco-efficient home can save in the long run. Incentives speaks the language of the people; money, and will hopefully eventuate in a more sustainable Perth.

As specified in previous posts, Perth’s weather is well-known for the amount of sun it receives. The city is also consistently scrutinized for not harvesting enough of the sun’s rays. Planning policies need to be put in to place to ensure every development approval from here on in, are to include some sort of photovoltaic cells. With most councils being advised by urban planners & architects, it is something we should be pushing for as a bare minimum. With the recent development of glass solar panels in Western Australia, (Briana Shepherd, ABC News), Perth is leading the way in new found technology in solar. There is no reason for the city not to embrace solar, and implement adequate planning policies to ensure future developments incorporate at the bare minimum and an absolute no-brainer, solar power.


(Briana Shepherd, Energy Harvesting Clear Glass Created by Perth Team)



Briana Shepherd, “Energy harvesting Clear Glass Created by Perth Team, ABC News, March 27, 2017, accessed April 5, 2017,–edith-cowan-univesity/8390900

Ryan Clayton, Eat Trees, Poop Houses, accessed April 5th, 2017,

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