November 2018, the Co.Lab 2018 meeting was held in Parramatta and hosted by Landcom and the UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation. In the meeting, a number of leading academician, government officials, and trade representatives discussed the issues of sustainability in the development sector.

Professor Cameron Tonkinwise, director of the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre, stated that there were many alternatives to air-conditioning that included taking a lesson from Asia and the Middle East. Where some countries use night time for their markets, and others use rooftops at night for sleeping.

What Professor Tonkinwise said that there is lack of imagination at work in developing sustainability strategies and that we are “not good at imagining social strategies” he went on to claim that what we need is “new imagination” to help develop our cities.

The Co.lab event is crucial to creating a narrative that crosses sectors and is “absolutely crucial for developing holistic systems-based approaches,” stated Professor Tonkinwise.

Essentially, Professor Tonkinwise is aiming at studying foreign solutions to current Australian issues and adapting them to improve the living conditions as well as improve the environmental impact at the simultaneously.

Another speaker, John Brogden, DEO of Landcome stated that we need “to ensure that the cities of tomorrow are created using a strong and credible evidence base.” He went on to say that “Landcom doesn’t have all the answers, which is why our partnerships with universities, vocational education providers and schools are so important to help solve some of the issues we face when planning new communities.”

There were many more speakers, among them was Barry Mann, UrbanGrowth NSW chief executive who stated that “This event presents an exciting opportunity for us to consider how we will continue to develop of shared sense of place and sustainable communities through innovation, learning, and collaboration.”

Another major impact speaker was Dr. Alana Mann from Sydney University’s Sydney Environment Institute. She presented the case for urban food production space, stating that “We need to think about where food is coming from,” in light of the impact of growing food in increasingly dense cityscapes.

She claimed that around 8.5% of inner Sydney residents suffer from food insecurity. The solution to this issue lies in creating a proper infrastructure for transportation and distribution.

Other issues that were raised included Western Sydney University Ph.D. student Navodana Rodrigo’s presentation about using Blockchain for managing embodied carbon and not just focus on operational carbon emissions. According to Rodrigo, accuracy is key to rate carbon emissions, and there is more assumption than accuracy today.

The bottom line is that companies are in it for the profit, and will not likely change their approach until sustainable solutions fall in line with profitability.