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A word from Rom – A new deal for sustainable cities

Pictured (L-R): Andrew Cole, General Manager – Group Sustainability, myself, and Geoff Dutaillis, Group Head of Sustainability, Lendlease.

 

Last week, I was in New York visiting the largest real estate project in America’s history – Hudson Yards.

On the doorstep of The Highline in one of the last undeveloped areas of Manhattan, the AUD$27 billion project will eventually feature 16 skyscrapers with more than 1.6 million sqm of office, residential and retail space. An eye-watering 125,000 people will eventually work at, visit or call Hudson Yards their home.

According to some analysts, Hudson Yards is expected to add around $25 billion annually to New York City’s gross domestic product once the development is complete in 2025 – that's 2.5 per cent of the city's GDP, and more than Iceland's entire output in 2015.

This ‘city within a city’ is being jointly planned, funded and constructed by the City of New York, the State of New York, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with private sector partners.

While touring the site, I was struck by two things: that our governments must work together build the cities we need for our future; and that sustainable cities will be created at the neighbourhood scale.

Just this week, the Prime Minister announced the Coalition’s commitment to partner with state and local governments on a new ‘City Deal’ for Western Sydney.

A new airport at Badgery’s Creek would create 39,000 jobs over the next two decades, and 178,000 new homes would be required – as well as 200,000 new jobs – to support the 1.4 million people living in the area.

Mr Turnbull has said the Western Sydney Airport project will be the “largest planning, investment and delivery partnership in Australia's history”.

The project would be funded partly through a ‘City Deal’ – a model in which federal, state and local governments sign long-term contracts to deliver major infrastructure projects, while setting targets for job creation, housing construction, emissions reductions and other economic measures.

But how will governments ensure this project is sustainable?

Each of the 16 buildings at Hudson Yards, plus the precinct itself, will achieve ratings under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, so every stakeholder – from politicians and policy makers through to residents and retail workers – know that their community has been built with sustainability in mind.

In Australia, the Green Star – Communities rating tool is already influencing the design and delivery of more than 50 projects on the scale of Hudson Yards. The Fishermans Bend urban renewal project in Melbourne will deliver homes for 80,000 people, while Barangaroo South in Sydney will attract 23,000 office workers each day.

By using Green Star – Communities as a guide, we get a guarantee that our new ‘cities within cities’ – whether they are at Badgery’s Creek or elsewhere – are places that will meet our needs not just during the next election cycle, but for decades to come.

Download the GBCA’s five-point plan for sustainable buildings, communities and cities.