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comment By Abigail Evans, Executive Transport Planner Meinhardt

Are car free housing developments as sustainable as they sound? In urban areas there is a rise in ‘green’ residential buildings, and emerging is the ‘car-free housing’ concept. Car- free housing is exactly as you would expect; a residential development (usually apartments in dense urban areas) with no parking provided for cars. It is fundamentally a home for people who do not own a car and in some cases a legal contract has to be signed to say that they never will while residing in said development. However, as a Transport Planner my professional leans me into developing strategies to provide alternative means of travel for people other than the car, rather than actually deterring car ownership. While I totally agree that travel by non motorised or public transport is far more efficient and sustainable than travel by car (when taking into account fuel emissions and construction of roads etc), with the increasing availability of low emission and electric vehicles, why is owning a car so unsustainable? The majority of people want to own a car for personal freedom and leisure and may for example commute everyday to work by tram or cycle. A far more efficient use of space within a building could be to enable car parking spaces to be rented out or sold separately to the apartment itself so that people who wish not to own a car do not have a wasted parking space. A ratio of 1 parking space for every 2 to 4 apartments could well achieve maximising efficiency of parking areas while maintaining attractiveness of the development to potential buyers. By encouraging too many car-free housing projects there could be an increase in the demand for on street parking and a high turnover of occupancy as people’s choice to own a car changes (especially with the rise in low carbon vehicles).

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CHALLENGES AS COMPLEX AS A CORAL REEF Engineering is going to new places in Far North Queensland, in the design of the laboratory and services systems for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) new National Sea Simulator Project at Cape Ferguson, south of Townsville. Meinhardt’s Brisbane Office won the commission to provide building and process laboratory services in association with Oceanis International. The new research facility, funded by the Australian Government’s Marine and Climate Super Science Initiative, will extend Australian scientists ability to simulate different seawater conditions and assist in areas such as extending global understanding of the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, supporting Australia’s marine industries and the management of its tropical marine ecosystems. “The National Sea Simulator will be world class in its complexity and capacity for extremely close simultaneous control of multiple parameters in seawater and life support systems in numerous experimental scenarios. A significant part of our commission included participation in the development of various laboratory arrangements, in conjunction with AIMS’s scientists, as detailed systems and controls design proceeded,” said Nick Bamber, State Manager for Meinhardt QLD. There are a multitude of challenges to resolve, from construction issues and site topography through to the intricacies of providing the required research conditions into the future. Oceanis, specialist engineers experienced in marine water systems and marine life support systems, are responsible for designing the primary seawater systems and adapting or inventing appropriate technologies for the laboratories. “Our client (AIMS) is wishing to push the state of the art in terms of technologies,” said Oceanis’ Project Director, Ken Shular. “There are many aspects to the project which are unusual in a research facility setting: membrane filtration of seawater; salinity correction, ultra high accuracy temperature control; sediment delivery methods are some of the examples. “The combination of these methodologies have never been applied in this context before. Some of the technology is existing, some of it breaks new ground and some of it involves importing technology from other industries. “The membrane filtration technology is coming via the desalination industry, except in this case instead of creating fresh water we are needing to correct

the salinity of seawater. During the wet season, fresh water run-off dilutes the saline levels at the site of the sea water intake for the laboratories, so we are using reverse osmosis technology to remove fresh water to concentrate the salt, a reverse of the usual process.” Water conditions at the intake, which is close to shore, are vastly different from those out on the Barrier reef and the facility needs to provide both so that a wide variety of experiments can be undertaken. The in-shore water is highly variable in quality, with higher sediment and nutrient levels and salinity levels that fluctuate greatly due to seasonal run off. Oceanis and Meinhardt need to ensure a stable, reliable supply of high quality sea water which replicates reef conditions for the experiments to take place. Oceanis has designed a series of stages of filtration which ensures the water will be clean enough and without variations which may affect the validity of the science. “We have been examining this technology for other uses, such as marine parks, zoos and aquariums and aquatic centres. Membrane filtration technology can also change how institutions clean up their water, such as with a current Saudi Arabian project we are working on,” said Ken. Oceanis are also managing the monitoring and control system design and engineering with a sub-contractor. The AIMS project involves a significant share of budget dedicated to these aspects of the facility, with multiple parameters requiring extensive automated controls. The project aims to leverage industrial controls technology to not only run the “behind the scenes” water filtration and management systems, but also to facilitate the experiments though controlling aspects such as highly accurate seawater temperature adjustments, managing sophisticated lighting systems, controlling water pH levels and controlling levels of contaminates. In some experiments thirty or more unique seawater conditions may need to Meinhardt won the commission to design the laboratory and services systems for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

The Australian National Construction Review  

The Australian National Construction Review

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