Our research

The world’s problems of increasing emissions, resource depletion, waste and unsustainable consumption are global in nature and cut across all academic disciplines. Consequently, our research projects are collaborative and multi-disciplinary, involving researchers from many different disciplines, including architecture, design and engineering, environmental science, education, history, planning and psychology.

Our research efforts are in two main areas:

  1. Engaging communities to generate behaviour change, reduce waste and resource and energy use, using social science and behavioural methods to lay the foundations for more sustainable consumption practices, and
  2. Material and scientific interventions, including the use of technical assessments and evaluative tools, to reduce material flows and waste, and create more sustainable cities, including improved infrastructures, technologies, precincts and buildings.

Key research priorities

1. Engaging Communities to generate Sustainable Consumption, Reduced Waste and Changed Behaviour

We are interested in encouraging pro-environmental behaviour and waste reduction across communities, institutions and industries. We are exploring the role of values and social innovation to change behaviour and develop more sustainable consumption practices across different groups and in different settings.

2. Developing Zero Waste Cities, Sustainable Urban Infrastructures and Supporting Systems

We are researching low carbon living and innovative buildings and precinct design in the urban environment, including science-based adaptation strategies to reduce material flows, and incorporating renewable energy systems and services. We are investigating urban micro-climates and developing predictive tools for the design of sustainable, zero waste cities and more resilient urban communities.

Major Research Projects

New Project: CRC Project (RP 3017), Adelaide Living Laboratories Hub – ‘Co-Creation Methodologies and Toolkit’
Task / Project Leaders: Dr Robert Crocker, Dr Jane Andrew and Mr Phil Donaldson

A ‘Living Lab’ is a designated experimental and test environment where users, designers and producers can co-create innovations towards the sustainability goals of zero carbon living. The project will engage trans-disciplinary teams through a co-creation/design thinking process to inform and support innovation in product development for the building industry, through the design and implementation of optimum standards in infrastructure, built form and service delivery. Particular attention will be paid to consumer incentives, communication tools, and community engagement models that promote and enable Low Carbon Living. This project, designated the Co-creation Task, the first of four, will aim to inform new market and product opportunities, engage and build new communities to encourage behaviour change, and evaluate and address broader cultural, physical, economic and social contexts and impacts. It will also provide live training sites for industry and students to prototype and test new materials, systems and processes towards reducing GGE, and to develop green construction skills and training modules. In this way the project aims to establish national and international benchmarks for future low carbon communities. The project will be launched in November 2014 and will be led by the Acting Director with Dr Jane Andrew from Match Studio, and begin with a preliminary project identifying a ‘Co-Creation Toolkit’ (employing a Research Associate), and this will be followed in 2015-2017 with a PhD project that will complete the Task.

Tonsley Zero Waste

Tonsley is the final and most significant of the three Living Lab sites. It a partnership project between the Department of State Development and Renewal SA. The project represents a significant investment by the Government of South Australia in the regional and state economy, and an investment of more than $253 million in a project that will integrate industry, education, training, research, residential living and community. It is forecast to attract more than $1 billion in private investment. Image courtesy of Renewal SA.

CRC project (RP2005) 'Urban Micro Climates: Comparative Study of Major Contributors to the Urban Heat Island in three Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide'

Project Leader Professor John Boland

Coordinator Dr Conrad H. Philipp

The CRC project (RP2005) 'Urban Micro Climates: Comparative Study of Major Contributors to the Urban Heat Island in three Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide)' supports end user-driven research collaborations to address the major challenge of climate change facing Australia. Our researchers are dedicated to integrated building systems and engaged communities. This three-year long program (2013-2016) brings together the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and the University of South Australia and eight industry/government partners to conduct research through 5 PhDs aimed at identifying evidence-based urban strategies for decision makers and policy formulation to reduce heat stress in three Australian cities.

UCR Urban Map

Urban Climates Research LogoRead more about our Urban Climate Research project at the Low Carbon Living CRC

Urban heat investigation in China: comparative study of Tianjin, Shenzhen and Hong Kong in Cooperation with the China-Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development (CAC_SUD)

Project leader Dr Conrad H. Philipp

The research project will investigate the urban heat impact under compliance of the urban sprawl for three different Chinese cities located in different climate zones. This project is one of the selected research projects of the China-Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development (CAC_SUD).

Our PhD Research

Zero Waste Our PhD Research Group Shot

Education and Research Partnerships

The sd+b Centre welcomes partnerships with government and industry, in education, training or collaborative and applied research projects. Being keenly interested in the application of research, we greatly encourage collaboration and partnerships with industry, civic institutions and other research bodies. The Centre maintains productive collaborative relationships with the Barbara Hardy Institute, the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, and the Hawke Research Institute.

The Centre’s research staff and most of its PhD students are also involved in the University of South Australia’s DESIS Lab, the South Australian branch of an international association of Design Educators and Researchers in Sustainable Design and Social Innovation. The association includes some of the world’s best design schools in this field, and greatly enriches the Centre’s collaborative research capabilities.

We are always open to new ideas and the possibility of new collaborative research or consultancy ventures. Future collaborators are welcome to contact us at any time

Areas of study and research

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