Developers paying for rezoning – per block…

It seems that money hungry councils are popping up all over Australia, finding new and exciting ways to line their coffers. AdelaideNow... $15,000 bill for land buyers:

MT BARKER Council will force housing developers to pay up to $15,000 a block to rezone land, with the cost passed on to buyers already facing an affordability crisis. In a first for South Australia, the fee would pay for capital works and services across the council area. Developers now pay for infrastructure including roads, stormwater and sewage pipes only on the estates they develop. The council said it may not rezone any more land for housing if developers refused to pay.

Massive NSW water recycling plant opens

Today the NSW premier opened an effluent recycling facility south of Sydney which will provide up to seven billion litres of water a year to a local steel processing plant. That's the equivalent of over 30,000 houses worth of potable water that is being preserved for alternate use.

But the story isn't without a bit of drama, (it wouldn't have made the news otherwise!)...

Rainfall Misses Sydney’s Catchment… Again

I can vouch for this one, and for the storms that followed on Friday night and Saturday, Warragamba's catchment missed all the action.

A strategy to to hold water | Science & nature | The Australian:

IN the small hours of Thursday morning an intense band of rain cloud scythed its way up the NSW coastline, dumping 107mm of water on Sydney. The Bureau of Meteorology radar screen danced red, yellow and green as the torrent carved a 123-year September record.

Nearby, Sydney's biggest catchment, which feeds the Warragamba Dam, sat on the storm's edge like a shy child at a birthday party. It got a bit wet (15mm) but again missed out on most of the fun.

The Fifty Dollar House

Today we made the second step in our commitment to building our first earth covered home. The first was a couple of years ago when we purchased the Australian Earth Covered Buildings book by Sydney Baggs, which after reading much US and European information on the web, gave an excellent Australian perspective of the types and forms of construction, and from their experience as Australia's preeminent earth covered homes architects, give a great insight into the technology and its benefits in the Australian Climate. I would provide a link to Amazon, but when there is one available at $150 US, I think the provided link to the author's website will set you in better stead.

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Today we purchased another book, this time The $50 & Up Underground House by Mike Oehler which gets great reviews. We'll blog a review of the book as we work through it, and probably provide some online sketches as our design ideas develop.

Green Roofs and Walls

Here are some recent developments in the "green roof" industry. Out of all the solutions presented for environmental improvements in the urban area, I think green roofs are one of the best from a technical results perspective, right through to how they look. The first development here is actually a green wall rather than a roof, you can read the press release here, it has all the technical and company details.

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Also recently in the news is the Toyota green roof product, even the Discovery Channel had a feature on it...

Summer may be coming to an end, but there may still be time for home renovations - starting with a little bit of grass on your roof
Researchers from Toyota Roof Garden in Japan are now taking orders for grass tiles, called the TM9 turf mats, to help reduce urban heat island effects and cool down metropolitan areas.

Has Toyota realised that people want to buy from a company that supports environmental objectives, or do they realise that the age of the petrol driven car is coming to an end? Either way, the diversification is a good thing.

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First Flush Devices for Industrial Sites

ffwd_diagram_1.JPGIn the world of roof-water collection, first flush devices are about as technical as it gets from a collection cleaning or filtration perspective. Roofs are a good source of relatively clean, free water, generally suitable for outdoor use or for indoor use such as toilet flushing. However as with any surface, roofs and gutters accumulate debris ranging from leaves and dust through to bird droppings. Storing these contaminants within a rainwater tank can produce nasty odours and may require extensive cleaning of the tank after a period of time.

Meet Mike, the Semi-Nomadic Engineer

I love working remotely, whether for work, blogging or preparing a talk, nothing beats sitting at a coffee shop sipping a freshly made coffee. With wireless technology I can do pretty much everything I would in the office or at home while I'm out and about. I can make or receive calls on my mobile or on Skype, I can check my emails, I can design subdivisions in 12D, I can project manage jobs, review drawings, prepare presentations and talks and manage the workflow of my team.

Engineering wirelessly cafe computer design laptop manageGenerally I find that my clarity of thought is improved in a neutral space such as a coffee shop, away from the office where everyone else's work is competing for your attention. Being at my desk forces me to deal with (or at least acknowledge), other peoples issues as they bring them to me, whether urgent or not. This breaks concentration and workflow significantly, I've turned off all incoming mail notifications on my office computer for that very reason, if it were time critical they would have called me.

Some would say that a coffee shop is no better, there are noises, staff and people talking, and you can't just get up and leave your stuff to go to the toilet or for a walk. But consistently, I've noticed increased productivity on certain tasks outside of the office.

I'm not alone in this, there are a growing army of Bedouin workers, freed from the need for a cubical space to call their own. In fact I recently stumbled across a great new blog aimed at helping people make this transition or improve their experience, through products, techniques and tips....