Centre for Urban Transitions

Past projects

Assessing the impact of solar PV on domestic electricity consumption in Sydney

This nine-month project (2016) identified whether conservation or rebound effects are associated with solar PV take–up by examining the changes in electricity use between 2008 and 2012 by Sydney households who installed PV compared to those that did not.

This project was funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRC LCL RP2016). 

The research analysed Ausgrid data for 5000 households in order to develop and test an econometric model capable of estimating the level of additional electricity consumption households with installed PV consumed compared to those without PV.

The Swinburne research team comprised Dr Gary Deng and Professor Peter Newton.


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Retrofitting Urban Precincts to Create Low Carbon Communities

This project aimed to overcome barriers and develop opportunities for precinct building owners and energy and water utilities to transition to low carbon decentralised energy and water infrastructures using Broadway, Sydney CBD as a living laboratory. It attempts a socio–technical transition involving multiple stakeholders.

This two-year project (2014–2016) was funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living  (CRC RP2018) and involved researchers from AECOM, Flow Systems and Swinburne University Centre for Urban Transitions.

The research project aimed to provide knowledge to bring lower carbon, energy and water solutions to communities in Australia’s cities. The project specifically aimed to identify and understand the economic, stakeholder, regulatory and technical barriers to transitioning existing communities to low carbon energy and water solutions and devise viable pathways for stakeholders to successfully transition. The research sought to empower stakeholders within communities to drive transitions to low carbon energy and water use, by providing them with the data and processes they need for change. These transitions have not been successful to date, and research is urgently needed to improve our knowledge and enable the delivery of precinct efficiencies with infrastructure. The CRC Low Carbon Living aims to begin this international journey by examining Sydney’s Broadway Precinct. This research seeks to identify the opportunities and blockages in such transitions through a living laboratory approach (using Broadway precinct in Sydney) and then identifying widely applicable typologies that may enable such a transition to be applied to any precinct.

The research team comprised Professor Peter Newton, Roger Swinbourne (AECOM, Project Leader), Dan Hilson (Flow Systems).


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Consuming the Urban Environment: A Study of the Factors that Influence Resource Use in Australian Cities

This three year project (2009–2012) examined to understand the factors contributing to the contemporary pattern of escalating urban consumption in Australia.

This project was funded by the Australian Research Council as a Discovery Project.

This project was the first study which aimed to quantify how much of Australia’s total consumption is designed into our cities and housing and how much is related to an individual’s discretionary behaviour and the sets of attitudes and values that drive it. Based on an extensive sample survey of Melbourne households, multi–level modelling was used to apportion total consumption (energy, water, urban travel, housing space, domestic appliances) across individual and household (eg lifestyle, socio–economic position) versus contextual factors (eg dwelling, urban location, technology etc).

The Swinburne team comprised Professor Peter Newton (Project Leader), Professor Terry Burke and Professor Denny Meyer and Associate Professor Maryann Wulff (formerly Swinburne and Monash universities)


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Green Shoots? Exploring the Genesis and Development of a Green Economy in Australia

This project examined the manner and rate at which a green economy is emerging in Australia in order to identify strategies that will best facilitate the adoption of sustainable technologies and practices.

This three-year project (2012–2015) was funded by the Australian Research Council as a Discovery Project and involved researchers from Swinburne and Curtin Universities.

The research objectives involved examining:

  • The strength of the innovative base in green technology in Australia as a platform for the growth of a green economy. Is there a critical mass of enabling S&T apparent? In which industries and sectors? Is there an obvious technology roadmap?
  • The geography of the green economy. Each previous techno–economic transition saw fundamental changes to urban structure (Brotchie et al., 1987; Newman et al., 2009); How are the new green industries and jobs best classified? What transformations in locations of jobs and industries are likely to characterise a green economy? How will the empirical information to emerge from this study stimulate thinking around a theory of industry location and patterns of investment within a green economy?
  • The process of greening organisations across key sectors of Australian industry; understanding the engines of the green economy at firm and sectoral level. Where are the green industries? What are the barriers to transition? What is the size and significance of the green economy to the nation? How green is the supply chain for each industry cluster? What are the principal sources of ‘green’ investment for each industry?

The project involved a collaboration with Professor Peter Newton (Project Leader) and Professor Peter Newman from Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute.


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Towards a new development model for housing regeneration in greyfield residential precincts

The project investigated the processes required to create an effective development model capable of delivering more affordable and sustainable medium–density housing through the regeneration of greyfield precincts in Australia’s capital cities, with a particular focus on Melbourne. It targeted the middle suburbs as the key areas of investigation for new urban infill policy.

This two–year project (2010–2011) was funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and involved researchers from Swinburne, Monash and RMIT Universities.

It involved investigative panels as well as related research to pioneer a transitions management model that embodied:

  • Investigative Panel 1–Exploring Why? Where? Who? How?
  • Investigative Panel 2–Design, construction and viability
  • Investigative Panel 3–Community, finance and governance
  • Investigative Panel 4–Mapping a new precinct development model

The Swinburne research team comprised Professor Peter Newton (Project Leader).

Research collaboration: Professor Shane Murray (Monash University) and Professor Ron Wakefield (RMIT).


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Performance Assessment of Urban Precinct Design: A Scoping Study

The project addressed the fragmented approach to precinct design assessment by undertaking an extensive review of the state of existing methods and tools and proceeding to develop a detailed functional specification for precinct design and assessment tools and databases that could be used as a blueprint by the CRC for Low Carbon Living’s Program 2: Low Carbon Precincts.

The 18 month project (2012–2013) was funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRC LCL RP2001) and involved researchers from Swinburne University and the UNSW.

The scope of research included:

  • Literature review of national and international precinct assessment methods and tools
  • Review and comparison of national and international LCA and costing principles, methods and databases
  • Developing a functional specification for precinct design and assesment methods and software tools

The Swinburne research team included Professor Peter Newton (Project Leader).

Research collaboration: David Marchant, John Mitchell and Jim Plume (all of University of NSW), Seongwon Seo (CSIRO) and Rob Roggema (consultant).


Professor Peter Newton
t: +61 3 9214 4769
e: pnewton@swin.edu.au

Low Carbon Built Environment Knowledge Hub Project

This project has delivered an online knowledge hub to share authoritative, concise and accessible information about low-carbon living (LCL) in the built environment.

The project has:

  • aligned existing Australian and international LCL resources for industry practitioners, policymakers, researchers and the public
  • formed an evidence base for policymakers and practitioners who are promoting low-carbon living
  • provided a collaborative research platform for the CRC Nodes of Excellence, other universities, industry partners and government agencies
  • provided an ongoing legacy of the CRC for Low-Carbon Living

The BuiltBetter.org solution is online and available for you to use. To include your content, please contact us to assist.

If you would like to be involved in the project or find out more, don’t hesitate to contact the project manager.


Michelle Zwagerman, Project Manager
t: +61 3 9214 5739
e: mzwagerman@swin.edu.au 

Project leads

Dr Peter Graham
t: +61 3 9214 3801
e: pmgraham@swin.edu.au

Amanda Lawrence
t: +61 3 9214 8792
e: alawrence@swin.edu.au