The southern Australian city of Melbourne is home to 4 million people. The city has long been a leader in sustainability in Australia and around the world. Australia’s first 6-star green star-rated building was constructed in Melbourne and has become a design basis for many other new buildings around the city and around the country.


The video below was created in 2012 and shows all the plans that Melbourne had to become a sustainable city. Tackling waste, reducing the amount of energy used by residents, and becoming a greener city were all key in their plans, and they have been very successful so far in making the city more sustainable.

Looking to the future, Melbourne has set itself a number of goals to achieve greater sustainability between 2017 and 2021. Some of these goals include:

  • Positive adaptation to climate change
  • Resource efficiency
  • Meeting its pledge to deliver the limit to global temperature rise set out in the Paris Agreement

To achieve these goals, Melbourne has implemented many key programs and actions and a number of indicators they can use to measure their success. Programs like their water management scheme, urban forest strategy, and zero net emissions all aim to make Melbourne even more sustainable over the next few years.

Water Management Scheme

A-Level Geography taught me that Melbourne and areas of South Australia and Victoria are areas of great water stress. Inconsistent rainfall patterns have meant that rainwater cannot be relied upon to meet the demand of the city’s growing population.

Under the ‘Total Watermark: City as a Catchment’ Strategy, Melbourne aims to reduce water consumption, particularly in buildings, and use water more efficiently. It also aims to manage more intense rainfalls that are predicted in the near future and reduce the flood risk with greater tree and green area coverage.

On-ground works

Urban Forest Strategy

For those who read my blog post from yesterday (Why Megacities Need to Plant More Trees), increasing the amount of urban forestry within our cities is vital for a great number of reasons. If you didn’t, here is a quick recap of what urban forests can do for a sustainable city:

  • Provide natural cooling for cities in a world that is getting warmer
  • Provide habitats for nature and encourage healthier ecosystems
  • Intercept rainfall and absorb much more water, reducing the risk of flooding

Currently, 22% of Melbourne is covered by urban forest, but the city wants to double that by 2040, and this will have huge benefits in a number of ways, including adapting to climate change. As rainfalls in this southern region of Australia are becoming increasingly inconsistent, having the ability to naturally intercept and store rainwater that would otherwise run off into the river.


There are also a number of economic savings to be had by increasing the number of trees at street level. Tree canopy coverage reduces the heat island effect that is affecting a number of Australian cities in the ever-warming summer months. Trees provide a relatively cheap form of shade for streets and buildings


A visualisation of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy


Zero Net Emissions

By 2020, Melbourne hopes to be a carbon-neutral city, meaning that the city will not emit more than it can absorb/sequester. The city plans to increase the share of renewables used in the energy supply to 45% whilst also reducing emissions from non-renewables by 50%.

The City of Melbourne is also improving the design of its new buildings as well as retrofitting older buildings under their ‘1200 Buildings’ Scheme. This scheme alone would contribute hugely to its goal of zero net emissions, just by making many of the buildings in Melbourne more energy efficient.


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