A new Centre for Sustainable Cities is being launched at the University of Otago, Wellington bringing together experts from New Zealand and overseas on making our cities more sustainable.
The Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Hon David Parker, will launch the Centre at 4.50pm on Tuesday February 26. This follows an all day seminar featuring expert presenters from the USA, local government, universities and Crown Research Institutes.
"The aim of the seminar is to focus on what this new and unique centre in New Zealand can provide to enhance the sustainability of our cities," says Director Philippa Howden-Chapman.
"There's been a lack of integrated solutions to some of the problems and challenges being presented by our rapidly growing urban environments in the 21st century. Auckland is a prime example, with its rapidly growing transport sector emissions, even though some good measures, such as the North Shore bus lane, have been developed."
Professor Howden-Chapman says nearly 90% of New Zealanders now live in an urban environment, and it's vital there is robust, evidence-based information that supports local and central government in developing policies on sustainability.
"This means drawing together research from areas such as social sciences, epidemiology, environmental economics, engineering, energy research, physics and policy studies, so the best decisions can be made on the future of our cities."
The new Centre for Sustainable Cities will provide practical solutions to urban problems in New Zealand. The Researchers in the Centre are already working to develop tools for councils that will enhance sustainability. A good example is the 'Health effects of Leaky buildings' workshop which is being held in Wellington and Auckland in conjunction with City Councils. (See: Leaky buildings: what do we know about the health effects?)
"Staff of the Centre have already established strong links with local and central government, business and community groups through the internationally recognised He Oranga Kainga/Healthy Housing Research Programme at the University of Otago, Wellington," says Professor Howden-Chapman, "and we will be building on that trust and expertise."