Our research is helping address the UN’s global sustainable development goals and solve challenges posed by climate change, resource depletion and other issues, to create a net-zero emissions and zero-waste future.
This research integrates a variety of ecological, economic, social and cultural perspectives. It is primarily led by experts from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), with the support of the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre.
A new range of novel building materials will help shape the next generation of homes and roads, such as hybrid ‘green’ composites and biocement. And with many homes in Australia designed for just a 30-year life span, we’re exploring the concept of modular living, where different types of building materials are reduced, reused and recycled instead of going to landfill.
We’re exploring how the housing industry and government policy-makers can build a sustainable future where all Australians are appropriately housed.
Researchers from the Faculty of Business and Law, together with the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, are conducting policy-informing research that is increasing affordable housing supply for low-income earners, housing options for young and old Australians, and secure housing options in the private rental market.
Concrete is the foundation of modern development and the most widely consumed substance on Earth, after water. But one of its drawbacks is its propensity to crack and buckle, which limits its longevity. Now, our scientists are developing a sustainable, self-healing biocement using natural microbes to strengthen concrete.
Together with water capsules, the microbes produce calcite which fill damaged areas of the concrete. The very low viscosity solution has the ability to get inside deep cracks where ordinary cements don’t work. Another major benefit is its sustainability. Farmed at low energy inputs and at ambient room temperature, all the materials are non-toxic, carbon neutral and renewable.
Scientists expect the biocement will substantially extend the life-span of concrete structures including houses, and could also be used in many other applications from stabilising roads to preventing beach erosion.
At CUSP, we’re developing business models and policies that will help cities reduce urban sprawl, decarbonise development and emphasise biophilic urbanism. Our experts have been involved in several large-scale transformation projects, including Climate-KIC’s mission to create 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030.
New technologies are presenting exciting advancements. We are identifying how trackless tram networks can unlock urban development and help urban centres become more people oriented. We are also using AI and Blockchain to improve the flow of urban traffic by predicting traffic management and discouraging congestion in busy areas.
We’re drawing upon the collective intelligence and power of the public to help create new sustainable ideas and encouraging individuals to act more sustainably for the benefit of all.
Through innovative marketing tools such as ASMR, our experts in CUSP are encouraging young people to display pro-environmental behaviours and be more proactive about tackling climate change challenges.
The broader CUSP community has also taken part in participatory sustainability. A CUSP alumnus launched ClimateClever Homes – an app that can measure, monitor and suggest improvements for household energy and water consumption, to both save household finances and lessen the impact of climate change.
Construction and demolition waste currently contributes to at least 40 per cent of Australia’s landfill. With many homes in Australia designed for just a 30-year life span, we must rethink the future of housing if we want to reduce our resources waste and live in homes that last.
Curtin is working with the building industry and other developers to design innovative, modular houses that can be easily dissembled and transported with minimal waste, reuse materials and components, and take waste and use it as a new resource.
Opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing and batteries for energy storage are widening the scope of these benefits, and helping to create near-zero carbon neighbourhoods. Our most successful project, White Gum Valley, was the first neighbourhood in WA and the 11th in the world to be internationally recognised as a One Planet Community through the One Planet Living framework.
Curtin is also a joint partner in the Australasian Joint Research Centre for Building Information Modelling. The centre integrates building information modelling with other concepts and technologies to help create site plans that optimise resource allocation, safety and productivity before construction.
We’re working to lessen the environmental impact of meat production, including greenhouse gas emissions, and land and water degradation caused by livestock.
CUSP research is identifying the nutritional and environmental benefits of plant-based foods to help encourage sustainable food consumption among policy-makers, health professionals and the general population. Our publications include the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards—winning book: Environmental, Health, and Business Opportunities in the New Meat Alternatives Market.
There is a growing push away from fast fashion towards encouraging garment recycling and making garments more durable.
Researchers from our School of Design and the Built Environment are involved in an ongoing set of collaborations with sustainably focused companies such as Redress.
Curtin students and graduates are also helping to create a more sustainably focused future. Two of our graduates established Fibre Economy, a recycling enterprise that redistributes second-hand workwear from mine sites to charities.
Curtin is a key partner in the Pacific Livelihoods Research Group, which is seeking to understand and enhance the livelihoods of people in the Pacific, particularly those from Papua New Guinea, as they grapple with the challenges of globalisation, modernity and resource allocation. The research is strongly participatory and usually involves extended fieldwork with the community.
There are five themes: Cash Crops and Markets, Food Insecurity, Indigenous and Moral Economies, Gendered Lives, and Land, Labour and Mobility.
Professor Peter Newman
Sustainable Cities, Urban Regeneration, Transport and Land Use
Professor Dora Marinova
Green Innovation Systems, Sustainometrics, Flexitarianism
Professor Steven Rowley
Housing Affordability, Housing Supply, Development Feasibility
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