Changing Sky Lines


The average person in our major cities rarely looks up thanks to the all the distractions at street level. For those that do, however, it’s no secret that the sky lines of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are dominated by cranes.

Over the last 5 years Australia’s three biggest cities have attracted more interstate and overseas migration, maintaining the East Coasts mantle as Australia’s growth corridor. Melbourne was the fastest growing at 2.4% in the year 2015-2016. Sydney and Brisbane registered slightly slower growth at 1.7% and 1.8% respectively.

The landscape of each city is set to change dramatically over the next 20 – 30 years, with some huge projects already underway and others in the pipeline.

Brissie is set to hit a population of 2.5 million by June of this year and 4 million in 30 years time. The North Shore, Brisbane Live and Brisbane Quarter developments will cater to the demand and facilitate growth in this city.

The North shore which is currently home to 2,000 residents will house 15,000 by 2025 and open space for up to 16,000 jobs. Further, the Brisbane quarter will consist of an 82 storey residential tower, a 39 storey office building and a 32 storey W Brisbane Hotel.

The country’s largest city will undergo major development works such as those planned for Barangaroo. Construction on this site will eventually cater for up to 23,000 workers and 3,500 residents. Barangaroo South has been designed to be a financial services hub that is an extension of the city centre.

The Central Park, Waterloo precinct and Southern employment lands will also undergo extensive development to address the need for affordable housing.

Australia’s fastest growing capital city is forecast to reach a population of 6 million by 2031.
Demand for student and family housing is driving construction, with more than 30,000 international students living in the city.

Similarly, the appetite for more office space has increased, in the first four months of 2017 alone there was fifteen times more working space constructed than in the whole previous year.

The Southbank and Docklands precincts will continue to expand, with the Fisherman’s Bend and Arden-Macaulay developments to accommodate demand for office and retail space. Planning for Arden – Macaulay is still underway with the Victorian Government envisioning that the precinct will be a base for 34,000 jobs and 15,000 residents by 2051.

Combined these developments will add close to 650 hectares of working and living space.

Two more recent additions to the planning pipeline are the Melbourne Council’s $450 million Queen Vic Market project, which includes an 80-room hotel and 38 storey residential tower and development giant Grocon’s plans to build a 330-metre skyscraper on one of the city’s smallest lots. Called the “Magic Building”, it will eclipse the Q1 and Eureka tower to become Australia’s tallest.

Each of our three largest cities will prosper from the economic benefits and flow on effects that construction works afford. But, will the human impact resulting from more buildings and increased density be something we can sustain?

In 2016 the City of Sydney looked into answering this question. Commissioning an energy consultancy firm for a study which included 2 actual apartment buildings in Sydney (30 – storey) and in Melbourne (60 – storey). The study found that net-zero residential buildings in Australia are technically feasible and highly cost effective.

For a building to be “net zero”, delivered energy must be less than or equal to on-site renewable exported energy. Meaning, the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site.

The study found that the cost-premium of constructing a net zero building is 7-8% above those that strictly meet the current code but could be less.

In October of 2017, the Australian Government launched the new National Carbon Offset Standards (NCOS) for buildings and precincts. These standards are in line with the principles found in the World GBC’s Advancing Net Zero Project and empower owners of already established buildings and those under construction to compare their efforts with today’s best practice in emissions reduction. To meet the standards each building in question must reduce their emissions output and purchase carbon credits or carbon offsets to achieve a net zero carbon rating.

In the time since the new standards were announced, the international green building materials market has exploded and under estimates from April of this year is expected to total $377 Billion in value by 2022. The growth of this industry will reduce the cost-premium of 7-8% we see today and is in part thanks to some Aussie inventions such as geopolymer concrete, green steel and Hickory building systems, which have catalysed much of the projected growth.

Whilst the general consensus in both Australia’s and worlds building sectors is a target of 100% net zero carbon by 2050, a lot more needs to be done. The technology to create increasingly productive and healthier cities exists today and can save $20 Billion for Australia, while simultaneously raising the nation’s standing in the worldwide green building market. A market which will reward those who pave the way for others and Australia, a current hub of construction is ideally placed to take on this role and reap the long-term benefits.

If you wish to learn more about the Advancing Net Zero Project, please click here.



Written by Alana Denham-Preston

Contact the Future Business Council for quotes or further information. 

Future Business Council
490 Spencer Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
p (03) 8327 8427