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Urban Ecology Australia is a non-profit organisation and we very much appreciate donations to enable our work to continue. Donations are deductible for income tax purposes.

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  • Make it out to ‘Urban Ecology Australia’
  • Mail it to Urban Ecology Australia, 105 Sturt Street, Adelaide, SA 5000.

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Support effective activism towards ecological cities

In the age of Climate Emergency, our cities are no longer fit for purpose. Cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and emit more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions.

But cities are a huge opportunity too; they are constantly in redevelopment.

The city can save the planet if the transformation is towards ecological cities.

For thirty years Urban Ecology Australia has been an ecocity pioneer, locally and globally. Tertiary institutions in Australia and around the world now offer courses in Urban Ecology and international conferences on ecological cities have proliferated.

At Ecocity2019 in Vancouver, our co-founder Dr Paul Downton was a celebrated opening day keynote speaker.

Proving the theory with action

But our crowning achievement has been much more than academic: we’ve built a model ecocity development, Christie Walk. Our site tours have provided thousands of visitors with a fresh vision and practical ideas of how to build ecological cities.

Achievements in emissions reduction

From the founding of Urban Ecology Australia in 1991 till the commencement of construction of Christie Walk in 1999, a massive volunteer effort went into researching the most effective elements of ecological design that would be incorporated into our model ecocity development.

The outcome was an astonishing success.

When Christie Walk conducted a carbon inventory, the audit found that our emissions in 2017 were 1.2tCO2-e per person. That’s remarkably low compared with the average per capita footprint for Australia of 17 tonnes.

Nevertheless we embarked on an ambitious program to cut our emissions even more.

By 2021 we have reduced our already-low emissions by 64%. Technology upgrades have reduced our annual electricity imports by 45,000kWh (80% down from a total of 56,000kWh purchased in 2017).

Along the way we’ve carefully documented lessons learnt, so that others can learn from our experience.

Enthusiasm for composting, recycling and reuse enables us to have a vastly reduced number of bins (70% less) with minimal waste going to landfill.

We reuse rainwater too in our large underground storage tanks (60,000 litre capacity). We pump from there to flush toilets and irrigate the gardens.

Leadership and influence

Since the inception of Urban Ecology Australia, outreach and community involvement has been central. By 1995 a team of 100 volunteers had contributed an estimated $2million worth of time in research and planning for the implementation of the Ecopolis Development Principles, which are at the centre of ecocity theory and practice. A large contingent of local and international interns also spent time immersed with UEA, so there are now a significant number of professionals around Australia and globally who are well-versed in ecocity principles.

But the goal was always to put the theory into practice, leading to Christie Walk being built in Sturt Street, Adelaide, as a model ecocity development. Construction was completed in 2006. Since then thousands of people have visited on guided site tours, providing them with inspiration and ideas for moving towards carbon neutral living.

But UEA’s influence has been global as well as local. Founding architect Dr Paul Downton has been interviewed for a wide range of media outlets, and he has been a keynote speaker for many urban planning conferences around Australia and internationally, advocating for ecological cities.

Dr Downton’s awards include Australian National Winner of Energy Globe Award 2009 for Christie Walk EcoCity Project, finalist for the World Habitat Award in 2005, Silver Prize winner of the 2006 Ryutaro Hashimoto APFED Awards and 2013 winner of the Tehran International Award.

Dr Downton has consulted to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, been a Board Member of IntEcopolis, Stewardship Council Member of International Ecocity Framework & Standards, Advisor to the Zhuhai Municipal People’s Government in China, member of the Urban Biosphere Initiative (URBIS) Advisory Board and a Katerva Expert Panel Member.

UEA’s Christie Walk development is widely published as an exemplar of sustainable urbanism. Dr Downton’s magnum opus Ecopolis: Architecture and Cities for a Changing Climate (published internationally by Springer) draws heavily on the vision and lessons learned through UEA.