Liveable Cities: Building Cooler Suburbs

This campaign calls for better building regulations to make sure buildings are safe to live in in a warming climate, and help to reach net-zero emissions
To improve building regulation so buildings are safe to live in in a warming climate, and help to reach net-zero emissions


Liveable cities

Let’s build cooler suburbs

Heatwaves are our deadliest environmental disaster. Yet we’re still building dangerously hot homes and infrastructure that will buckle during heatwaves.

Our planning regulations don’t take into account the environmental, health or social costs of building. Our campaign is to make sure that the buildings, homes and infrastructure we’re building now meet two goals: 
* Are safe to live in in our changing climate and future extreme heat
* Help us get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (at the latest)

Net zero carbon emission cities

The buildings and infrastructure built now need to fit into Australia’s 2050 net zero carbon emissions target. This will reduce carbon emissions, give workers more confidence in long term plans and future-proof our suburbs. New homes should be energy efficient and be ready for renewable electricity. Common sense energy efficiency measures like high quality insulation, eaves, light roofs and having enough room for trees in new suburbs are all affordable and effective. Making sure that our suburbs have high quality public and active transport networks will reduce transport related carbon emissions
Transitioning our energy system away from fossil fuels will decarbonise the supply side of our energy system, but we also need to design and build our cities to facilitate decarbonisation on the demand side.

Safe cities in a warming climate

The type of cities we build now will define the number of people who die in the deadly heatwave of our future. The sprawling urban heat island developments spreading around our cities have few trees, lots of concrete and dark surfaces to attract the heat. Our hottest suburbs already reach 50° on the ground in summer and in the coming decades we will experience summer heatwaves where it is dangerous to leave the house. We cannot build enough heat shelters for the millions of people who will be impacted by deadly heatwaves, so we need to make our homes safer. 
Practically, what this looks like is updating the climate benchmarks for measures like the BASIX standards to be set according to the projected future climate, not historical climate data.

In 2020 Waverley Council released a report saying that homes built under current standards would be unliveable without mechanical cooling by 2070. 

For somewhere like Western Sydney, it would mean people could feel confident when they’re buying a new home that it will be safer in environmental disasters. Infrastructure like public transport would be more reliable in the future and during disasters.
People will see the practical and local transformation of our cities for sustainability and liveability. Our air will be cleaner and our workplaces will be safer. We will have better physical and mental health. 
Some of the measures required are easy (no more black roofs in hot suburbs) and some are hard (deciding what areas may be unsafe to live in). However, the only guarantee is that not acting will result in higher emissions, more climate catastrophe and unsafe homes and suburbs.

Local campaigns
Plastic grass can be 80% hotter than natural grass on a hot day.

Did you know that synthetic turf can increase ground surface temperatures by 80-90% compared to natural grass? Plastic grass exacerbates the urban heat island effect by absorbing heat, warming air temperatures, and hardening soil. As temperatures rise in our cities, urban heat islands will be even more dangerous.
You can read more information about the issues with fake grass here.
Victorians across the state have told us that they don’t want any more fake grass installed in schools or public parks. We’ve heard stories of burning hot parks and seen photos of sweltering sports fields reaching over 60°.
It’s time to end the use of fake plastic grass in public spaces across our suburbs. We need to take action to reduce the urban heat island effect and green our public spaces to reduce heat.  
Help us tackle the issue of fake plastic grass by signing this petition, and letting us know where the fake grass is in your neighbourhood.

Turf out fake grass
Target: The Honourable Shaun Leane, Minister for Suburban Development

Note: This descriptive text was copied from the Campaign's website. Some website links may no longer be active.

Campaign Details

Group Leading this Campaign: Sweltering Cities

Campaign Target Type:

Who this Campaign is Targeting: Shaun Leane, Minister for Suburban Development

Main Issue of the Campaign:

Campaign Ran From: 2023 to 2024

Campaign Outcome:

Year Outcome Assessed:

Geographic Range of Activity:


Liveable Cities: Building Cooler Suburbs