Making Melbourne The World's First 'Self-Sufficient' City, With Consultant Will Young

Imagine a future where every building in your city was powered by renewable energy and never sent any waste to landfill?

It almost sounds too good to be true, but this is the goal behind environmental engineering consultancy Finding Infinity’s mission to make Melbourne the world’s first self-sufficient city by 2030.

The project, called ‘A New Normal’, is already underway, with 15 innovative initial projects that work towards goals like electrifying our transport and architecture, turning organic waste into energy, reusing water, and ditching all fossil fuels.

In the latest episode of TDF Talks, we hear from Finding Infinity’s Will Young who reveals how this ambitious vision could become reality — if the right people get on board!

Listen now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and learn more below.

Christina Karras
Supported by Momentum Energy

Wilam Ngarrang is a recently retrofitted Fitzroy apartment building by Kennedy Nolan, that’s one of the 15 projects driving ‘A New Normal’ — the proposal to turn Melbourne into a sufficient city.

Finding Infinity environmental consultant Will Young.

Finding Infinity hope the recently completed project is an example of what should be a building code for future retrofits across the city.

Other projects showcase how to new buildings could be constructed to zero net standards, how to improve solar uptake across the city, and turn waste into energy!

Christina Karras
8th of September 2023

Finding Infinity is a Melbourne-based organisation dedicated to speeding up the world’s transition to self-sufficient cities.

Founded by Ross Harding in 2011, they advise businesses and governments to drive financially viable, achievable environmental initiatives on projects ranging from residential houses to city blocks, and even citywide strategies.

In the last few years, the team has been working with architects, investors, developers, and councils on a concept to transform Melbourne into a zero-carbon city by 2030 in an incredible project called ‘A New Normal’.

Will Young is one of the environmental consultants involved in this inspiring mission. He recently joined Lucy our podcast TDF Talks to break down the 10-point strategy that could make our city a world-leader in sustainability, powered entirely by renewable energy, with an unlimited supply of water, that sends zero waste to landfill!

Here are some of the top takeaways from the interview.

How the idea for ‘A New Normal’ came about

Will says the team had been collating facts and figures on some of Melbourne’s biggest environmental issues and decided to research some cost-effective solutions, as they would for any smaller project they work on.

‘We essentially approach every project by trying to find the way for it to have no negative environmental impact, or even a positive environmental impact, in the most cost-effective way possible,’ Will says.

‘We wondered, if we applied all of these things that are all cost effective and all proven in one place, what would happen?’ They distilled it into a report with ‘10 relatively simple initiatives’ that are now driving the project.

What are the projects?

‘A New Normal’ proposes 15 ‘pilot’ projects to kickstart Melbourne’s renewable transition, of which eight are already underway.

One standout example is Wilam Ngarrang, a recently retrofitted Fitzroy apartment building by Kennedy Nolan, that showcases adaptive reuse of an existing building, with an outcome of ‘net zero’ energy use. Other examples outline plans for putting solar panels on every second rooftop in the city, and turning the Latrobe Valley region into ‘a renewable generation hub’ with wind and solar.

It is Finding Infinity’s hope that these pilot projects will act as catalysts for policy change, propelling further investment in likeminded initiatives, right across the city.

What will it cost?

‘It turns out that for about $100 billion you could transform Melbourne to become a self-sufficient within 10 years,’ Will says. They also calculated that this investment would be paid-back in about seven years due to the significant savings from the city’s improved efficiency!

The report proposes that this switch to clean energy, water reuse and a circular economy would provide over 80,000 jobs.

Why we need to electrify everything, and get on board a new normal

Will reminds us that gas is a fossil fuel and it’s running out — so there’s no way we can ever transition to be zero carbon if we don’t transition away from gas. ‘There just isn’t an alternative. It makes sense to transition to a hundred percent electric now right now,’ Will adds.

‘So heat pumps for your hot water, and for your heating and cooling, and induction cooking instead of gas cooking, these all pay back quickly.’

‘There’s always this talk about every dollar we spend as a government is borrowing from future generations, but it’s [really about] investing in future generations.’

The only thing holding us back is ourselves

Finding Infinity are all about finding solutions that are actually possible, and they’ve researched this project to make sure that the science, data, and technology are all already within reach — we just need to make it happen!

Listen to the full podcast interview with Will Young on TDF Talks via Spotify or Apple Podcasts

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