Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stradbroke Shack World Architecture

My childhood holidays were spent at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island in Queensland, usually in relatively primitive accommodation. Recently I was surprised to see a "shack" on the island listed in a very large and very expensive book of world architecture (at the National Gallery of Victoria Store). I neglected to record any of the details, assuming if the building was this famous I would be able to do a quick check online for it. But I can't find it. The building seems to be at "Domain Stradbroke Resort". The book might be "Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture". Who designed the building? Is it in a book of world architecture? Why?

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bushfire rated prefabricated Australian house

Happy Haus is a modular house design from Queensland which is intended to mee the requirements of new building standards for bushfire prone areas (AS 3959). The first production model has been installed on Stradbroke Island.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green ICT from Queensland Government

The Queensland Government has issued "ICT for tomorrow's Queensland" with a Strategy Document and Action Plan (September 2009). There are six themes: employment, business and skills development, green ICT, internationalisation and regional access.

Some excerpts from the strategy:
Flagship project: smart ICT solutions for climate

This flagship project will implement a range of initiatives to increase business and government awareness of ICT as a tool for reducing the State’s
greenhouse gas emissions through reduced energy consumption and motor vehicle usage.

The ICT industry environment Initiatives

• Promote Queensland ICT technologies to priority industry
sectors through case studies and at targeted industry events
• Showcase Queensland ICT solutions to Government agencies via the Queensland Government Chief Information Office and CITEC
• Implement a Cleantech Enterprise Pipeline by raising the business and commercialisation skills in emerging Cleantech ICT firms and making the investment community and major end-user industries more aware of
opportunities through information seminars and events
• Assist the ICT industry to minimise its environmental footprint, and that of other industries, by promoting the environmental and financial benefits of managing energy more efficiently and minimising waste streams
• Leverage ICT industry development opportunities flowing from the Queensland Government’s new $15 million Climate Smart Business Service to begin in July 2010, assisting small-to-medium sized business to access a
range of advice and assistance to lower their greenhouse gas emissions
• Support the promotion of ICT-based green solutions such as intelligent transport systems to reduce congestion and solutions for improved e-government service delivery ...

From: ICT for tomorrow's Queensland: Strategy Document, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, he State of Queensland, September 2009

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Queensland inquiry into energy efficiency

The Queensland Parliament is holding an inquiry into energy efficiency. The Environment and Resources Committee is to report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 November 2009. Readers may find my Submission on Sustainable ICT Procurement to the ACT Legislative Assembly of relevance. The Queensland committee has held two seminars (Townsville 24 July and Brisbane, 7 August) and invited submissions. There is a Media Release, Issues Paper and List of energy efficiency policies and initiatives available. Here are excerpts from the issues paper:
This paper provides background information about the committee and its inquiry into energy efficiency improvements. It also flags the issues that the committee would like people to comment on.

The Committee
The Environment and Resources Committee is a select committee of the Queensland Parliament appointed to monitor and report on issues in the policy areas of: environmental protection; climate change; land management; water security;
and energy.

Inquiry Terms of Reference
On 23 April 2009, Parliament resolved that the committee will examine and report on the economic and environmental potential provided by energy efficiency improvements for households; communities; industry; and government.

For this inquiry, the committee will consider:

• The economic and environmental costs and benefits arising from energy efficiency improvements;
• Potential barriers and impediments to improved energy efficiency;
• Potential policy options for energy efficiency improvements, with an emphasis on initiatives that are cost effective for individual producers and consumers; and
• The role of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and other Commonwealth Government initiatives in encouraging energy efficiency.

The committee is required to report their findings to Parliament by 30 November 2009.

What is Energy Efficiency?
The term ‘energy efficiency’ and what might be considered an energy efficiency measure or improvement has come to mean different things to different people. For this inquiry, the committee has drawn a clear distinction between energy efficiency improvements and other initiatives to conserve or limit energy use by simply doing less.

Energy efficiency measures, unlike energy conservation, aim to reduce energy consumption while at the same time maintaining or increasing the level or useful output of outcome delivered using less energy input. Examples of energy efficiency improvements include energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems as well
as improved energy management practices.

Choosing to travel less by car or turning down the thermostat on air conditioners are examples of energy conservation measures, which are not part of this inquiry.

Energy in Australia
Energy is vital to our economy both as an input to production across industry sectors and for consumption by households. It is also a driver of economic growth and wealth creation contributing to the general economic and social wellbeing of all Australians.

Of the member nations of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Australia has the fifth-highest energy intensity (that is, energy use per unit of Gross Domestic Product) behind only Canada, Finland, the United States and Belgium.

Despite a general slowing of energy consumption growth in recent decades compared to previous trends, energy consumption continues to grow in Australia at an average of 2.3 percent annually. ...

Energy in Queensland
Twenty-three percent of Australia’s energy consumption during 2006-07 was consumed in Queensland.7 The state’s major energy-consuming sectors were electricity generation (29 percent), manufacturing (24 percent), transport (24 percent), mining (7.9 percent), residential (7.7 percent), and commercial and services sectors (4.4 percent). ...

Queensland’s total energy consumption almost trebled over the thirty years. Consumption for energy generation, transport and manufacturing accounted for over 85 percent of all energy use. Residential energy use as a proportion of total energy use
actually fell over the period from 5.5 percent in 1976-07 to 4.5 percent in 2006-07.

The Benefits of Energy Efficiency Improvements
Improving energy efficiency is widely accepted as the least-cost approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IEA, energy efficiency offers a powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable energy future.

Improvements in energy efficiency can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness and improve consumer welfare.
Environmental benefits can also be achieved by the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and local air pollution. Energy efficiency policy and technology in buildings, appliances, transport and industry, as well as end-use applications such as lighting can be realised through best-practice, highlighting the possibilities for energy efficiency improvements and policy approaches.

The IEA concluded that between 1990 and 2004 energy efficiency improvements in IEA countries avoided around 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse pollution being emitted in 2004. They also saved at least US$170 billion in fuel and electricity costs in the same year. In the past, the IEA has noted that Australia compares poorly to other OECD countries in the uptake of technical energy efficiency. Over the period from 1990 to 1998, Australian energy efficiency improved at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent, while the average in other OECD countries was 0.7 percent per year.

In late 2007, the Australian Government committed Australia to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by sixty percent from 2000 levels by 2050. Modelling by the IEA shows that as much as half the savings in greenhouse gas emissions required by 2050 can be achi eved by adopting energy efficiency measures.

Better energy efficiency is also good for the economy.
By reducing energy costs, businesses, households, communities and governments can realise savings in their energy spending and spend more on non-energy goods,
equipment and services.

Policies to Promote Energy Efficiency
All Australian Governments have committed to implementing measures to improve energy efficiency. Government policy has largely focused on three areas: the establishment of energy efficiency provisions for the Building Code of Australia;
labelling standards and minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for appliances and equipment; and financial incentives and rebates for the implementation of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies and the phasing out of old technologies.

The Federal Government released a Green Paper in July 2008 outlining its proposal for a national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to commence in 2010 as the primary mechanism to encourage activities and investment to reduce emissions. At the time of writing, the Federal Parliament had not considered the legislative amendments necessary to establish the proposed CPRS. The reporting deadline for this inquiry may limit the committee’s consideration of the impacts of the CPRS scheme.

Current Queensland Government energy efficiency initiatives

• Four-star energy efficient commercial buildings by 2010 and improved standards for energy efficiency in residential homes;
• Phase out of electric storage hot water systems with greenhouse-friendly alternatives from 2010.
• ClimateSmart Homes rebates and ClimateSmart Living education campaign;
• Home EnergyWise tools – energy efficiency self-audit tools and materials; and
• Energy Choices Program – complementary incentives that includes residential gas installation rebates, energy audit service, school energy efficiency action plans and an
Energywise off-peak campaign.

Information on Energy Efficiency Initiatives
The committee’s website includes links to information about major Australian Government and Queensland Government energy efficiency policy initiatives and the CPRS.

1. What have been the economic and environmental costs and benefits of energy efficiency initiatives affecting households, industries/businesses, governments and
communities in Queensland?
2. In economic and environmental terms, what energy efficiency initiatives have been effective in Queensland?
3. What role do Commonwealth Government initiatives, including the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, play in encouraging energy efficiency?
4. What additional policies should the Queensland Government implement to encourage energy efficiency improvements?

Barriers and Impediments to Energy Efficiency Improvements
A range of barriers and impediments can delay or impede the full implementation of energy efficiency enhancements.

They include:
• A lack of awareness and understanding of costs and savings;
• Resistance to change;
• The lack of energy efficient alternatives;
• Expectations of low returns and high risks;
• The initial cost of the enhancement;
• The likely payback period to realise a financial return from the enhancement;
• The long lifespan of pre-existing vehicles, equipment and appliances;
• The relatively low cost of energy versus the high cost of change;
• The lack of expertise and advice; and
• Market failures due to insufficient information and the corporate risks associated with research and development.

5. What barriers and impediments to energy efficiency enhancements exist in Queensland?
6. What policies should be considered to overcome these barriers and impediments?
7. How can governments make information on energy efficiency improvements more accessible?

From: Issues Paper, No. 1, Environment and Resources Committee, Legislative Assembly, Queensland Parliament, June 2009

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Learning Spaces in Brisbane

Gordon Howell with QUT designed portable wireless nodeAfter visiting Brisbane city library at Brisbane Square I took the Free Loop downtown bus service. to Queensland University of Technology, located beside the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. Gordon Howell, Manager Learning Environments Support at QUT showed me some of their innovations.

One clever item are large flat screen displays (Plasma or LCD) on a mobile carts. Attached to the back of the carts is one of the university's standard PCs. Above the screen is a video conference camera and microphone. There is a tray with a wireless keyboard and mouse beneath the screen. There is a wireless broadband antenna on top of the unit. QUT mobile flat screen with PC and web cameraThis makes a mobile presentation and video conferencing system. Some units can be checked out by staff for use in teaching rooms, saving having to equip each of the smaller rooms with equipment. Other units are permanently tethered in the library for use by student groups.Another development was a "network in a box" this is a weatherproof case containing a 3G wireless device and WiFi. The idea is that one such unit can be set up to provide broadband access to wireless devices in the vicinity. Gordon is also looking at equipment similar to my Portable learning centre and even the deployable classroom.

QUT have taken the approach with their learning commons of providing flexibility for students to arrange the furniture and equipment as described in "Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Positive Outcomes by Design". The Lab 2.0 looked a little chaotic to me, but perhaps that was just a sign of enthusiastic and heavy use by students. Gordon described how at the beginning of the year, the students separated the furniture for solitary work, but as groups formed for projects, they pushed the furniture together so they could work together. The screens on wheels were generally pushed up to one end of a bench, with students down two sides. In some cases mobile white boards have been used as partitions to form team rooms.

Other areas of the learning commons had rows of PCs. The university is looking at the use of thin clients to replace some desktop PCs. One suggestion I made was not to segregate the laptop users from the desktop PC users, perhaps leaving a space free between every few desktop computers for a laptop user.

Then I crossed the Brisbane River via the Goodwill Bridge to visit Southbank Institute of Technology Library. Heather Burrell, Library Manager showed me around their learning commons. The library provides computer literacy training, using computer based courses, for students across the Institute. Students can do self paced courses in the library, with a tutor on duty to assist. They can then do computer based tests with staff supervising. This seems a logical and cost effective way to deliver what is the 21st century version of literacy: being able to communicate using a computer.

It is good to see the library retains an extensive collection of paper books, as well as being equipped with computers and space for laptops. There is less emphasis on flexible movable furniture than QUT and I noticed a much quieter more atmosphere at SIT. One innovation were "diner" style booths around the wall, which seated four students, two on each side of a bench, with a chest high wall separating them from the next booth.

There were several training rooms, each holding about 18 students, with movable walls which could be opened out to the common area and removable partitions between the rooms. This arrangement allows the room to be opened out when not needed for a class.

There were fewer laptops evident at SIT, than QUT's library and less equipment.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learning Spaces in Higher Education

I wrote Thursday, May 28, 2009: "I am planning visit to Brisbane, May 30 to June 2 to look at flexible learning and green ICT. Who should I talk to?". One of those who responded was Gordon Howell, Manager Learning Environments Support at QUT. He pointed out the proceedings of a 2008 colloquium: "Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Positive Outcomes by Design". I hope to get along to see QUT's work on Lab 2.0 and see if it lives up to the claims made. I am sceptical of the value for learning spaces with movable furniture:
Lab 2.0 is an experimental learning space designed for students to be able to alter their physical environment to suit their learning needs. Students are encouraged to "make the space work for them"
with new non-traditional forms of movable furniture and related technology. The space is enhanced with technology and collaboration software that enables students to share project work, documents and artefacts in real-time with other group members.

The Lab 2.0 space has been developed in a vacant space within the Library building on the Gardens Point campus. It sits adjacent to more formal computer labs and is seen as a complementary addition to the more structured University computing facilities. The space covers approximately 350 square metres and was redeveloped with a focus on flexibility, simplicity and reuse resulting in a total development cost of slightly less than $90,000 including all furniture, technology, power and data fittings. Based on traditional figures for space redevelopment within the University, the space was redeveloped for between a third and a fifth of the normal costs associated with space redevelopment. ...

From: Lab 2.0, by Geoff Mitchell, Greg Winslett, Gordon Howell, Learning Spaces in Higher Education: Positive Outcomes by Design, NGLS 2008 Colloquium, University of Queensland, 2009

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Brisbane ferry WiFi

According to news reports the University of Queensland is expanding its WiFi network, including onto the City Cat ferries which carry students and staff from the Brisbane CBD to the St Lucia campus. According to Brisbane City Council, which runs the ferries, WiFi has been fitted to the ferry Yawagara and the others will be fitter in the next few weeks. Other passengers can also access the WiFi with an account from UQ's network service UQconnect.

The university is also installing six Cisco TelePresence teleconference studios. These are the same systems being installed in federal government offices around Australia. As well as being used for teaching, research and administration accross university campuses (and so reducing energy use from travel), this would allow the university and government people to have joint events. The systems could also be used to avoid face-to-face contact during a flu pandemic.

One negative aspect of the university network plans are proposals to use thousands of idle PCs for grid computing. While it might seem tempting to use PCs in unoccupied student labs to run computing intensive tasks, this is a waste of energy and will generate greenhouse gas pollution. Dekstop PCs are not designed to run computation intensive tasks and will use an excessive amount of energy. Instead specially designed servers should be used for this. The best thing to do with a desktop computer when it is not needed is to turn it off to save power.

If UQ wants to be able to use off-peak computing power, it should replace the desktop PCs with Thin Clients: low cost computers with only enough processing power to run the user interface. They then should install central servers to run the user's applications. These servers can then be used for computation intensive tasks when not needed for students in the labs. As well as saving electrical power, this will cost less to purchase.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Blended Learning Conference 2009

The University of Queensland is hosting "Blended Learning Conference 2009", in Brisbane 18 June 2009. Apart from looking like an interesting event, UQ have a very useful list of web resources on the topic of blended learning:

Blended learning commonly describes learning that combines traditional teaching and learning approaches with information and communication technologies. It is anticipated that blended learning will enhance the student learning experience. A typical example of this would be blending online activities with face-to-face sessions. This can mean using the best of the best - the best use of online learning to enable classroom activities to be active and engaging learning experiences (Graham, 2006).

The major aims of Blended learning are to:

  • use information and communication technologies to support more active approaches to student learning
  • support learning activities that extend outside face-to-face sessions
  • assist students in being better prepared for face-to-face sessions.
From: What is Blended Learning, University of Queensland, 2009.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Queensland Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce

ACS  Green IT Operating ModelThe Queensland ICT Industry launched a National Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce with the ACS in Queensland on 23rd July 2008. The ACS also has a Green ICT Group.

The ACS on behalf of the Queensland ICT Industry invites you to the launch of the National Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce.

The Green IT Industry SIG aims to provide industry and consumers with reliable information on current strategies and practices for achieving environmentally sustainable IT.

Speakers from Industry and Government will explain how the IT Industry and major users can understand and respond effectively to the changing business landscape created by climate change and carbon accounting.


Alison O’Flynn - Guest keynote speaker
Alison heads the Sustainability Consulting practice for Fujitsu Australia, assisting organisations in understanding the risks and identifying opportunities in response to climate change, developing the ‘Green Business Case’ and implementing strategic initiatives.

Dr Paul Campbell, Green IT Industry Taskforce Chair
How Queensland is leading the national Green IT agenda

Phillip Nyssen, Green IT Special Interest Group Chair
How you and your organisation can adopt Green IT practices.

This event is kindly sponsored by:

Brisbane City Council and Fujitsu

About this Event
Venue: Brisbane City Hall King George Square
Date: Wednesday 23rd July 2008
Time: 1:30PM
23rd July, 2008

The ACS Green IT Special Interest Group (SIG), chaired by Phillip Nyssen, ACS Qld Board Member, started in Brisbane this year. Its role is to drive IT industry awareness, knowledge and adoption in response to climate change and carbon accounting.

The objectives of the Green IT SIG and opportunities for you include:

Objectives Opportunities
 Lobby industry \ government policy
 Accessible, real information
 Industry collaboration
 Focus groups
 Up to date information
 Champion empowerment
 Best practices
 Innovative solutions
 Professional collateral
 Focus groups
 Access to company experts
 Peer reviewers for knowledge base
 Case studies
 Industry insights
 Lobby government

The work will be supported by the Green IT Taskforce, chaired by Dr Paul Campbell Executive Officer, ICT Industry Workgroup. Its members are comprised of senior managers from the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and the IT industry.

The Green IT SIG and Taskforce will work together as described below:
Please register you interest and access information at:

Please keep this paper. Pass it on or pin to your workplace noticeboard !!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Citizen Journalism Research Job

The Queensland University of Technology is advertising a research job with Citizen Journalism. This is to work with projects such as Online Opinion, (which I am on the editorial advisory board of).

Queensland is working hard at being a power in the new "Creative Industries", with their
Creative Industries Precinct hosting the 2007 China Media Centre Conference in July (where I am speaking on my work on the web design for the Beijing 2008 Olympics).
Research Associate in Digital Media and Citizen Journalism - Creative Industries Faculty, QUT

A Research Associate is required to work collaboratively with a team of researchers on an ARC Linkage Project on digital media and citizen journalism. The Research Associate will be part of a collaborative research project based in the Creative Industries Faculty.

This position is required to work collaboratively with a team of QUT and externally-based researchers in Brisbane and Sydney. Partners on this project include the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), National Forum (publishers of On Line Opinion) and The Brisbane Institute. The position is for two years, and the starting salary is $63 285 to $72 781 pa.

This position will involve working with an academic and industry team on the development of new forms of digital media that facilitate citizen journalism, and an investigation of their impact. It involves project management, management of stakeholder participation, development of research methodologies and performance metrics, and documentation of project outcomes.

The person will work with the project team, under the direction of the Chief Investigators, on managing relations with external stakeholders, developing appropriate methodologies and performance metrics for embedding and evaluating online participation in cross-platform media environments, with a focus upon news and current affairs and factual programming.

The successful applicant will have an understanding of social networking media, and a capacity to work collaborative across a range of user communities, as well as project participants in government, industry and media, and skills in the areas of applied social research, and project management.

The Research Associate will report to the Chief Investigator at QUT on the project for regular supervision, and will be required to liaise with the Management team. This will require an ability to commit to interstate travel, particularly for meetings with the Sydney and Brisbane-based project members.

The person should have an understanding of the broader context in which debates surrounding citizen journalism have gained increasing significance in the digital media environment. Information technology skills, particularly as they relate to the establishment and maintenance of collaborative media environments (e.g. blogs, wikis, social networking media) are desirable, but not essential.

Further information on the position can be found at

The closing date for applications is Friday 27 April, 2007. ...

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