Department of Public Works Townsville State Of Environment Report James Cook University Thuringowa Riverway Townsville Port

The Townsville State of Environment Report Townsville Port Authority Riverway James Cook University Department of Public Works

North Queensland

 Latest Information

Smart Housing Queensland

Smart Housing has been developed in response to the demand
for housing that better meets people's needs and responds to the
Queensland climate while saving money.

Table of Contents
Latest Information
List of Definitions
The Purpose of the Document
Twin Imperative for North Queensland
Knowledge Network Clusters
A Vision for A Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design
Tropical design and innovation in North Queensland
Role and Scope of a Centre
Key Challenges for a Centre
Partners and Potential Network Members
Foundations and Principles
Organic Organisational Processes
Benefits for Participants and the Community
A Virtual Centre and Process for its Evolution
Practical First Steps
CETD list of contributors


Latest Information


A Powerful Townsville: Qld's Solar City
An Australian Green Development Forum event

Australian Green Development Forum is hosting a Townsville Solar Cities project update including coverage on issues regarding solar energy and climate change and how it effects our local industries in sustainable development. This will be a high profile event within the north Queensland community so don't miss out!

Speakers include:

  • The Honourable Andrew McNamara, Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation (Video address – TBC)

  • Mayor Les Tyrell, Townsville City Council

  • Greg Bruce, Manager of Integrated Sustainability Services, Townsville City Council

  • Ian Cruickshank, Manager Solar City, Ergon Energy

  • Wendy Miller, Manager, Qld Sustainable Energy Industry Development Group

Visit the AGDF website for more details:

Previous Event: 20th of August 2008

JCU Discovery Rise
Paths to Sustainability workshop

For details visit:

Thuringowa Sustainable Village Project
An extensive focus group program

Click for more details

Previous Event: 3rd October 2006

Suzuki Speakes
Free Presentation by World Renown Environmentalist Dr David Suzuki

Previous Event: 17th May 2006

Janine Benyus Australian Tour
Free Presentations by International Biomimicry Expert Janine Benyus

Previous Event: 6th-10th March 2006

Engineers visioning a Sustainable Future
Townsville City Council - The Natural Edge Project
Engineering and Water Management & Training Week Workshop
(March 2006).

Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program
Townsville, 6th March 2006

For further information, contact Townsville City Council: 07 4727 9314

Further reading:

The Natural Edge Project
Water & Waster Water
Infrastructure & Stormwater


Previous Event: 8th December 2005

Sustainability: an insight into design,
cities and beyond…
A Knowledge Share and Networking Event

A presentation featuring two prominent sustainability experts followed by an opportunity for informal networking.

• Don Watson is a leading Queensland architect and RAIA Sustainable Architecture Award winner. Gain an insight into his 2005 multi-award winning project: the Noosa Environmental Centre.

• Professor Lal Wadhwa is a sought after keynote speaker on sustainability and was Chair of The Sustainable City conferences 2002 and 2004. Share in his views on key sustainability issues.

Invitation only & numbers limited.
Contact Ann Kelly
Project Services
P: 4799 5538

Sustainable Commercial Buildings in Tropical Environments
September 2005

See below for workshop information and PowerPoint presentations


Action Plan for a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design

Commercial Sustainable Building Workshop (Sept 05)

Hunter Lovins Tour - Sustainable Business Practice

Launch and Philosophy of
a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design

List of Definitions

A number of things of the same kind growing or held together, a group of things or persons near together.

“Clusters bring government entities, companies, suppliers and local institutions together around a common agenda which is constructive and actionable”

Michael Porter
“The Competitive Advantage of Nations” 1998

A chain or system of interconnected or intercommunicating immaterial things, points or people. To link together for sharing of data and the efficient use of resources. To communicate or foster relationships with a network of people for personal advantage.

An influential place or organisation, a place, area or group of people exerting influence over, within or somebody else – a centre of design innovation.

To create a detailed plan, to plan and make, to intend for use, to invent, to picture something’s form or structure, the way something is made, the process of designing, the intention, an underlying sense of purpose or planning.

Photo by Torppo Architects
Photo by Troppo Architects

The Purpose of the Document  

This document is designed to develop an understanding of the key concepts for a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design (CETD), Sustainability and Innovation.

It discusses the twin imperatives of building 21st century sustainable prosperity in a global economy and the increasing demands placed on all of us to live sustainably in our environments.

It explores the roles of knowledge industry clusters in the formation of globally competitive industries and outlines a vision for the development of a centre based on an understanding of these clusters.

It also describes the potential scope, roles and outcomes to which it and its members would aspire.

This document will assist interested parties to understand the concept of a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design (CETD), the key principles underpinning its genesis and operation and a vision for the future for the twin cities and North Queensland.

return to contents

Main Roads, Central Highlands District Office, Emerald Customer Service Centre

Twin Imperative for North Queensland

Globalisation is driving a paradigm shift from a society based on the production and distribution of goods and services to a society based on the application of knowledge and learning in a global economy. At the same time our society is facing fundamental challenges in learning to live sustainably.

These challenges are:

  • securing sustainable and affordable sources of energy
  • resolving competition for natural resources
  • balancing development opportunities with biodiversity and the needs of the natural environment incorporating notions of landscape ecology
  • securing sustainable water resources
  • responding to changes in climate variability and extremes
  • building globally competitive 21st century businesses
  • providing for equity and social justice

Resolving and responding to the twin imperatives of sustainability and global competitiveness will involve fundamental changes to how we live, work, consume and how we organise our communities.
In this sense achieving sustainability in tropical environments dictates that cities, communities and individuals must learn how to:

  • touch more lightly on the environment and protect biodiversity
  • develop a shared understanding of practical sustainability for the tropics
  • apply tropical sustainable principles to the urban, rural and regional built environments
  • generate new understanding through integrated research, action learning and practically focused partnerships
  • develop systems and processes for the wide and timely dissemination of best practice
  • develop 21st century opportunities for business and employment, and growth for the benefit of Townsville-Thuringowa and North Queensland

The pressing challenge for individuals and organisations is how to pro-actively engage in learning processes that facilitate the transition to a more sustainable and prosperous society.

return to contents

Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Knowledge Network Clusters

Competitive skills on a global scale have emerged in areas where there is a high concentration of clusters of knowledge and learning networks. These networks are formed through a range of formal and informal partnerships, relationships and collaborations that involve a dynamic mixture of government, business, community, industry, financial and learning organisations. Typically they focus on a range of activities, from finding practical solutions to problems, to pursuing innovative and creative approaches.

Global experience has shown that networks grow and flourish where there is:

  • a desire of individuals and organisations to tackle difficult contemporary challenges
  • a shared commitment to a preferable future vision
  • a clear, shared strategic intent
  • an open dialogue fostered by a focus on practical applications, demonstration projects, innovation and capability building.

However, the central success factor in growing such networks is a strong engagement with the community on practical issues of concern, healthy cross-sectorial networking and mutual respect.

These arrangements tend to focus on research, learning and a desire to commercialise applications which emerge from these collaborations. They are also pivotal in bringing people and organisations together motivated by issues of mutual concern. Because of their sheer density and concentration of learning, distinct capabilities and competencies flourish. This allows for the growth of globally competitive businesses.

return to contents

A Vision for a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design

A future scenario....

It is envisaged in ten years that a ‘Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design’ is part of an exciting series of hubs of learning, innovation and business development on sustainable design and living in North Queensland.

The Centre is widely recognised as a key partner in fostering the networking that underpins the sustainable tropical design knowledge cluster. The cluster is now the backbone of a flourishing process of practical innovation and learning about sustainable tropical living. The Centre is seen globally as the pre-eminent source of information, learning and expertise on sustainable tropical design integrating sustainability through concepts of Ecology, Community and Place.

Key to the success of the Centre is its ability to provide a neutral environment for people to work collaboratively. It facilitates a growing awareness that living within tropical climates and landscapes has significant implications for the built environment and requires different and distinctive responses.

The Centre has championed North Queensland becoming an exporter of knowledge in tropical design and living to the Asia Pacific region. Today a range of businesses and employment opportunities in North Queensland are based on education, practical learning and design about sustainable construction and community building.

It has fulfilled the promise of its challenge for all of us to live and to touch lightly on our tropical environments. It has gone a long way to address many of the challenges of ensuring prosperity, whilst living sustainably in tropical environments and landscapes.

return to contents

Photo by Torppo Architects Photo by Torppo Architects
Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Tropical design and innovation in North Queensland

A range of organisations, businesses and individuals in North Queensland are responding to the challenge of living sustainably in tropical environments and have already developed a range of unique and distinctive innovations. These include:

  • Thuringowa Riverway Project
  • William McCormack Place, Cairns
  • Travel Smart
  • Townsville Water Management Projects - Supporting Creek to Coral
  • The Strand Foreshore Development – Townsville
  • Rasmussen and sustainable retrofitting of pubic housing
  • Hot Harry Domestic Solar Hot Water System
  • Sustainable Design Project of the Year for the Built Environment.

Significant advances have already been made through the application of local technical expertise, experience and knowledge. The concept of a functioning CETD offers the opportunity to significantly reinforce and enhance the innovations already commenced in North Queensland.

return to contents

Role and Scope of a Centre

Achieving the vision for a Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design involves the centre having a broad scope and the flexibility to pursue a number of roles which include:

  • working in partnership with the community on practical solutions to pressing issues of sustainability
  • developing cross-sectorial partnerships and collaborations that can apply innovative techniques across industry and community
  • stimulating an increased awareness of both the challenges and opportunities of the needed transition to sustainability
  • facilitating co-operative research to support specific local solutions
  • leading design professionals to apply innovative strategies
  • building expertise through the transfer of knowledge between organisations and networks
  • developing learning systems that can transform tacit knowledge into formal knowledge and learning programs
  • providing the milieu where sustainable design businesses and strategic partnerships can evolve and develop

To achieve its potential the Centre would have the following broad areas of interest:

  • Building regional approaches to sustainable communities
  • Working towards sustainable local communities
  • Healthy environments
  • Excellence in building and design
  • Our built heritage
  • Landscape Ecology & Biodiversity
  • Envisioning the future
  • Sustainable design for all

Photo by Torppo Architects
Click a thumbnail to enlarge

The Centre would be interested in assisting delivery of outcomes in all aspects of sustainability - economic, social, cultural, and environmental. It would have deliverables in broad areas such as:

Energy Efficiency

  • Natural ventilation
  • Principles of air conditioning
  • Solar control
  • Energy Systems
  • Embedded energy
  • Building Management
  • Distributed Renewable energy

Climate Response

  • Regional variation
  • Seasonal response
  • Cyclone design
  • Rainfall
  • Condensations
  • Humidity
  • Ventilation


  • Transport
  • Waste Disposal
  • Water cycles & recycling

Community building

  • Disaster planning
  • Social planning
  • Community engagement & development
  • Youth
  • Social & cultural capital
  • Social marketing
  • Community economic development
  • Landcare/Coastcare

Quality & Safety

  • Health & safety
  • Quality control
  • Standards
  • Codes
  • Guidelines

Tropical Health

  • Vermin control
  • Public health

Multimedia & Communication

  • Creative design
  • Media
  • Design & promotion

Materials Selection

  • Manufacture
  • Renewable
  • Recycling
  • Green purchasing
  • Durability
  • Local sourcing

Design for remote locations

  • Design
  • Logistics
  • Indigenous communities

Town Planning & Urban Design

  • Land use
  • Public space
  • Accessibility
  • Lower energy usage

Cultural heritage

Research and Future Focused Education & Learning

  • Industry & Government
  • Community
  • Research Collaborations
  • Multi-disciplinary sustainability courses
  • Skills Development
  • Design Courses
    (Architecture, Sustainability
    & Social Planning)

Landscape Ecology & design

  • Biodiversity
  • Open space
  • Natural environments

In short, the Centre’s role and scope will position North Queensland globally as a hub of specialist skills and knowledge related to tropical design. Its clear intent is the growth of a network of companies and organisations that are involved in exporting a range of services in tropical design to the Asia Pacific area and to the broader tropics.

return to contents

Key Challenges for a Centre

There will be a number of challenges to be faced to ensure immediate and ongoing success of such a Centre. Success would be dependent on:

  • Providing appropriate and timely ways of sharing, learning and developing practical solutions that grow people’s and organisation’s capabilities
  • Developing and maintaining a shared commitment to sustainable development through partnerships, collaboration and mutual learning
  • Respecting and balancing competing interests and developing a centre and its network as a neutral area for collaboration
  • Maintaining momentum and direction through a range of practical projects, partnerships and regular forums, meetings, conferences or other collaborative opportunities
  • Encouraging a high level of interaction and development of a shared agenda
  • Harnessing differences and diversity through various strategic alliances to encourage innovation
  • Encouraging input and assistance from members and partnerships to support CETD initiatives in order to achieve desired outcomes
  • Supporting processes for policy reform for sustainability in tropical environments.

return to contents

Photo by Torppo Architects Photo by Torppo Architects
Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Partners and Potential Network Members

The central purpose of CETD would be to foster the growth of a network of hubs of excellence in tropical design. It would do this by building on existing organisations, networks and associations. It will provide linkages amongst and across organisations and individuals with a view to encouraging collaborations, partnerships and strategic alliances.

A list of significant players in sustainable development and potential network partners:

  • Queensland Department of Public Works (DPW)
  • Townsville City Council
  • Thuringowa City Council
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • James Cook University (JCU)
    • The Cyclone Testing Station
    • School of Tropical Environmental Studies & Geography
      • Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning
      • Centre for Disaster Studies
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • University of Queensland (UQ)
  • Technical and Further Education Centres
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA)
  • Engineers Australia
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia
  • Planning Institute of Australia
  • Industry Representatives
  • Environment institutes
  • Australian Water Association (AWA)
  • Australian Green Development Forum (AGDF)
  • Community Regional & subregional Boards
    (e.g. Burdekin Dry Tropics Board)
  • Community Natural Resources Management
    (e.g. Natural Resources and Environment Forum for the Townsville- Thuringowa Coastal Plain (NaREF))

To achieve this network participants would include:

  • Building owners wishing to choose products and services to enhance their building/s suitability to its environment and operating efficiency
  • Businesses involved in the production of a wide range of products and materials
  • Town planning authorities seeking to share or access research findings/industry developments that assist in the development of appropriate guidelines for design and development in a tropical environment
  • Educational institutions aiming to support the economic, social and environmental sustainable development of the region
  • Local Government and State Agencies driving for optimum outcomes for the local community in tropical environments
  • Design professionals researching or applying best practice solutions for exemplary outcomes
  • Industry organisations wishing to undertake research and represent best practice approaches to design in tropical environments for the benefit of their members
  • Other specialist complementary Centres of Excellence - extending the knowledge exchange and achieving influence in broader contexts
  • Community members wishing to be engaged in the process of learning required to ensure the transition to sustainable tropical communities
  • Environmental businesses and community groups with a stake and a commitment to sustainable tropical living and protecting tropical landscapes

A Centre would be managed and supported by a committed collective of key identities drawn from State and Local Government, centres of learning, regional design discipline institutes, the local industry and the community. While no one group will have ownership over the centre, it would support the development of a synergised approach to increased sustainability by embracing diversity in its membership and supporting all sectors in the development of distinctive competencies for mutual benefit.

return to contents

Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Foundations and Principles

A centre must be guided by the following principles:

  • The foundation principle be based on mutual respect and appreciation of the different needs and expectations of members
  • The structure and process underpinning the centre be open and democratic
  • The principle of neutrality of the centre be paramount
  • The focus be on open collaborations, partnerships and learning
  • All organisations to be encouraged to participate, ensuring a healthy cross sectorial networking
  • The facilitation of the growth of sustainability networks and clusters of networks to encourage learning and dissemination of best practice
  • The focus to be on demonstrating practical progress towards sustainability
  • The engaging of the community in practical projects and demonstrations.

return to contents

Organic Organisational Processes

At its heart, the concept of a Centre requires a shift away from a silos and specialties mentality into holistic and innovative solutions. A shift from a world based on ‘more of the same’ to one based on continuous innovation and envisioning radical-novel approaches to the challenges ahead on the way toward sustainability.

How this is done is ultimately as important as the content to its ultimate success.

In essence, the vision for a CETD is building a societal-wide process of learning and adaptation. The fundamental challenge for sustainability is not only knowing what has to be done and how it can be done, but also having a community and society understanding, accepting and willing to change how they live.

Many people and organisations know there is a need to do things differently, but many are less sure what precisely needs to be done.

The challenge for this network is to work in partnership with community, industry, government, and academia to translate this generalised concern into practical strategies to live sustainably in a tropical environment.

return to contents

Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Benefits for Participants and the Community

The development of a Centre would provide many benefits for participants and the wider community. These include:

  • a range of practical projects with demonstrable applications undertaken in this region
  • sharing practical lessons quickly and efficiently across industry and community
  • facilitating a range of partnerships and collaborations that foster sharing of learning and the development of intellectual capital in North Queensland in relation to Tropical Design
  • positioning North Queensland as a source of learning, research and innovative, leading-edge solutions in tropical design
  • disseminating practical applications of Australian ingenuity
  • Recognition of the special character and limitations of tropical landscapes (soil, climate, and water)

return to contents

A Virtual Centre and Process for its Evolution

The concept for a Centre has been initiated by a small group of people and organisations; underpinned by a desire to stimulate a more collaborative partnership between local governments, state government, universities, business and the community.

This Vision Statement for a Centre of Excellence in Tropical Design is a starting point for further discussion and elaboration. There is however a real commitment to continue the underlying partnership that developed this document and to foster its further evolution. As part of the concept, the original partners - City of Townsville, City of Thuringowa, Queensland Project Services and James Cook University Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning - intend to explore project partnerships under the aegis of a Centre for Tropical Design.

Commencing as a “Virtual Centre” it is foreseen that the CETD will establish a more permanent form by 2006. It would serve as the focus for accessing the extensive range of expertise related to tropical design available throughout the Centre’s network of involved organisations.

The ultimate vision is to be able, in the next twenty years, to export practical models for tropical cities and sustainable patterns of living to a global community.

return to contents

Photo by Torppo Architects Photo by Torppo Architects
Click a thumbnail to enlarge

Practical First Steps

Develop & enhance the key foundation partnership between City of Townsville, City of Thuringowa, Department of Public Works and James Cook University Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, including the implementation of the following projects:

  • Workshops on practical projects to share learning on sustainability (e.g. City of Thuringowa Riverway Project; City of Townsville Total Water Cycle Management Program; Department of Public Works 5 Star Building)
  • Identifying knowledge gaps and working/networking with research and education institutions
  • Develop a Local Government Planning, Sustainability officers program
  • Investigating what type of entity would be most appropriate (i.e. alliance, affiliation, or less likely an organisation)
  • Developing base projects that support the idea of a network into the future
  • A Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design (CETD) Web site
  • A Sustainability Summit
  • Continued collaboration on practical outcomes from YBE activities

return to contents

CETD list of contributors
  • Terry Kelly - Dept Public Works
  • Keith Whenmouth - Dept Public Works
  • Greg Bruce - Townsville City Council
  • Andrew McEwen - Thuringowa City Council
  • Geoff Clark - Troppo Architects
  • Donald Mackenzie - Townsville City Council
  • Martin Clark - Thuringowa City Council
  • Paula Grant - Thuringowa City Council
  • Guy Lane - SEA O2 Sustainable Development
  • Nigel Grier - Grier & Associates
  • David King - James Cook University
  • David Henderson - James Cook University
  • Marc Shannon - James Cook University
  • Doug Goudie - James Cook University
  • Peter Hill - James Cook University
  • John Ahern - Royal Australian Institute of Architects(RAIA) NQ Branch
  • Shane Stocker - Tradelink
  • Shaneen Fantin - Arup
  • Nikki Huddy - Cairns City Council
  • Anita Eggington - Cairns City Council
  • Gordon Beath - Royal Australian Institute of Architects(RAIA) FNQ Branch
  • Cr. Ann Bunnell - Deputy Mayor /
         Chair of Sustainable Development Committee, Townsville City Council
  • Peter Foxwell - Director of Environmental Services, Townsville City Council
  • Dawson Wilkie - Director of Engineering Services, Townsville City Council
  • Peter Cardiff - Director of Planning & Development, Townsville City Council
  • Grant Witheridge – Catchments & Creeks Pty. Ltd.
  • Sri Suryati – Townsville City Council
  • John Gunn – Earth Environmental Pty. Ltd.
  • Caryn Anderson – Townsville Port Authority

return to contents


Townsville City Council Home Page

Visit the Queensland Government Department of Public Works WebsiteVisit the James Cook University Website