Thank you one and all!
A big ‘thank you’ to all volunteers who took part in our two community planting days on 21 and 28 May.
Last Sunday a further 74 people took part and were able to cover three plots with 875 shrubs. That means, thanks to the combined energy and efforts over two weekends, the plantings were an overwhelming success with more than 1600 shrubs planted. This is a great start to restoring a patchy shrub layer in the Ginninderra Box Gum Woodlands.
We extend our thanks also to our collaborators Ginninderra Catchment Group, Our Dream Café for refreshments, Horizon coaches for onsite transport and Shelter ACT and Hall Rotary for the barbecue lunches.
If you enjoyed the woodland planting day and are interested in future events like this, you can register to receive our CSIRO Ginninderra newsletters or keep in touch with Ginninderra Catchment Group and Landcare.
Early birds can catch the prize – register by 10 May for our community planting days
Early bird registrations for the Ginninderra community planting days close at midnight on 10 May.
All early bird registrations will be in the running for several prize packs from CSIRO that will include the Greening Australian glovebox guide ‘Bringing Back Birds’ and an author-signed copy of the publication: ‘Jewels in the Landscape – Managing very high conservation value ground-layers in Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands’ by CSIRO’s Jacqui Stol and Suzanne Prober.
Register now at www.csiro.au/GCPD or by calling 1300 363 400.
‘Smarter than smart’ energy ‘fingerprinting’
To improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, CSIRO and a West Australian company are working on a ‘cognitive’ metering system that identifies the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances.
In this age of digital immersion, an increasing number of smart technologies are entering the marketplace to help consumers, and indeed building owners, to make savings and improve lifestyle and environmental outcomes.
In the energy domain, smart (or intelligent) systems that help reduce energy consumption are a target of R&D activity and they are a focus of innovation in CSIRO’s Energy research.
Although various smart meters are already available for monitoring overall energy use, these meters are typically unable to break information down into enough detail to show consumers where the big savings can be made.
That’s where CSIRO and Fremantle-based start-up Ecocentric come into the picture.
We are working together to further develop a ‘cognitive’ metering system that recognises the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances to improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, according to CSIRO Energy Director Karl Rodrigues.
The system based around Ecocentric’s Numen technology will break data down further than smart metering systems to show where and when energy is being used within a given building.
“It’s a smarter than smart system that will enable us see how much energy individual electrical devices are consuming without the burden of individual sub metering hardware,” says Mr Rodrigues.
“Algorithms designed by some of our top scientists recognise the unique energy ‘fingerprint’ generated by electrical devices and show exactly how much energy they’re consuming,” he says.
“This system enables virtual sub-metering that bypasses the need for costly hardware for individual metering of appliances.”
Numen makes use of cloud-based technology which monitors energy use in real time. Analysis of this real time data can help you to identify faults earlier, and prevent energy from being wasted.
“Data collected by our cognitive meters will allow better decision-making about energy conservation and lead to large reductions in cost and carbon emissions for homes and businesses.”
While Numen is commercial-ready now, the partnership with CSIRO will further develop the algorithms for homes and other buildings.
Ecocentric CEO Tim Bray says, “We are is excited by Numen’s commercial prospects, as well as its potential to lower energy use in the built environment.”
“Numen will be a part of Australia’s contribution to a more energy efficient future,” he says.
Under an agreement, Ecocentric will obtain a licence from CSIRO to the cognitive metering technology and work with CSIRO for six years to further refine the system.
“Research like this is helping drive the next wave of productivity and efficiency in energy consumption,” says Dr Rodrigues.
“This is exactly the sort of system that could be developed, tested and refined in a science-backed sustainable urban development like CSIRO Ginninderra.”
Click here for more information on CSIRO energy research.
Using science to transform greenfields and cities
Over the past few years one question that has come up is: ‘why would a national science and innovation agency like CSIRO be involved in what appears to be a greenfield development at Ginninderra on the outskirts of Canberra?’
It’s not a difficult question to answer when you consider what CSIRO is, what it has done in the past and what it is planning to do in the future.
CSIRO and its forerunner Commonwealth science organisations has been harnessing science to solve some of the nation’s greatest challenges for 100 years. Whether it was helping eradicate Prickly Pear or other agricultural pests and weeds, inventing Aerogard, Hendra vaccine, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet and fast WIFI, our innovation has improved the lives of people in Australia and throughout the world.
We have been an important part of the Canberra community as we have developed our world-leading plant, animal, insect, agricultural and environmental expertise since 1927. From our foundation site at Black Mountain we spread to multiple locations (some since closed) from Dickson, Yarralumla, Crace, Campbell, and Ginninderra, through to our involvement with NASA and even the coverage of the moon landing from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla.
A common thread through CSIRO’s history is our ability to work with others to solve problems and find new solutions. This is capital ‘C’ Collaboration! Importantly, the ‘I’ in our name stands for ‘industrial’ – so it’s no surprise that we work closely with a wide range of industries and industry collaborators.
All this begs the questions for Ginninderra: ‘What is the national innovation challenge that can be tackled through science here?’ and ‘which are the industries we can work with on solutions?’
What is the great national challenge at Ginninderra?
The science challenge is one of the most formidable ever – to make our cities and urban areas more sustainable for our people, the environment and the resources and future of the planet.
The role of cities and their citizens in our global dilemma can be seen in this infographic below (based on figures quoted in the United Nations Environment Programme report: Cities and Buildings).
According to that report, cities are where most of the growing world population lives (two thirds of the world by 2030), they consume 75% of global resources, use 80% of energy, and they produce about 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and 50% of world waste.
These same challenges present great opportunities for us to transform city performance along with all the flow-on benefits, through better design and innovation.
CSIRO has a wealth of science knowledge, data, technology and innovation that it can contribute to the ‘whole-of-system’ solutions that are needed. That knowledge and innovation covers fields from mining, materials and manufacturing, energy and renewables, city, land, water, oceans, atmosphere and space; to digital and data solutions, agriculture and food production and heath and biosecurity.
CSIRO also owns and manages a large portfolio of properties, facilities and science platforms that underpin the delivery of our science and innovation. One of our priorities is to make sure we have high quality infrastructure that is used cost-effectively for the benefit of science and the nation.
As an underutilised Commonwealth research asset, CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station provides us with an incredible opportunity to bring our science and innovation into real world applications onsite. It’s an opportunity to employ science to push design and delivery to new limits and realise improved social, economic and environmental benchmarks and outcomes.
Ginninderra is a key site among a portfolio of greenfield, urban and inner city locations where CSIRO intends to work with a wide range of partners to push the horizons of urban sustainability.
Collaboration and partnerships are going to be vitally important to the success of this work. We are already involved with a wide range of government, non-government, community and interest groups and industries with a stake and interest in urban sustainability.
For Ginninderra, one of our key collaborators will be an eventual joint development partner. Rather than a ‘property developer’ per se, we are seeking a partner that will be able to help us realise this sustainability vision through practical planning, design and on-ground application of the science.
We are excited by the prospect of new and emerging opportunities to work with collaborators in the property and construction industry. This is now Australia’s largest industry contributing more than a million jobs and $182 billion a year (11% of GDP) to the Australian economy.
We are equally excited about working with the ACT community, government, research and environmental stakeholders in developing something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.
Citizen-led science is already underway at Ginninderra with the community-led grassland restoration project and this is something we would like to nurture and expand. Community inspired innovation could also help drive the prospect of a greater range of affordable housing options.
The Ginninderra site is a perfect example of an opportunity for science to make a difference for people and it helps us progress our mission to innovate for tomorrow while helping improve today.
So the question really should be: “why wouldn’t we be involved?’
Project update – December
This month we continued to work with the community, while applying CSIRO science to restore and improve key environmental values.
Strong autumn and winter rains and the enthusiasm of many volunteers from the Ginninderra Catchment Group, universities and environmental groups, enabled the planting of one thousand plants on the site as part of the Ginninderra grassland project.
Citizen science is an important focus for us and it was wonderful to have local people and groups participate.
This was a follow-up to the autumn burn grassland restoration trials set up across 13 sites (five of them on the CSIRO Ginninderra property) in the Ginninderra catchment in April 2016.
As progress continues in our search for a development partner, we have refined our vision and are in the process of setting goals, objectives, benchmarks and measures that will underpin Ginninderra and make it unique.
Our next update to the community will be at the Gungahlin Community Council Annual General Meeting tonight (Wednesday 14 December).
We remain committed to engaging with community groups and individual citizens as we move deeper into planning processes in 2017 and beyond.
If you would like to stay up-to-date with our news on a more regular basis, please like our Facebook page.
We would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season and look forward to communicating and working with you again next year.
Project update – October
Off the back of the community drop-in-sessions we held at the end of August, we are pleased to be able to release the report that documents the feedback we received from the community.
The sessions were designed to build on the previous neighbourhood drop-in sessions held in September 2015.
174 people attended the two sessions at Evatt and Gold Creek with a variety of comments and questions raised by attendees.
In response to our four themed stations at the drop-in sessions, comments and questions provided on feedback forms included:
- Housing – 24 comments/questions.
- Community Facilities – 21 comments/ questions.
- Conservation – 19 comments/ questions.
- Roads and Transport – 8 comments/ questions
Further topics commented on through the feedback forms were:
- CSIRO’s consultation with the community – 5 comments/ questions
- Impact of urban development on residents of neighbouring suburbs – 4 comments/ questions
- CSIRO’s role in development at the Ginninderra Field Station site – 3 comments/ questions
- Other: International design competition (1 comment); Impact of development at Ginninderra on ACT electoral boundaries (1 question)
CSIRO is committed to taking on board the comments received in future planning and design processes.
We have updated the FAQ’s section of our website to answer all the questions that were asked by the community at both the drop-in-sessions, along with the continued questions we are receiving through the website and on Facebook.
We are continuing to meet with interested groups and organisations to discuss the project, and have been invited to present at the Belconnen Community Council meeting on Tuesday 18 October.
If you would like to discuss the community engagement report or any other aspect of the project with us, we invite you to contact us by either completing a feedback form, emailing the project team or engaging with us through our Facebook page.
CSIRO-developed tech for energy-smart homes
Combining solar panels and batteries with smart technology, the system continuously analyses and optimises home energy use.
The system chooses the most efficient source for the household’s electricity supply at any given time, switching from solar to stored power as required.
The system looks at the power consumption patterns of each household and local weather to make smart decisions that reduce energy costs.
The system is remotely managed by Evergen and regularly analysed and updated by CSIRO.
CSIRO Energy Director Dr Peter Mayfield is excited to see this CSIRO-developed technology available in Australian homes.
“CSIRO has been at the forefront of solar and battery technology research for many years, and we are committed to the development of intelligent systems and tools which change the way we use energy,” Dr Mayfield said.
“We know that consumers are viewing their household electricity differently and taking more control; intelligent systems allow them to do this with ease.”
Evergen Chairman Stephen Dunne said the system is the gateway to energy-smart homes of the future.
“We’re excited to be taking the science of CSIRO and building it in to an energy system that will benefit families all over Australia,” Mr Dunne said.
CSIRO developed Evergen’s core energy management intelligence and provided research expertise to help Evergen commercialise the product.
The Evergen system is now available to Australians in an early release program, with a second-stage release program in January 2017.
For ACT residents
Evergen was one of eight winners of the ACT Government’s second round of its battery storage auction, part of a nation-leading plan to deploy 36 MW of cutting edge distributed battery storage in more than 5,000 Territory homes and businesses by 2020. ACT residents can save between $3,000-5,000 off the cost of an Evergen System (depending on system size) as part of this next generation ACT Government initiative. As the total subsidy pool is limited, ACT residents will gain access on a first-in basis.
CSIRO has a well established reputation for developing new technologies and partnering with industry to bring innovation to the community. Ginninderra provides an opportunity for this sort of technology and innovation to be practically applied through such collaboration.
Drone’s-eye view of Ginninderra
Spectacular new aerial footage of Ginninderra captured from a drone will be on display for those attending the community drop-in sessions at Evatt and Gold Creek later this month.
A drone’s-eye view of the 701-hectare CSIRO property has been captured from a series of locations using both 4k and 360 degree cameras mounted underneath a remotely piloted drone.
The drone aerial survey led by a team from CSIRO Land and Water and Data61 has produced some stunning footage that CSIRO can use as a visual record and basis for further planning and modelling of development and conservation at the site.
“The cameras capture high resolution imagery of the property, providing not only a descriptive or educational resource but a contextual backdrop into which we can situate a 3D visual model and planning tool,” according to Data61 Experimental Scientist, Matt Adcock.
“A 3D visual model could provide the ability to ‘move’ through the terrain to view and receive community feedback on different types of development, infrastructure and conservation scenarios in the context of the surrounding landscape,” he said.
While it is early days in terms of planning future development, the drone footage will help in understanding the landscape, planning for the future and in being able to show changes over time.
A package of the available drone footage will be on display for participants at the community drop-in sessions on 25 August at Evatt Scout Hall (3-6:30pm) and 27 August at The Abbey at Gold Creek (12-4pm).
Protecting the Little Eagle
CSIRO is keen to continue to work with government, conservation groups and raptor experts to share knowledge and build greater scientific understanding and protection of the Little Eagle.
The Little Eagle, which is native to Australia and tends to inhabit open woodland, grassland and arid regions, is listed as a vulnerable species in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.
The first sighting of a Little Eagle flying over the northern part of the Ginninderra property occurred in December 2013.
As part of the proposed future sustainable urban development at Ginninderra, CSIRO is committed to the highest standard of environmental management extending well beyond legislative requirements for protecting threatened species and ecosystems.
Our best-practice environmental management includes comprehensive ecological surveys and ongoing collaboration with local conservation groups and experts to conserve important species and ecosystems.
During ecological field surveys over the spring-summer 2014, a successful breeding event for the Little Eagle was recorded. The nesting site was located in a mature scribbly gum, in a patch of woodland dominated by this species. As a result of this finding, CSIRO sought additional specialist ornithological advice to identify management recommendations that would help to ensure viability of the breeding habitat within the nesting site and surrounding foraging areas of open woodland.
The following recommendations were implemented:
- Avoid visiting the Little Eagle nest site during incubation and nesting phases, especially if the adult birds are seen circling or perched. Human visitation on foot appears to disturb birds and could cause nesting failure.
- No removal of live or dead trees, especially large older trees which provide nesting habitat.
- No removal of logs, woody debris and other dead wood derived from native species for firewood or fire control. These areas increase habitat provisions including species which are preyed upon by the Little Eagle.
Drawing on experiences from other urban developments, CSIRO sought further advice as to what additional information was required about the pair and their requirements during the critical breeding season. This revealed it is important to determine if the nest is used regularly, or at least during the next breeding season. It is also critical to understand the extent of the foraging area during the breeding season that is required to maintain the nesting pair.
Researchers will require regular access to the site for monitoring, and regular liaison and information sharing should occur between the CSIRO, raptor experts and ACT Government Conservation Planning and Research (CPR) Group.
These recommendations were implemented and CSIRO’s project team engaged with the ACTCPR Group and raptor experts to further research the Little Eagle to determine its movements in relation to the site.
In consultation with ACT CPR Group, the CSIRO purchased two specialist satellite tracking devices from the USA with the objective of capturing the Little Eagle pair, in accordance with ethics requirements, and tracking their foraging range through GPS readings.
While the Little Eagle can return to the same nesting location in subsequent years, they often utilise a range of nesting locations within their home range in different years.
As the Little Eagle pair was not found at the Ginninderra nest site in 2015, the tracking devices were not able to be deployed.
In 2015, the ACT Government successfully captured and tracked a male Little Eagle from a nesting event in Strathnairn (West Belconnen), one of only two recorded nesting events in the ACT in 2015 (the other being at Campbell Park). CSIRO is working with the West Belconnen project to ensure a consistent approach to the active conservation management of this species.
CSIRO is also keen to continue to work closely with the ACT CPR Group and raptor experts in regard to the Little Eagle.
While the breeding pair has not been recorded at the nesting site since 2014, CSIRO is committed to providing best-practice management of identified Little Eagle habitat. This includes establishing buffer zones around the nesting site to protect and manage Little Eagle foraging habitat. Overall CSIRO has identified 19 % of the property for legislative protection of endangered species and a further 12% for additional protection and buffer zones.
As with the West Belconnen development an exclusion area will be established around the nesting site, with no development to occur in this part of the property until research on foraging habitat is completed and taken into account.
Site tour leads the conservation conversation
The conservation conversation was front and centre as members and experts from ACT environmental groups visited CSIRO’s Ginninderra Property on 6 June.
The question of: “How can we conserve and restore important environmental features within and beyond the boundaries of a proposed future urban development?” was top of mind as the group visited nine key sites across the property.
CSIRO researchers and expert consultants explained the findings of ecological surveys and their interpretation of key environmental features on the site, while also seeking initial advice and ideas from participants who included members from the Conservation Council ACT Region and its Biodiversity Working Group, Friends of Grasslands and the Ginninderra Catchment Group.
Throughout the tour, participants studied maps of the Ginninderra property showing CSIRO’s initial assessment of developable land (360.8 ha or 51% of the site), potential developable areas under review (129.4 ha, 18%), areas primarily protected by current legislation (130.9 ha, 19%) as well as additional areas CSIRO has set aside to protect conservation and heritage values (80.5 ha, 12%).
Some of the key features for mandatory protection are:
- high value Box Gum Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands on the north of the site
- areas of Derived Native Grasslands where studies have recorded the presence of Golden Sun Moth and Striped Legless Lizard
- a Box Gum Grassy Woodland and Scribbly Gum Woodland area surrounding a nesting site of the Little Eagle
- an area of Box Gum Grassy Woodland adjacent to Owen Dixon Drive
- regulated trees and cultural heritage features
Other areas or features earmarked by CSIRO for protection include:
- the corridor (riparian zone) along Halls Creek and drainage lines
- areas of Scribbly Gum Woodland and Box Gum Grassy Woodlands that contribute important environmental values but are not technically protected under legislation
- important buffer zones and areas that add habitat and wildlife connectivity to protected areas, both on the site and in adjacent areas
Some important questions raised on the site visit included the need to define the boundaries for conservation areas and clarify the buffer and transition zones between areas under development and those under conservation. Road access within and to the site will also be an important factor in realising conservation goals.
Establishing sound principles for conservation and development from the outset was seen to be an essential ingredient for success.
So, coming back to the question: “How can such conservation and even restoration be successful in close proximity to an urban development?’” Based on early advice from conservation experts – it won’t happen by accident – but rather through diligent assessments, and applying clear principles and careful planning and implementation.
CSIRO is keen to do exactly that and to develop principles and plans with experts and the broader community through a participatory planning process.
The next steps are to further develop these conservation principles with the same groups through a workshop in late June and to follow that up with some broader community engagement in July.
The environmental principles and plans will then form part of the briefs for the eventual joint venture development partners selected by CSIRO.