Ginninderra Project Team – Staff spotlight on Simon Toze

Simon Toze has been a leader within CSIRO’s urban based research for more than a decade and currently plays an important role within the Ginninderra Project Team as a Principal Senior Research Scientist.

Joining CSIRO in 1992 as a Postdoctoral Fellow to work on the remediation of contaminated environments, Simon is internationally recognised for his research on the reuse of water in urban environments.

His current principal research focus is on the reuse of water in urban environments, in particular involving Indirect Potable Reuse and Managed Aquifer Recharge; as well as studying the presence and attenuation of microbial and chemical contaminants in reservoirs, urban stormwater and roof harvested rainwater. He has a range of research interests which include studying the fate and behaviour of microbial pathogens in the environment; the influence of groundwater microorganisms on the biogeochemistry of aquifers; and the development of rapid and accurate molecular based methods for the tracking, detection and enumeration of viable microbial pathogens in environmental water samples.

As part of his role within the Ginninderra Project, Simon has been developing research into resilient urban systems to benefit Australian and international communities. More specifically, he has been looking into how to make the site become a model water-wise development which achieves a zero water-discharge. This requires new ways to reuse storm water, rain water and treated wastewater within the Ginninderra site. This captured water can then be used for urban greening, passive cooling and heating of buildings, protecting surrounding local waterways, and improving urban water efficiencies.

Simon believes the Ginninderra project can become an international benchmark for urban sustainability and liveability.

“With Ginninderra, we have the opportunity to produce an urban centre that is the standard for liveable, sustainable and resilient development in Australia and the world,” said Simon.

“The knowledge gained through studying and developing urban innovations at the Ginninderra site will be influential in directing the necessary changes Australia will need to make to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.”

Simon is also assisting in the setup of a CSIRO Urban Living Lab at the Ginninderra site which aims to assist industry and governments to test future technologies, social and environmental health initiatives, as well as environmental options.

Simon obtained his PhD in Environmental Microbiology from the University of Queensland in 1992 and is an Honorary Associate Professor with the University of Queensland School of Population Health.

How CSIRO science could shape Ginninderra’s future

During the community consultations CSIRO has conducted so far, we’ve been asked a number of questions about how CSIRO might continue to be involved in the Ginninderra site moving forward.

We are still early in the process of requesting the land be reclassified to urban, but we have already identified approximately 150 hectares of land that is to be kept aside for ecological values and open space.

Preserving green space and integrating this into the eventual design of the space is not the only way CSIRO will be involved in the project. We aim to continue our involvement in providing scientific, evidence-based recommendations for the site’s future development.

This could include a variety of recommendations – from shared spaces to help enhance the development of communities, to environmentally sustainable energy, water and building design. We hope that implementing cutting edge research at Ginninderra can provide a model and better understanding of urban environments that can be applied across Australia.

In order to understand whether these measures are effective, of course some monitoring would be required. This could take the form of sensors installed in energy or water systems, or surveys conducted with residents of the area. We view this as an opportunity to work collaboratively with the community, as we have done in our science for many years.

If they wished, households in the area could have the opportunity to contribute to a long-term science program with CSIRO to help collect data on energy use, water use, and liveability of the area. For example, contributing knowledge and information on energy and water use could help us use these resources more sustainably Australia-wide and even globally.

All CSIRO research involving people is bound by extensive ethical guidelines to ensure the welfare of participants, and is always voluntary. Read more about CSIRO’s Ethical Human Research Guidelines.

Trialling new urban design is not unique in Australia. The Gen Y Demonstration Housing Project in Western Australia is working closely with researchers on a four year project with Curtin University’s Cooperative Research Centre to test sustainable, affordable living options for the next generation of Australians. It incorporates aspects of sustainability and design through shared spaces to reduce both the environmental impact and cost of these houses.

Eco-living features will be incorporated into all aspects of the design, including: a climate responsive layout, lightweight and sustainable building design, solar power, water and energy monitoring to identify opportunities to improve efficiency, underground rainwater tanks and low water use landscaping. Read more about this project.

Any development at Ginninderra is still years away. When it comes time to start building, we’ll have more in-depth research to inform CSIRO’s own science.