UH/Lafarge Tarmac Partnership: Alasdair's diary  
                    The Centre for Sustainable Communities
UH/Lafarge Tarmac Partnership: Alasdair's diary
Diary of Dr Alasdair Jones, Sydney, Australia
update: 11th March 2013

I recently managed to attend an extremely pertinent seminar for the UH-Lafarge Sustainable Living Partnership study I'm working on, and the presentations from this event (as well as a podcast of the entire seminar) have just been made available online. The event was hosted by the 'Low Carbon Living CRC [Cooperative Research Centre].' This CRC is headquartered at my host institution in Australia (UNSW) and has the goal of developing "new social, technological and policy tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment."

The event was entitled 'Net Zero Carbon Housing' and brought together research and examples of this sustainable housing typology from Australia, Canada and Sweden. The seminar comprised fascinating talks from leading researcher's in each of these countries, including an opening presentation by Josef Ayoub (Operating Agent for the International Energy Agency's [IEA] 'Task' on 'Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings'). Through the use of case study examples (e.g. the masterplanned Drakes Landing Solar Community in Alberta, Canada) each presenter skillfully brought home to those present the scale of carbon emissions savings possible through the careful masterplanning of residential and mixed-use developments. The seminar materials have been made available and I would thoroughly recommend downloading them.

I can also report that I have re-commenced my interviews for the UH-Lafarge Sustainable Living Partnership study and am in the process of lining up further interviews.

update: 19th February 2013

I am now back in the CSC fold after an extremely fulfilling experience as a US-UK Fulbright Commission Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley - and looking forward to integrating the methodological approaches explored at Berkeley into the UH-Lafarge Sustainable Living Partnership research. My time at Berkeley was truly memorable and provided a fantastic opportunity for me to share ideas with scholars from a range of fields as well as gain invaluable cross-cultural insights into American life. I was particularly impressed with the array of esoteric research centres operating at UC Berkeley, including the Centre for Resource Efficient Communities who work to a similar model of research and outreach as ourselves.

I was also especially taken by American hospitality, and was even treated to a Burns night dinner by colleagues on account of my Scottish heritage! A thought-provoking commemorative talk by Professor James L.Taylor on the life and legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will also stick in my memory. The Fulbright experience is one that I would thoroughly recommend to any colleagues, and if you are interested in the various programmes and scholarships that the US-UK Fulbright Commission offer please see: http://www.fulbright.org.uk/.

At the end of my time in Berkeley I returned to my Visiting Fellow post at the City Futures research centre at the University of New South Wales. During my time here I will be re-commencing my sustainable living project fieldwork and making a start on the analysis of the interview data I collect.

Finally, since my last diary update I am very pleased to announce that I have had a paper accepted for publication in the journal Urban Geography which I expect to be published later this year.

update: 24th October 2012

Given the long period since my last update there are a number of exciting developments to announce in this instalment. First of all, on 10th October I was invited to give a presentation on my ongoing UH-Lafarge Tarmac 'Sustainable Living Partnership' study as part of the UNSW City Futures seminar series. The presentation, entitled "Sustainable by design, sustainable in practice? Comparing living practices in 'eco-developments'," was well-attended and prompted a lively debate about the tensions between sustainable design principles and the practice of everyday life in masterplanned developments.

I have also been meeting with key gatekeepers in the two case study developments selected for the Australian fieldwork component of my study, and through these meetings have been able to develop a deeper understanding of these developments. Moreover, these meetings have enabled me to contact residents directly and to begin to line-up interview-based data collection for the study.

Finally, I have had two co-authored journal articles accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. I anticipate that these will be published online shortly and once published will include links to the articles in subsequent updates.

update: 10th August 2012

A couple of items to update on this week. First of all, my opening think piece for the UH-Lafarge Tarmac 'sustainable living partnership' has now been published on the CSC website and can be accessed here. The piece discusses some of the key issues in the delivery and occupation of 'eco-developments' that frame my ongoing research project.

Secondly, I'm pleased to announce that I am co-organising, along with my colleague Dr Alina Congreve, a conference session at next year's Association of American Geographers conference (AAG 2013) to be held in Los Angeles, 9th-13th April 2013. The session is entitled 'Greener new residential developments' and we currently have a call for papers relating to this session (deadline for submission of abstracts: 21st September 2012). For more details about the conference session please feel free to contact me: a.jones23@herts.ac.uk

update: 13th July 2012

I am now back in Sydney for the second phase of my 'material cultures' study fieldwork for which data collection is due to start soon.

As well as start to re-work the case study selection for this fieldwork in light of some useful comments made at June\s Sustainable Living Partnership meeting, I have also been working on a number of other strands of work.

These include giving a presentation at the Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference (a really enjoyable conference that was held at Macquarie University), working on publications and undertaking some peer review for a journal myself.

A book review has been published in the Journal of Urbanism (Volume 5, Issue 2-3, pp.271-273.

update: 22nd June 2012

This has been a busy period for me, comprising a three-week visit back to the University of Hertfordshire to report on the first stages of my sustainable living project (see the first entry on this webpage) to the project steering group. This process generated some invaluable feedback on the progress of the project and in particular on how to improve the relevance of the project to private-sector housing developers, key players in the housing sector.

The visit also involved meeting with the US-UK Fulbright Commission for a briefing on the practicalities of my Fulbright Scholar Award to carry out some research at UC Berkeley next year. In addition, I was able to use my time in the UK to add my first entry to the CSC blog and to finalise an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

It's back to Sydney on Monday, and I very much look forward to getting started with collecting data for the sustainable living study.

update: 25th May 2012

This week has been primarily desk-based for Alasdair, who has been putting the finishing touches on his report on the case study selection process for the sustainable living study he is working on.

This has specifically involved generating a working bibliography for the study using Endnote, a task that will pay dividends when it comes to writing-up the study findings. Alasdair has also been developing the idea for a 'think piece' for the UH-Lafarge Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership, and this should be available on the CSC website in the next few weeks.

update: 18th May 2012

Welcome to the first instalment of a regular update from the UH-Lafarge Tarmac Research Fellow Dr Alasdair Jones, on what he's been up to during his fieldwork trip to Sydney. Alasdair's primary task at the moment is to finalise the selection of case studies for the his comparative study of living practices in eco-developments.

To this end, at the start of the week Alasdair had a meeting with staff from the NSW Department of Finance & Services to discuss their latest Environmental Sustainability Strategy update as well as the potential suitability of NSW Land and Housing Corporation residential developments to his study. With this meeting complete, Alasdair is now finalising a report on the case study selection process.

During the week, Alasdair also participated in a seminar on sustainability and the future of cities which was led by Professor Michael Neuman Professor of Sustainable Urbanism at Alasdair's host institution (UNSW's City Futures research centre).

CSC research goes global and journal article published

CSC's UH-Lafarge Tarmac Sustainable Living Partnership Research Fellow, Dr Alasdair Jones, has a couple of recent pieces of news to report. First, as part of the University's exciting partnership with Lafarge Tarmac, Alasdair has recently set off to Australia to commence fieldwork for a study of sustainable living practices.

The study, entitled 'Living in a material world: a cross-cultural investigation of sustainable communities,' involves the comparative analysis of qualitative data collected with residents of a selection of 'eco-developments' in the Sydney metropolitan area and the southeast of England. The study is exploring how far participants' everyday living practices reinforce or contradict the sustainability principles advocated in the design of their homes and neighbourhoods.

During his time in Australia, Alasdair is being hosted by the University of New South Wales', 'City Futures' research centre as a Visiting Fellow. Over the course of the study Alasdair will be issuing regular updates on his research activities by way of the UH-Lafarge Tarmac Partnership newsletter.

In other good news, Alasdair has recently had a first-authored article accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Health & Place. The article, entitled 'Rethinking passive transport: Bus fare exemptions and young people's wellbeing,' reports some of the findings of the NIHR-funded 'On the buses' study in which Alasdair was involved in his previous post at LSHTM. A full-text copy of the article can be accessed here.

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