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The latest happenings in the Melbourne property market. For our Essays and The Secret Agent Report, see our Research page.


Category Archives For: Environment and Green Tech

The Secret Agent Report – Cool Homes

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

Heat waves, for many years no more than an inconvenience for most people, seem undeniably to be increasing in frequency and impact. In particular, the risk of adverse effects or mortality from heat exposure in sensitive demographics such as the elderly, the young and the economically disadvantaged mean that heat is steadily becoming a more a significant problem from a range of perspectives. 

In the modern world, air conditioning is relied upon to cool our homes and offices. It keeps us comfortable on those very hot days and we have become accustomed to employing it even on milder days. Air conditioning is a luxury that is used thoughtlessly by many. It may do the job of keeping us cool in the immediate and medium terms but its effectiveness as a long-term solution clearly has limits.

This issue of The Secret Agent Report will look into the problems around air conditioning from an environmental, societal and behavioural perspective. We will also bring to light a variety of other cooling methods that should be considered as an alternative to air conditioning usage. 

Access the Cool Homes report now!

 


The Secret Agent Report – Water Views

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

There’s certainly something about water that makes us feel good, both physically and mentally, but how does water relate to real estate? What part does water play in determining the perceived value and the actual price paid for a property?

In this report, Secret Agent will discuss water and the value it can add to property.

Access the Water Views report now!

 


The Secret Agent Report – Natural Light

More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of the building.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

Natural light in our homes connects us to nature. In our increasingly built up cities and suburbs, lack of natural light is becoming more of a problem. This is compounded by the fact that people generally spend more time indoors and less time in natural settings exposed to sunlight.

This month, Secret Agent discusses why and how natural light in our built spaces is critical for our own health and wellbeing.

Access the Natural Light report now!

 


The Secret Agent Report – Walkability and Greenery

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report.

Secret Agent has intensively investigated the impact that location and environment has on property value in the past.

In this report we summarise our research on two of the most important factors which influence what a good location is: walkability and greenery.

Access the Walkability and Greenery report now!

 


The Secret Agent Report – Digital Cities

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report.

The predominance of technology in our everyday life has rapidly increased over the past decade. From smartphones to smart homes, spearheaded by products like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are beginning to look like an unavoidable part of modern life.

The predominance of ICT is not solely confined to the personal sphere. Governments and companies are also responsible for an ever-expanding digital infrastructure, particularly in cities. This “digital skin” is made up of millions of sensors which create vast amounts of data on everything from consumer habits to traffic patterns.

In this report, Secret Agent offers an outline of the digitisation of cities, and what the implications of this might be for the future. We primarily draw on a 2014 paper by Chirag Rabari and Michael Storper, but also bring in research from elsewhere.

Access the Digital Cities report now!


The Secret Agent Report: Wildlife

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

There are various types of open space and not all of them are equal in terms of the value they provide. If you had to choose out of being close to Carlton cemetery versus Royal Park, which is only on the other side, most would choose Royal Park. Similarly, most would prefer to be next door to a vacant block full of neatly manicured plants compared to just a vacant block of land. Other than the obvious aesthetic differences, what else could make Royal Park more attractive to the cemetery?

Secret Agent has been pondering this question this month and has hypothesised that it is the wildlife and biodiversity that makes some of our open spaces within Melbourne so special. The more biodiversity, the more connected to nature we feel and the more we are willing to pay for property to be nearby this. It sounds like a far fetched idea but we are not the first to have thought of this. In fact it has been studied quantitatively in America.

This month, Secret Agent discusses wildlife and the potential impact it may have on property value.

Access the Wildlife report now!


Carlton North Homes Benefit from Bicycle Lanes

Drawing of a bicycle with a speech bubble containing a dollar sign next to it

Over 10,000 cyclists commute into Melbourne’s inner city every morning. Many popular routes are located along residential streets. Secret Agent wanted to find out if the presence of a bicycle lane had any impact on house sale prices within a suburb.  Read the full post


Sustainable Urban Landscapes

Sketch

Secret Agent recently reported on sustainability and looked at various ways sustainable features can be incorporated in the design of commercial or residential buildings. In this post, we take a look at sustainability from an urban planning perspective. Sustainability in the urban setting is about “finding new and better ways to achieve the same or better functionality, new materials and new technologies” as demonstrated in the following emerging trends.

Read the full post


Orientation and Your Home

Click here to download Secret Agent’s orientation guide

This week, we’ve put together a short guide to help you maximise the benefits of passive design solutions by understanding orientation in your home. With a particular focus on light and wind, we break down each aspect and offer suggestions for a more environmentally friendly and comfortable home.

North

  • Mornings generally receive Northerly winds from the inland due to land breeze. During winter this is the dominant source of wind. In summer, Northerly winds can be quite hot.
  • Direct sunlight and an excellent source of passive heating.
  • Necessary to use shading methods, such as planting deciduous trees (which permit low-angle Winter sun through) or installing eaves and blinds.
  • Suitable for daytime, living and dining rooms or courtyards.
  • Ideal orientation of the home with the long side facing North, or 20-30° off from the center.

West

  • Be wary of hot Northwesterly winds in summer and cold Southwesterly winds in the cooler months.
  • Evening sun can be quite harsh and hot in summer.
  • Option to strategically plant trees and shrub to divert undesirable winds and provide shading in the evening.
  • Alternative is to place utility areas facing West (e.g. laundry, bathrooms, storage) which insulate and shade living areas.

East

  • Little to no Easterly wind all year round. Design should promote cross-ventilation from other rooms.
  • Direction of sunrise and cool morning light.
  • Suitable for kitchens, breakfast rooms or bedrooms, as morning light is beneficial to regulate our circadian rhythm (natural body clock).

South

  • Evenings generally receive Southerly winds from the ocean due to the sea breeze effect. Southwesterly winds in the cooler months can be quite harsh.
  • Indirect light, therefore requires little to no shading. Borrowed light methods include use of skylights or reflections off neighbouring buildings.
  • Should be properly insulated as there are minimal passive heating options. Active heating may also be necessary.
  • Suitable for bedrooms or artist studios, as South light produces cool and controlled colour values.