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

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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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.

The Secret Agent Report – Sustainability

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report! To kick off 2016, we look at sustainability and its relationship to property. Whether you are purchasing an existing house or building from ground up, there are several ways you can make your new home more sustainable.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Sustainability report now!

Sustainability Report

The Secret Agent Report – Motherhood

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report! This month, we revisit the subject of health in the living environment, but with a particular focus on expectant mothers and newborns. As the harm from toxins and chemicals is amplified on our young, choosing a new family home must be carefully considered.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Motherhood report now!

Motherhood Report

The Secret Agent Report – Healthy Environments

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report! This month, we take a look at the unseen hazards in our internal living environments, and suggest ways to look out for these in your next home.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Healthy Environments Report now!

Healthy Environments Report


Urban Forest Visual – City of Melbourne

On our research travels, Secret Agent came across the newly released ‘Urban Forest Visual’. The City of Melbourne have mapped out all of the street trees in selected inner city suburbs. Shape indicates species, while colour gives an idea of the age of the tree.

Urban Forest Visual - City Of Melbourne

The Urban Forest Visual allows the user to find out more about the trees in their area, and could potentially have an effect on the worth of a streets properties. Eventually a streets trees may need to be removed and replanted, and the sought after effect of vegetation we have just analysed in our latest resesarch, may be absent for a decade while regrowing. For those looking to purchase for the long term, this is very helpful information.

See for the full map, and more information about the initiative.

The Value of Vegetation – The Secret Agent Report

Location, style and condition. These are often the first things prospective buyers consider when purchasing a house. In a competitive market it is the less obvious features that may be even more important to take notice of.

This report takes an in depth look into how median strips, front gardens and vegetation affect property prices based on 2100 housing sales in 2012.

Click here or below to download your copy of the report.

The Secret Agent Report July 2013

Warming Up The Nest

From the team at Apple that brought you the iPod and the iPhone comes the latest innovation to astound the technology world:

A thermostat!

(Wait, did he say a thermo…)

Yes, a thermostat!

Looking at The Nest Learning Thermostat (NLT for short), I initially wondered why I should even look into what seemed like another iteration of a common household appliance.

Then, they blew me away.

The Nest website really does explain everything to you in a nutshell: their new thermostat is a nifty piece of AI, learning what temperatures are your favourite (over a week, needing this ‘training’ seasonally), when you are out of the house and even what time you wake up so it can switch itself on.

What is fascinating is that the NLT functions using Nest Sense, so when you are out it switches itself off or adjusts to save energy consumption in the house (unlike traditional ones, or the new fangled ones which are impossible to use), of which 50% comes from that small thermostat stuck on your wall (fridges apparently only take up a measly 8% in comparison, go figure). It even has adjusted controls to allow for accelerated or decelerated heating/cooling and the Nest Leaf energy saver indicator can in turn educate you on how to best save energy, since a one degree change in temperature can save up to 5% on your energy bill if implemented in the long run!

Like the famous iProducts, Nest founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers have designed the NLT to be avant-garde not only in it’s software but with it’s hardware too, with a ‘chameleon design (that) blends into any wall (by) reflect(ing) any colour’. And what is a new device from the team that brought you the iPod and iPhone without an app to control it remotely?

With the claims on climate change finally ‘substantiated’ in only the more recent years, the world has suddenly gone into a green kick, especially in Australia where Aussie households now have to foot a carbon tax, whether or not you support it. The Nest Team posit that, if ‘taught’ properly, the NLT could save you $173 off your energy bill per annum, which means the tech will effectively ‘pay for itself’ in 17 months.

The NLT: A slice of the future in green technology today, not only saving money but the planet as well as by reducing your carbon footprint, all whilst looking good at the same time. And for all you Melbournians, it should provide a nice, constant micro-climate to come home to, no matter the weather outside.


(For further information, please check out the following videos or the Nest website at Secret Agent is not affiliated or paid to endorse the NLT and only gives it’s fair and honest opinion)