Event overview

A consortium of government and leading built-environment industry bodies established the seminar series, Melbourne Forum, to focus on promoting sustainability in the commercial built environment. 

The Melbourne Forum is currently supported by Sustainability Victoria, Sustainable Building Innovation Laboratory (SBi Lab) – RMIT University, Melbourne School of Design – University of Melbourne, City of Melbourne, City West Water and AIRAH

Aims and objectives

The forums aim to increase the development and refurbishment of green commercial buildings in Victoria to achieve greater levels of sustainable performance. The forums demonstrate environmental leadership by each partner organisation, facilitating discussion and debate around sustainability in the built environment in Melbourne and, more broadly, Victoria. The series facilitate a unique space for leading practitioners and policymakers in the built-environment sector to come together and discuss sustainability issues, technologies and developments, as well as to share ideas and experiences.


The Melbourne Forum has been running since 2006, with the support of Sustainability Victoria, University of Melbourne, RMIT University, City West Water, City of Melbourne, and Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) among others.

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Upcoming Melbourne Forum

Melbourne Forum, May 21

Positive legacy developments

If we are to thrive into the future, humanity must address the social and ecological problems it has created. We need to find a way to live in the world so as to increase its capacity, not diminish it. The Melbourne Forum speakers all approach this idea from their own perspectives.

Bill Reed is a long-term practitioner of regenerative development, a process that has resulted in projects that have increased the vitality, viability and resilience of the larger ecosystems in which they exist. 

Lucinda Hartley has been working with communities to empower them to connect to their places and have ownership and love for them, resulting in more viable communities. 

And David Holmgren is a globally renowned author and educator in permaculture, which balances food production and ecological potential. His recent book RetroSuburbia brings these ideas into the suburban household and neighbourhood context.

: Monday, May 21.
: 5.30pm for a 6pm start. Presentations will finish at approximately 7.30pm, followed by networking drinks and finger food until 8.30pm.
: The Treasury Theatre, Lower Plaza, 1 Macarthur St, East Melbourne. Take the stairs next to the white umbrellas in the courtyard, down to the lower plaza. The theatre is on the left, under the stairs. 



Bill Reed,
Principal, Regenesis Group

Developing co-evolutionary relationships
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Developing co-evolutionary relationships

Healing the Earth is a process that embraces not just “nature” or the “life around us”; its energy and evolutionary power is integral to how we evolve and develop ourselves.
Reed will look at how, from a design perspective, every sheltering and agriculture project can be an acupuncture point for healing human-to-nature relationships – and human-to-human relationships. Reed insists the important point is not the project or task itself, but the process of developing co-evolutionary relationships.
This talk will consider life as a practice, and work as something that provides us with the opportunity to evolve.
Reed’s message is that massive change is possible when we enlarge the scope of practice.

Reed is an internationally recognised practitioner, teacher and authority in integrative systems design, sustainability, and regenerative community planning and implementation. Reed is a principal in Regenesis – an organisation working to lift human activities into full integration and evolution with living systems. His work centres on creating and implementing a whole and living-systems engagement and design process. This adds exponential value to the qualities of life within projects, communities and their ecosystem.

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Lucinda Hartley,
co-founder and CEO, CoDesign Studio

Shaping healthy liveable neighbourhoods in an era of loneliness
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Shaping healthy liveable neighbourhoods in an era of loneliness

Neighbourhoods are the places where we raise our families, spend our dollars and connect with neighbours. But how do we create healthy, liveable neighbourhoods at a time when one in three Australians don’t know their neighbour, and loneliness is as likely to kill you as smoking or heart disease (Grattan Institute, 2014)?
Hartley will unpack how simple placemaking strategies can improve walkability and liveability and build community – fast! Over the past five years, CoDesign has worked in more than 100 neighbourhoods, and is known for its innovative approach to rapidly improving places using tactical urbanism and participatory design.
Discussing key case studies that transform streets into parks or vacant lots into play spaces, Hartley will provide take-away lessons for strategies to make neighbourhoods and citizens healthier and more active.

Lucinda is an urban designer, social entrepreneur and one of Australia’s leading voices on community-led neighbourhood development. Named by The Age as one of Melbourne’s “Top 100” most influential people, she has spent the past decade pioneering new approaches to participatory design and placemaking. These have now been demonstrated in more than 100 neighbourhoods, and are recognised around the world. As co-founder of CoDesign Studio, a placemaking social enterprise, Lucinda launched Australia’s largest community-led placemaking program: The Neighbourhood Project. As co-founder of Neighbourlytics, she’s helping to build the world’s first social data analytics platform for neighbourhood development. This was recently selected for BlueChilli’s highly competitive SheStarts accelerator. Through both initiatives, she has pioneered creative approaches to help property developers and councils improve the social value of their projects.

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David Holmgren,
Holmgren Design

Permaculture in the suburbs
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Permaculture in the suburbs

Holmgren uses permaculture thinking to turn the so-called problem of suburbia into RetroSuburbia solutions by applying a retrofitting mindset to our homes, gardens, and most fundamentally our behaviours.
In his latest book, RetroSuburbia, Holmgren shows how Australian suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilient in an “energy descent future” – a future in which energy consumption decreases. He focuses on what can be done by individuals at the household level, rather than at the community or government levels.
Holmgren’s Melbourne Forum talk will explore how to live better with less, create abundance and provide the next generations with practical concepts and tools to thrive in an unfolding “energy descent future”.

Holmgren is best known as co-originator of the permaculture concept, his reputation made following the publication of Permaculture One in 1978. Globally recognised as a leading ecological thinker, teacher, respected writer and thought-provoking speaker, Holmgren promotes the permaculture lifestyle as a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism. In addition to continuing home and teaching involvements on the practical side of permaculture, Holmgren is passionate about philosophical and conceptual foundations for sustainability. These are highlighted in his writing and independent publishing. His writings over the past four decades span a diversity of subjects and issues, but always illuminate an aspect of permaculture thinking.

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Dominique Hes,
Director of the Thrive Research Hub at the University of Melbourne - Chair
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Past Melbourne Forums

Click here for more information about past Melbourne Forums.