Net Zero Precincts: an interdisciplinary approach to decarbonising cities

Net Zero Precincts: an interdisciplinary approach to decarbonising cities

By 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. From precinct level to major urban centres, our vision is to help create cities that use net zero energy, are resilient to climate change, and support diverse communities.

About this project

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Change Agreement, we need to transition our economies and cities to net zero emissions by 2050. It’s a transformation as big as the first industrial revolution. Achieving it will require collaboration and co-creation of knowledge between all sectors of society - governments, businesses, universities and communities.

Monash’s Net Zero Precincts Project will provide an exemplary demonstration project for transitioning our cities – one that can be replicated in other places and contexts around the world. This four year ARC Linkage project will develop and test a new interdisciplinary approach to help cities and urban regions reach net zero emissions. It will do this by taking the precinct as an optimal scale for urban transition.

Through our demonstration project, we’ll experiment, learn and test what works at a precinct scale.

A transformative approach

The project brings together two key areas of scholarship for the first time – transition management and design anthropology – to develop a new approach to transitioning cities to net zero. We’ll test our approach in an action-oriented case study using the Monash Clayton campus and Monash Technology Precinct. We’ll do this through a portfolio of Living Lab experiments in energy, mobility, buildings, local governance and data. Our aim is to validate an approach for net zero transitions that can deliver for the real-life experiences of the precinct community and its businesses, government, knowledge institutes and civil society. It can also provide significant benefits to industry seeking to enhance community engagement for accelerating urban transitions.

Net Zero Precincts is part of Monash’s Net Zero Initiative – a $135m program that is transforming Monash University’s four Australian campuses to become net zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2030. It includes a range of measures including energy efficiency upgrades, high-performing building facades, campus electrification, a 100% renewable electricity microgrid and 1 MWh of battery storage.

map of tech precinct

Through this project we aim to:

  • Understand the drivers and barriers that frame the precinct community’s experiences, expectations and visions of the precinct and net zero futures.

  • Co-create and envision collective and shared pathways to net zero precinct futures which are aligned with the precinct community’s everyday social, political and experiential realities and expectations.

  • Design and test a portfolio of Living Lab experiments (for net zero energy, mobility, buildings, governance and data) which are aligned with the precinct community’s shared future visions.

  • Develop a theoretical and methodological approach to net zero transitions, which proposes new modes of understanding and envisioning sustainable futures and brings a design anthropological approach to the sustainability transitions literature.

  • Develop a transferable step-by-step transition framework that will support the design and roll out of net zero precincts by industry and government in Australia and elsewhere.

Key people

professor rob ravenProfessor Rob Raven
Deputy Director (Research),
Monash Sustainable Development Institute

sarah pinkProfessor Sarah Pink
Emerging Technologies Research Lab

dr selby coxonAssociate Professor Selby Coxon
Mobility Design Lab

a/prof peter grahamAssociate Professor Peter Graham
Executive Director,
Global Buildings Performance Network

prof geoff webbProfessor Geoff Webb
Research Director,
Monash Data Futures Institute

dr darren sharpDr Darren Sharp
Senior Research Fellow,
Monash Sustainable Development Institute

dr emma quiltyDr Emma Quilty
Research Fellow,
Emerging Technologies Research Lab

a/prof megan farrellyAssociate Professor Megan Farrelly
Associate Professor,
Human Geography

prof ariel liebmanProfessor Ariel Liebman
Monash Energy Institute


Our team of researchers and practitioners bring together Monash University’s global expertise as a change agent in net zero transformation with global energy leaders, local government and communities and leading scientific expertise.


city of monash



energy efficiency council

city of greater dandenong


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