Sydney Suburb Takes Stand Against Climate Change By Requiring A Tree In Every Yard

Wilton, a rapidly-growing suburb of Sydney, Australia, has announced new measures to combat the “heat island” effect and rising temperatures from climate change.

“Wilton is situated in a beautiful part of south-western Sydney which is why it’s experiencing growth – people want to live here,” Nathaniel Smith of the NSW government said in a press release.

As thousands of new homes are built to address this demand, the government is proactively seeking to build “resilient” communities through new regulations and urban planning.

PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / WALKING MELBOURNE

“Wilton will change the face of development in the Macarthur, with improved standards for backyard sizes to facilitate trees, front gardens and lighter colour palettes to help reduce the urban heat island effect,” said Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, said in the press release.

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What this means is that roofing, which is typically dark grey or black in Sydney, will be required to be a lighter color. Newly built homes must also meet higher requirements for space to house a tree in both the front and back yards.

Photo: PXHERE

By making these small, mostly aesthetic changes, the Wilton area hopes to reduce the already blisteringly hot summer temperatures that it regularly receives (often over 120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Lighter-colored roofing will absorb less heat from the sun, meaning that electricity bills will be lower for residents seeking to cool their homes, and the local area will have more equitable heat distribution instead of “heat islands” where blacktop and roofing radiate heat even at night.

PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / LINDSAYBRIDGE

This is the same reasoning for the tree requirement in each yard, as well. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that experts estimate “cool roofs” could decrease energy consumption by nearly 50%.

Unsurprisingly, one developer is bristling at these new regulations. “It will result in bureaucratically imposed blandness for new communities,” said developer Stephen McMahon, NSW branch president of the Urban Development Institute of Australia in an interview with the Herald. McMahon is confident that as a suburban developer, he can handle making things bland without government oversight.

Photo: Pixabay/Paul Brennan

Still, the new requirements have been widely embraced and demonstrate the many ways that communities can combat not only climate change but problems that have gone unaddressed for decades.

Learn more about the new initiative here!

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