Melbourne held a Sustainable Living Festival 15 to 17 February 2008. I arrived a few minutes before it was due to close and had a look around as the displays were dismantled. Most prominent were the electric cars.
There was a Hyundai Getz converted to battery power by Blade Electric Vehicles (BEV). This looked very much like Shaun Williams' Electric Echo, even having the electrical outlet under the petrol filler cap. BEV's Getz conversion was claimed to have a range of 100 to 150 km, with a battery life of eight years. So presumably it was not using the lead acid batteries of the Electric Echo (which had only about a 40 km range). In reality town car only needs a range of 40 km to be practical, but a longer range is needed to convince a petrol car owner to change over.
Two solar cell ultra light weight streamlined cars were also displayed. These were not practical road cars, like the Getz, but built for solar races.
HRV Australia dispalyed their solar home heating system. This is different to other systems in that it filters and draws down hot air from the roof cavity of the house, using the existing roof as a solar collector. This approach has some merits but HRV make excessive claims for the system, including that it will remove toxic gasses and radon gas from the air. Even if the system includes a particle filter, such a filter will not be able to remove gases, only particles. It will therefore be ineffective in removing toxic gasses.
Unfortunately the festival suffered from being in the poorly designed Federation Square. This vast expanse of unshaded, undulating, uneven cobblestones is uncomfortable to stand in and difficult and dangerous to walk on. The Melbourne City Council should level and resurface the square, adding some shade. Whoever designed this should not be in the business of landscape architecture.
One pleasant discovery was that beyond the awful federation square, there is a pleasant shaded riverbank walk called "Northbank Promenade" and "Yarra Walk", part of the Yarra River Trail. This looks out on the Yarra River, with the opposite riverbank lined with rowing club buildings and the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. There is the very comfortable looking Pub and a bridge to the tennis and football stadia.
There was also an "EchoEdge 2 " conference "Critical designs challenges in building sustainable cities" on in conjunction with the festival. Unfortunately I was unable to find any papers or presentations from the conference online.