Research of the CAUL Hub: Liveable Urban Systems from CAUL on Vimeo.

Photo: City of Melbourne

CAUL Hub Project 4 – Improved Urban Systems for Liveability

Project Leader – Professor Jago Dodson, RMIT University

Project Summary

This project investigates how major cities function and the effects of their land-use, housing and infrastructure systems on the humans that live in them. The main urban systems underpinning liveability include transport networks, green space and housing and the interconnections between them. The project aims to better understand how these systems combine to affect liveability and how decision-making in city planning, management and development can be better informed to improve outcomes in these areas. The research will examine how the integration of urban systems can be optimised in inner, middle and outer or peri-urban areas of cities to create greener more walkable and sustainable neighbourhoods, and wider urban regions, that enable urban residents to have access to nature, produce cleaner air, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase active transportation, reduce chronic disease and facilitate climate change adaptation.


The research comprises four interconnected sub-projects:

  1. Transport Futures
  2. Land-use and Greening
  3. Liveability
  4. Indoor Air Quality

Subproject 4.1–Transport emissions futures

This subproject will undertake a five-part program to address the problem of making transport futures in Australian cities. The 5 project parts are:

Part 1 Modelling and data review

This literature review aims for an understanding of the current status of vehicular emission modelling practice and data available for this purpose in Australia. A discussion on emerging technologies for traffic and transport survey that could provide more temporally and spatially resolved data for emission modelling purposes will also be included.

Part 2: Integrated transport and emissions modelling

This part will look into the application of a transport microsimulation framework that integrates the two modelling paradigms, transportation systems modelling and vehicle systems modelling. This integrated framework will help quantify the characteristics of the traffic on a transport network and the vehicular energy consumption by such traffic.

Part 3: Land-use and vehicle emissions relationships

This part will investigate the land-use dimensions of transport emissions by understanding the contribution of urban form and structure and identify how various land-use planning approaches can produce lower or higher emissions profiles.

Part 4: Socio-economic consequences of vehicle fleet emissions

This will investigate how emissions profiles of the motor vehicle fleet at local scales is linked to socio-economic patterns. This will contribute insights into how scenarios for emissions reduction impact on household capacity to adopt new technology or use alternative transport modes.

Part 5: Policy directions

This part will investigate the national level policy directions needed to improve the emissions performance of urban motor vehicle fleets and of urban transport systems more generally within the context of wider existing and emerging policy imperatives related to this concern, including the identification of key objectives, barriers and pathways.

Subproject 4.2– Making greening happen in consolidating cities

This subproject will address the research problem of making urban greening happen in consolidating cities. The project comprises 5 parts:

Part 1: Review

The review will identify and describe existing strategies and policies (particularly land-use policy) relevant to urban greening, and identify and map key actor groups in protecting and enhancing urban greening.

Part 2: Urban land-use and greening data set review and assembly

This part will report on data gaps with respect to urban greenery, with a focus on urban forest canopy cover and make recommendations for future primary data collection.

Part 3: Analysing the relationship between urban greenery, existing land-use, land ownership, and the underlying land-use policy settings.

This part will investigate the relationship between urban forest canopy cover, existing land-use, land ownership, and the underlying land-use policy settings. It will include strategic and tactical opportunities and constraints on the protection of exiting greenery and the potential for providing increased greening, stemming from these relationships.

Part 4: ‘Making greening happen’- targets and tools.

This part will develop and pilot scenario testing tools for land-use planning and development to aid urban greening, including tools to enable evaluation of different urban development pathways; different green infrastructure deployment options; and different land-use and green infrastructure policy settings.

Subproject 4.3 – Liveability

This subproject will review policies to assess the extent to which they support key aspects of liveability, provide national indicators of whether liveability is being achieved, identify policy enablers and barriers to creating liveable cities, and provide policy recommendations for how to create liveable cities recognising different needs within and between Australian cities. This sub-project will be conducted in four parts.

Part 1: Policy review (Year 1)

Local, state, and federal urban planning policies and legislation will be reviewed to assess the extent to which they support key aspects of liveability, such as employment access; housing diversity, density and affordability; green space provision and access; public transport provision and access, and walkability. The coherence and consistency between local, state, and federal government policies related to liveability will be assessed.

Part 2: Benchmarking and visualising liveability in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney

Spatial indicators will be created using national data for the following urban systems: employment access; housing diversity, density and affordability; green space provision and access; public transport access, and walkability. This work will provide benchmarks for how these cities are delivering their infrastructure policies for selected urban systems on the ground.

Part 3: Stakeholder Interviews / focus groups

Stakeholder interviews or focus groups will be conducted with a range of government policymakers to identify institutional, policy and governance barriers or challenges to liveability-promoting integrated planning. These will be designed to elicit data on the implications of the barriers and challenges identified for creating liveable neighbourhoods and cities, and develop solutions for overcoming them.

Part 4: Development of detailed research program for Years 3-5

After these parts of the project are completed, future research will be developed around emerging questions and gaps in knowledge.

Subproject 4.4 – Indoor Air Quality

The aims of this research project are to (1) identify, and prioritise the primary sources of indoor air pollutants; (2) compare pollutants indoors versus outdoors, and assess relative risks; (3) investigate pollutant emissions and exposures from sources indoors; and (4) develop pollutant exposure reduction strategies. The first task is to characterize the indoor air quality across a range of indoor environments. Previous research shows building age is a major determinant so sampling will occur throughout a range of building ages and types. Next we will identify key sources and budgets of problematic compounds. Finally we will apply the exposure and health metrics defined in project 1 to compare the health impacts of indoor and outdoor air quality.

Expected Outcomes


Outcomes from this project include: specification of policy pathways to reduce transport emissions; quantification of potential to increase green space and policy pathways to achieve it; options for how urban systems can be harnessed to improve health, well-being and liveability; and policy proposals to improve indoor air quality.

Specific management or policy outcomes

This project will provide for policy-makers the evidence base for policies to reduce transport emissions, identification of policy pathways towards increased urban greening, and information on best-practice planning for climate change adaptation of cities.


This project will improve infrastructure planning, and environmental status from increased urban greening.

Further details can be read in the public version of the CAUL Hub Research Plan. Return to the overview of CAUL Hub research projects.