De-prioritising the car - how sustainable living is growing in australia

Designing the housing of the future will need to tackle issues around sustainability.

Residz Team 5 min read

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To thrive into the future we must live sustainably.

During the pandemic we glimpsed what this could look like. Few cars on the road, people out walking, neighbours sharing resources, and almost no plane trips.  

Once things returned to “normal”, however, we got back into our (mostly) fossil-fuelled vehicles and booked travel.

In this brief article we’ll look at electric cars, but also the trend towards “de-prioritising the car” as part of a holistic solution for sustainable living.

We’ll explore the rise of housing options that promote this, and the growing popularity of e-bikes in Australia.

A mindshift is underway

According to the Bicycle Network, Australia has one of the worst records for transport-related emissions (more than 17.6% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions even in 2020).

But, there is a noticeable shift in our appetite for eco-friendly living and travel. According to the Guardian, electric vehicles accounted for 3.8% of all new vehicle sales in Australia in 2022.

And notes Volkswagon predicts sales of its electric cars in Australia will outpace petrol and diesel vehicles within five years, by 2028.

As well, e-bikes are increasing in popularity. According to, Australia's e-bike market was valued at USD 16.9 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 55.6 million by 2027.

4 tenets of sustainable living

According to Conserve Energy Future, sustainable living is based on four main pillars:

Housing humans is a big contributor to waste. According to the NSW EPA, the construction and demolition (C&D) waste stream accounted for the largest proportion of both waste generated and waste recycled in 2019–20: 12.5 million tonnes of C&D waste were generated, of which 9.6 million tonnes were recycled.

Moving humans around can also be an unwise use of the Earth’s natural resources, as burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. For this reason, Green Travel Plans (GTPs) outlining alternative transport options are often requested by councils from developers.

As you’ll see below, the housing of the future could go a long way to tackling issues around sustainability.

A revolution in housing

One organisation that “recognises we’re in a climate emergency” is developer Nightingale Housing. It commits to delivering only all-electric, fossil fuel-free homes and commercial spaces.

Nightingale reduces waste in the demolition and building stages, and takes out things like second bathrooms, individual laundries, and individual car parking.

It’s all about promoting community and de-prioritising the car.

“That’s why we locate buildings in well-appointed urban areas, accessible by public transport, cycling routes, car-share and other local amenities,” Nightingale says on its website.

And, apartments feature double glazing, excellent insulation and 100% certified GreenPower.

Then there’s the Watermark Living and Partner retirement living development in Chatswood, NSW, with its claim that residents will never receive a power bill, thanks to solar panels generating all the necessary electricity.

According to, Watermark residents will have access to electric car sharing and charging stations, promoting the disposal of a second car and the transition to a hybrid or electric vehicles.

Reducing car dependency in rural areas

With Aussies increasingly choosing rural and regional living, it’s sobering to read the 2021 report from the UK on how dependent people are on private vehicles in rural and regional areas.

The “Future of Transport Outside Cities” report found that shire counties (outside major cities) accounted for 74% of the UK’s transport emissions.

According to the Bicycle Network, in Victoria, private vehicles are used for 83% of trips in regional cities, compared to just 56% of trips in the inner Melbourne metropolitan area.

It says the report makes the following recommendations for reducing private car dependency in rural areas:

Electric vehicles preferred but costly

In a 2022 survey by car insurance comparison website Compare the Market, 50.8% of Australians said they would prefer an electric car, however 66.6% said price was the main barrier.

The survey of 2,500 adults across Australia, America, and Canada found:

Of course, electric cars are only sustainable if they use green power. The City of Melbourne has reportedly estimated that based on current ownership, if all cars were electric, the average household would consume 84% more electricity.

E-bikes the future transport solution?

So, are relatively affordable e-bikes part of the solution?

An e-bike works much like a traditional bicycle, with pedals that the rider must manually operate in order to turn the wheels. However, additional power is supplied by a battery-powered motor.

E-bikes are part of an industry called “micro-mobility” - lightweight vehicles that are specifically designed for individual use. According to electric bike blog Moov8 these vehicles include:

Moov8 says the goal of micro-mobility is to replace short-distance car trips between 1 km to 15 km to avoid traffic, extend public transport, and to reduce congestion and pollution.

“According to the research by Wired, 1 kilowatt-hour of energy can only get a gasoline-powered car to travel 1.3 km, electric cars travel up to 6.5 km while an electric scooter can travel 133 km,” it says.

It’s obvious that micro-mobility transport will need to be part of our future if we are serious about reducing greenhouse gases.


How we live and how we move around where we live are big considerations for us as individuals and as a society so we can ensure a sustainable future.

More than ever before we have choices in what we drive in or ride on, and what type of housing we choose. Deciding to live in a “green” building near public transport, or to opt for an electric vehicle, will require small changes to our ways of life, but - at a population level - make enormous changes to the cleanliness, health, and sustainability of our planet.  

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