CSIRO has partnered with developer Celestino to launch a new research initiative - the first operational Urban Living Lab, situated at the proposed $5 billion, 28-hectare Sydney Science Park in Western Sydney, and aims to drive the development, transformation and renewal of urban spaces.

The Lab will be a place where researchers, industry, government and communities can come together and create, design, and test innovative urban development concepts in the real world.

Assistant minister for science Craig Lundy said the partnership would deliver significant urban, environmental and innovative outcomes for the region and beyond.

"The Urban Living Lab initiative offers a new way for researchers, industry, community and Government to co-innovate and provide a place to address a range of challenges facing the urban sector," Laundy said.

Researchers will use this test environment to examine the connections between issues, such as urban greening, energy efficiency, demands for water, community well being and health, and the impacts of technological advancements.

The research will be utilised to answer questions around developing and renewing cities and urban spaces, while also coming up with solutions to planet-wide issues like population growth and climate change. 

According to acting land and water director at CSIRO Paul Bertsch, collaborative science initiatives such as the Urban Living Lab would enable cities to move towards a more sustainable future.

"By working with government and industry, our research will enable Australia's cities to become more economically, environmentally and socially resilient,"  Bertsch said.

Some of the research topics to be investigated are already under consideration, which include:

  • The impact of increased urban greening on local temperatures and ecology, changes in energy and water demand and consumption, and the influence on community well-being and health;
  • Smart water systems that can efficiently provide different classes of water for different uses on demand; and
  • The influence of digital disruptions and information technology advances on urban structure, industry development, and community connectivity.

Celestino CEO John Vassallo Celestino is thrilled to be partnering with CSIRO on this important initiative.

"We could see people creating new ways to harness solar energy in the workplace and developing novel ideas to store heat and keep homes cool," Celestino said.

"New sustainable transport solutions will also be encouraged, as well as inventions that conserve water and energy and drive down utility bills - the possibilities are endless. 

"Once developed, all of these technologies will be tested on the homes, businesses, shops, roads and parks of Sydney Science Park."

When completed, the Lab is expected to employ over 12,000 staff, educate 10,000 students in key scientific and technological disciplines and provide more than 3000 living accommodations.

Mayor of Penrith John Thain welcomed the new development, saying that the creation of the CSIRO Urban Living lab embodies the innovative and progressive direction Celestino have set for the Sydney Science Park.

"The Urban Living Lab fits with Council's vision to not just build Penrith as a city of the future, but to reap benefits for communities well beyond our own boundaries." 

The first buildings at the Sydney Science park are due to be operational by 2018.