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Caitlin McGee


Caitlin's research focuses on the sustainable built environment, learning and cultural change. She has been at the forefront of several high profile projects in this area, including the award-winning ‘Your Home’ series of sustainable housing guides, a range of sustainability training for the building industry, the award-winning ‘Green Lease Guide’ for commercial tenants, and innovative policy research into the barriers to 'mainstreaming' sustainable development.
Caitlin works with the property sector on a range of applied research projects. She has assisted large property developers such as Mirvac, Leighton and the Barangaroo Development Authority to develop sustainability strategies for prominent urban sites, with a focus on achieving cutting-edge sustainability outcomes within commercial parameters. She has assisted clients with significant building portfolios such as the Australian Technology Park and the NSW Attorney General's Department to reduce their environmental impact and thereby improve the long-term viability of their business operations. Caitlin also developed the content for Investa Property’s ‘Green Lease Guide’, focused on encouraging organisations to make sustainable choices in the selection and fitout of office premises.
Caitlin has extensive experience in the development and evaluation of policy and programs related to sustainable building. For example, she helped to develop housing policy recommendations for the Queensland Government based on research into building industry and community attitudes to sustainable housing. She has also conducted many sustainable building research projects for the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts. From 2010 to 2012 Caitlin sat on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s Expert Reference Group for the development of the National Building Energy Standard Setting, Assessment and Rating Framework.
In the Local Government sector, Caitlin has worked with a range of councils to develop sustainability planning controls and guidelines, using a capacity-building approach to facilitate organisational learning. She has been heavily involved with the development of sustainability training programs for the housing industry, including the ‘Green Living’ course for the Master Builders Association, the ‘GreenSmart Renovation’s course for the Housing Industry Association and the multimedia ‘Trade Secrets’ project for the NSW Government and the Kirby Foundation. The programs are underpinned by research into effective adult learning, to maximise opportunities for personalised learning and skills development. Caitlin’s training experience also extends to commercial buildings, and she recently led a training project on green leasing for the NSW State Property Authority. Caitlin co-authored a publication on education and capacity building in the commercial building industry for the ‘Your Building’ website.
Caitlin has been involved in a range of community engagement, learning and communications initiatives related to sustainability. She has written and contributed to a number of magazine articles on sustainable housing, appeared as a guest on commercial, ABC and community radio programs, and produced segments for an environment show called ‘Green City’ for Eastside community radio. She conducted the background research and on-camera carbon audits for Channel 10’s Cool Aid program and participated in an expert panel on ‘imagining a sustainable future’ at the Great Escape music and arts festival in Sydney.
Image of Caitlin McGee
Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures
Core Member, ISF - Institute for Sustainable Futures
B.Sc (Arch) USyd, B.Arch (USyd)
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+61 2 9514 4952


Wynne, L.E., McGee, C. & Lehmann, S. 2017, 'Housing innovation for compact, resilient cities' in Growing Compact Urban Form, Density and Sustainability, Routledge.
The book presents contributions from internationally well-known scholars, thinkers and practitioners whose theoretical and practical works address city planning, urban and architectural design for density and sustainability at various ...


McGee, C.M. & Wynne, L. 2015, 'Regenerating the Suburbs: A model for compact, resilient cities', Website proceedings of SOAC, State of Australian Cities 2015, SOAC, Gold Coast, pp. 1-10.
Australia's major cities face a number of growing challenges, such as accommodating population growth while containing urban sprawl, catering for an ageing population and keeping housing affordable. Cities must reduce their ecological footprint to remain liveable, resilient and economically competitive. Yet accommodating increased densities in urban areas is a fraught issue that often sees planners, developers and local communities in conflict. Meanwhile, housing affordability is in crisis, fuelled by an inadequate supply of housing close to jobs and a taxation system that favours investors. The Reserve Bank has suggested 'the answer.. lies in more innovative and flexible use of the land that we have so that the marginal cost of adding more stock of dwellings is lower. This paper explores a model for compact urban living that helps to address a range of these challenges. It's a mainstream, small-scale adaptation of the 'co-housing' concept: single-dwelling suburban blocks are adapted to accommodate 2 or 3 smaller dwellings with some shared spaces, reducing the overall physical and environmental footprint per household. Households are likely to come together through their own social networks. This is just one solution in a broader suite of necessary planning approaches, but is affordable, in step with changing household structures and social trends, and may hold a key to 'humanising' density increases in urban/ suburban areas. It may also help to enable an informal 'sharing economy' that could reduce living costs and improve economic resilience. Despite the potential, this model is not well enabled via current regulatory systems. This paper explores the opportunities and barriers, with a focus on the NSW planning system, and recommends greater flexibility in some key planning instruments.
Kent, J.C., McGee, C.M., Herriman, J. & Riedy, C. 2010, 'A tough social challenge and a diabolical policy challenge', Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: Social dimensions of environmental change and governance, Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: Social dimensions of environmental change and governance, Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, Berlin.
Kent, J.C., McGee, C.M., Herriman, J. & Riedy, C. 2010, 'Participation and deliberation: could deliberative processes empower civil society participation in climate governance?', Proceedings of Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change 2010, Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: Social dimensions of environmental change and governance, Environmental Policy Research Centre, Freie Universitat, Berlin and German Development Institute, Berlin, Germany, pp. 1-16.
McGee, C.M., Partridge, E.Y., Carrard, N.R. & Milne, G.R. 2008, 'Mainstreaming sustainable housing: policies and programs that work', Proceedings of the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference, World Sustainable Building Conference, www.sb08melbourne.com, Melbourne, pp. 1-8.
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McGee, C.M., Mitchell, C.A. & Retamal, M.L. 2008, 'City limits: pushing boundaries in urban infill development', Proceedings of the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference, World Sustainable Building Conference, www.sb08melbourne.com, Melbourne, pp. 889-897.
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Roussac, C., McGee, C.M. & Milne, G.R. 2008, 'Changing the culture of commercial buildings in Australia: the role of green leases', Proceedings of the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference, World Sustainable Building Conference, www.sb08melbourne.com, Melbourne, pp. 1876-1881.
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Journal articles

McGee, C.M. 2008, 'Future proof: showcasing adaptable design at the doorstep to one of the world's natural wonders', Sanctuary, vol. 0, no. 3.
McGee, C.M. 2007, 'On Show: the Toowoomba community worked together to create a model sustainable home', Sanctuary, vol. 0, no. 4.


Wilmot, K., McGee, C.M. & Milne, G.R. ISF 2014, Market Research: Tenancy Fitout Material Procurement Attitudes and Practices, pp. 1-83, Sydney.
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The Better Buildings partnership (BBP) has previously investigated the tenancy processes that generate waste successive cycles of fitout, de-fit, make good and re-fit. This research project has been commissioned to explore why waste occurs in commercial building fitouts and what can be done about it, with a particular focus on the materials that dominate the fitout waste stream. The characteristics of each material and aspects of its usage are explored to determine how to improve reuse and recycling rates. The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) conducted in-depth interviews with 15 industry participants for this study, ranging from architects and property managers through to contractors and manufacturers. We also reviewed literature to provide context, however we found the available literature somewhat limited in terms of its currency, depth and local relevance. It is the interview conversations that provide a rich picture of the myriad issues and day-to-day problems that make it hard to institute a less wasteful, circular economy. The study attempts to place the problems in the context of the whole system to highlight possible solutions.
McGee, C.M., Wynne, L.E., Milne, G.R., Dovey, C., Mitchell, C.A., Prior, J.H., Sharpe, S.A. & Wilmot, K. 2014, Guiding World Class Urban Renewal: A Framework for UrbanGrowth NSW.
McGee, C.M. & Milne, G.R. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2012, Living Green Designer Homes: Design evaluation, Sydney, Australia.
McGee, C.M. & Milne, G.R. Investa Property Group 2012, Tropical Home Buyers Guide: A step-by-step guide to buying a new home, pp. 1-35, Sydney, Australia.
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Kuruppu, N., McGee, C.M., Murta, J., Prendergast, J., Prior, J.H., Prior, T.D., Retamal, M.L., Usher, J. & Zeibots, M.E. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2011, Sustainability strategy for the North Ryde Station Precinct Project: Infrastructure and subdivision, Sydney, Australia.
Riedy, C., Herriman, J., Partridge, E.Y., Dovey, C., McGee, C.M., Atherton, A.M. & Daly, J.G. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2010, Household behaviour change in Queensland: Literature review and recommendations, pp. 1-186, Sydney.
Effective behaviour change by householders will be crucial if the Queensland government is to meet its Towards Q2 target to cut the State's carbon footprint by one third through reductions in electricity use, fuel consumption and waste to landfill. The Institute was commissioned to conduct research into the potential of behaviour change policies by the Premier's Council on Climate Change (PCCC). This advisory council, chaired by the Premier, provides high-level advice to the Queensland Government on climate change response. After examining contemporary theory and practice relating to effective behaviour change policy, Institute researchers made specific recommendations for behaviour change initiatives that can be implemented in Queensland. The report identifies key points of intervention in the activities that generate household greenhouse gas emissions. These include both new and revised actions that are supported by evidence from behaviour change theory and are applicable to Queensland. The PCCC prepared a working paper including recommendations based on the Institute's research, which is currently with the Queensland government for consideration.
Dovey, C., McGee, C.M., Milne, G.R. & Lederwasch, A.J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2010, Points of sale and lease for residential buildings: Preparing for mandatory disclosure, pp. 1-111, Sydney.
McGee, C.M. & Stanely, H. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS and Centre for Design, RMIT 2008, Your Home Renovator's Guide social and market research: findings and recommendations, Sydney, Australia.
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McGee, C.M., Mitchell, C.A. & Vassallo, P.B. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2007, Barangaroo energy and water infrastructure, pp. 1-75, Sydney.
Background The purpose of this discussion paper is to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for Barangaroo at least cost. The focus of the discussion paper is infrastructure for energy and water, situated in the broader context of Sydneyâs future needs and the many emerging drivers for sustainable development. The paper examines global drivers for sustainable cities, as well as the current and emerging policy drivers that will shape Barangarooâs development. The paper also recommends a principles framework to guide development at Barangaroo, as well as high-level options for the development of energy and water infrastructure. This discussion paper is one of a series currently being prepared for Baranagaroo, and will inform the development of criteria to guide how the project attracts private sector investment. Opportunities for Barangaroo The Barangaroo site, formerly known as East Darling Harbour, will be developed as a new urban precinct in several stages up till 2020. Covering an area of approximately 22 hectares, the site will include a mix of residential, commercial, community and public domain uses. Sustainability is by definition a key element of Sydneyâs continued global competitiveness. As a precinct scale development located in the CBD, the Barangaroo development offers unparalleled opportunities for innovation. In particular, the ability to influence infrastructure design creates cost effective opportunities for significant precinct-wide sustainability gains. Opportunity even exists for Barangarooâs infrastructure to serve surrounding precincts, assisting to reduce the environmental impact of Sydneyâs CBD as a whole.
Partridge, E.Y. & McGee, C.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2007, Customer survey feedback from demand management and planning project investigations, pp. 1-56, Sydney.
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This is the report of a research project undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), at the University of Technology, Sydney, on behalf of the Demand Management and Planning Project (DMPP) at the NSW Department of Planning. The Institute was engaged to undertake the study as a follow-up to a series of building energy audits conducted by the DMPP. The DMPP intends to use the results to inform future energy efficiency and peak demand reduction strategies. The project consists of a customer survey and a complementary literature review. The survey explores the responses of DMPP customers to the audit reports and their general views about energy efficiency issues. The purpose of the survey was to find out what energy efficiency opportunities have been taken up by organisations and to explore any barriers to take-up. The review of key recent international and Australian research and policy literature on energy efficiency in buildings was included to allow a comparison of the survey results with previous findings in the field. The Institute developed an online survey that was sent to 353 DMPP energy audit customers. A total of 79 completed surveys were received, representing a response rate of 22 per cent.
McGee, C.M. 2007, Your Home - Buyer's Guide: A step-by-step guide to buying a new home, your Home - Buyer's Guide, Sydney.
Partridge, E.Y. & McGee, C.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2007, Opportunities to improve energy efficiency in buildings: An energy audit customer survey and literature review, Sydney.
Mitchell, C.A., McGee, C.M., Lewis, J., Roussac, C. & Stapledon, T.T. Institute of Sustainable Futures 2006, Strategic Planning Workshop, pp. 1-20, Sydney.
ATP has a significant strategic opportunity Capacity to create change and influence Preserve heritage, improve existing facilities and plan sustainable future developments
McGee, C.M., Partridge, E.Y. & Lewis, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2006, Perceptions of sustainable housing, pp. 1-90, Sydney.
This project is an investigation of perceptions of sustainable housing among consumers and the building industry in QLD. Knowledge, attitude and perception are common barriers to sustainability in many contexts, and the identification of such barriers is key to designing effective interventions. The research separately analyses consumer and industry perceptions of sustainable housing and examines the interrelationship between them. It also examines the underlying drivers in housing choice and delivery that shape each group's perceptions. The aim of the project is to use the knowledge gained about industry and consumer perceptions to develop a range of policy options that respond to the key drivers, motivators and barriers. This approach helps to identify what the focus of policy in this area should be, by indicating where the greatest resistance to the uptake of sustainable housing exists as well as where the potential positive leverage points are. The project consists of two main components; a research element, using primary and secondary research to investigate building industry and consumer perceptions of sustainable housing; and a policy development element, using the findings of the research to inform the development and analysis of a series of policy options. The research component of this work consists of three parts. First, a literature review provides an analysis of existing research. The second element is a series of telephone and face to face interviews with key stakeholders. The third element, another piece of primary research, consists of two surveys conducted with visitors to the HIA Home & Building Expo 2006. As the outcome of the project, this report is designed to assist QLD EPA to further refine and develop a series of effective, appropriate and evidence based initiatives and measures to support the effective implementation of sustainable housing principles and practices in Queensland.
McGee, C.M. Investa Property Group 2006, Green lease guide for commercial office tenants, Sydney, Australia.
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McGee, C.M. & Partridge, E.Y. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2006, Consumer and industry perceptions of sustainable housing, Sydney.
McGee, C.M. & Mitchell, C.A. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2005, New generation builders training development, Sydney.
McGee, C.M. & Partridge, E.Y. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2005, Technical resources on sustainable mixed-use development: A framework for next steps, Sydney.
McGee, C.M., Westcott, H., Milne, G.R. & Berry, T. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2004, Waverley Councils Built Form Planning Instruments, pp. 1-73, Sydney.
Waverley Council has initiated a two-part project that aims to comprehensively integrate the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) into its built form planning instruments and draft Bondi Junction Strategic Plan. This is consistent with the Community Planning Framework Council has adopted, which builds a shared vision with the community for the future of Waverley and provides a coordinated whole of council approach to achieving that vision. Through this framework, the community has nominated ESD as an important part of the vision for Waverleys future. The framework also places an emphasis on the integration of different sorts of planning (social, environmental, built form, asset, etc). In line with this, this project will examine Waverleyâs built form planning instruments in a broad whole of council context, looking at the how built form planning instruments can best integrate ESD in a way that is consistent with Councils community planning framework. Although our focus is on environmental issues, we will include consideration of the interface between built form and social issues (and where relevant, economic issues). In this report we use the term sustainability 4 interchangeably with ESD.
McGee, C.M., Milne, G.R. & Berry, T. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2004, Case for green buildings, pp. 1-52, Sydney.
Tarlo, K., McGee, C.M., Campbell, S., Cheney, H.E., Goldie, C., Lansbury, N., Chen, D. & Waugh, N. Productivity Commission 2003, Sustainable Affordable Housing - Submission to Inquiry into First Home Ownership, pp. 1-20, Sydney, Australia.
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The Institute welcomes this opportunity to submit comments to the Commissions Inquiry evaluating the affordability and availability of housing for first home buyers. The Institute for Sustainable Futures is a self-funded research and consulting institute of the University of Technology, Sydney. The Institutes mission is to support and create change towards sustainable futures by working with government, industry and the community. Social sustainability, sustainable housing and sustainable urban infrastructure for energy, water and transport are all key parts of this mission.1 This submission seeks to evaluate the affordability and availability of housing for first home buyers within the framework of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). It is in two parts. Part I: Submission provides the framework. Part II: Comments on the Commissions Issues Paper provides more details on this framework under the broad headings used in the Commissions Issues Paper.
Mitchell, C.A., McGee, C.M., Reardon, C.C. & Hawke, G.A. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2002, Survey of education, training and continuing professional development, pp. 1-33, Sydney.
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The intent of the study, in keeping with ABEC and AGO requirements, was to provide an indication of the extent to which the major providers currently address these issues both generally and with respect to specific topics. Industry and Professional Associations, Universities and TAFE Institutes across Australia were been surveyed to assess the level of energy efficiency and greenhouse related education being offered to building industry practitioners (including both future graduates and those currently practicing).
Mitchell, C.A., McGee, C.M. & Carew, A. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2002, Training in the Building and Construction Industry Stage II Final Report, pp. 1-40, Sydney.
Stage II of the Australian Building Energy Council (ABEC) project on Training in the Australian Building and Construction Industry focuses on enabling education deliverers to create sustainable change. This report has been created as a resource for tertiary education deliverers who wish to develop and deliver training aimed at enabling more sustainable practices in the building and construction industry. The report has been written by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) for ABEC, with input from representatives from the building industry, University and TAFE. Formative learning experiences (University and TAFE) are the focus of this report, although we have included a brief description of âbest practiceâ continuing professional development (CPD) courses that we came across during our research. In this report, we assemble a set of principles and criteria for developing best practice education for the building industry, identify existing best practice examples of education, and review these against the criteria. We then examine likely barriers to the implementation of best practice and outline a draft communications strategy to ensure the outcomes of this study are communicated and taken forward.
Berry, T. & McGee, C.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2002, Developing strategies for mainstreaming sustainability, pp. 1-29, Sydney.
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The objective of this project was to progress the process of mainstreaming sustainable residential development. For the purpose of this report, mainstreaming is defined as the increased acceptance and adoption of sustainable design strategies and technologies by the majority of the building industry and its consumers, the broader community. To achieve this objective the report aims to identify and verify where possible the barriers to mainstreaming sustainable residential development and to recommend solutions to overcome such barriers. The project focussed on three areas Greenfield residential development rather than urban renewal. Institutional constraints (process, people, regulatory etc) more than socio-cultural (education, perception, etc) or technological. The four service areas of Water, Waste and Materials, Transport, and Social sustainability. Interviews of a broad and representative cross section of the development community were combined with other research and related work. This research and consultation was then built on and tested at a workshop involving a similarly representative group. In this report there are four levels of detail related to the key project findings Constraint categories and sub-categories (Shown in Figure 1). For each category, priority constraints, key findings and recommendations (Shown overleaf and in the relevant report section). For each category, all identified and verified constraints (Shown in the summary matrices in the relevant report section). For each identified and verified constraint, contextual detail including ideas for solutions, examples of where the constraints have been overcome and remaining questions surrounding each constraint (Shown in Appendix A). Four major categories of constraint emerged from the interviews and initial research along with associated subcategories.
Reardon, C.C., White, S., McGee, C.M., Shackel, S. & Slapp, B. Commonwealth of Australia 2001, Your Home: Design for Lifestyle and the Future, Canberra, Australia.
Selected Peer-Assessed Projects