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Flat Chat

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Instead of being more efficient than "normal" houses, as they should be, Sydney's high-rise apartments apparently produce twice as much greenhouse gas through energy wastage. Our green credentials go up in smoke via common areas and uncovered swimming pools.

Despite this, according to Herald planning and architecture writer Elizabeth Farrelly (SMH June 21st), the NSW Government has watered down any plans it had to make new apartment blocks more environmentally friendly through its Basix building sustainability index.

This would have pleased Macquarie Street's developer mates. Global warming? Prophecies of doom, it seems, are less important than doomed profits.

But if our pollies aren't going to do the right thing, perhaps we apartment dwellers should embrace an idea that combines solar and wind power and would save us all heaps on electricity bills.

We mean, of course, hanging your washing out to dry on your balcony. This practice is usually strictly forbidden but it's not actually banned: the only by-law on the books is that you need your Owners Corporation's written permission before you can string up your smalls in public view.

Few people would want to see the balconies of inner-city high-rises festooned with multi-coloured unmentionables but if replacing your café-style sunshade with a Hills Hoist won't wash, would a discreetly placed wire clothes drying rack offend the eye that much? A ruling that laundry shouldn't be visible above the balustrade would be all that it took.

But be warned: if this idea takes off, with 400,000 new apartments planned for Sydney over the next 10 years, that's a lot of obligatory tumble driers than needn't be built or imported.

If white-goods manufacturers and sellers copied the big developers and started making no-strings donations to our incorruptible political parties, the appearance of so much as a damp tea-towel could end up punishable by jail.

So all you green-minded Executive Committees out there, get moving. Let's have communal clothes lines on your roofs or low-rise laundry permits for your balconies. Use your power while you can, before it gets lost in the wash-up.

First published SMH June 2006