28/08/2018 - 09:35

High-tech, sustainable, future-proofed apartments

28/08/2018 - 09:35


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Owner-occupiers and investors increasingly look for technology and sustainability features when making apartment purchases.

High-tech, sustainable, future-proofed apartments
The Cove’s roof gardens were designed to reduce storm water runoff and minimise the reflection of light and heat.

Owner-occupiers and investors increasingly look for technology and sustainability features when making apartment purchases.

Sustainability has become an important consideration for buyers when choosing an apartment, according to Paul Blackburne.

The managing director and founder of property group Blackburne said his business started focusing on environmentally friendly practices about five years ago, having mainly worked on smaller projects where sustainable practices were fairly limited before that.

“Along with the environmental benefits, they (buyers) also appreciate the lower operating and maintenance costs associated with sustainable apartment buildings,” Mr Blackburne told Business News.

“(These factors are) important for owner-occupiers looking to keep their cost of living down and also investors who are looking to maximise return.”

Blackburne’s The Cove in North Fremantle, completed in April, set and achieved environmental targets including a 58 per cent reduction in energy usage, as well as a 19 per cent decrease in water consumption, among other things, which Mr Blackburne said was key to keeping strata fees low.

The Cove features solar passive design principles, a 24-kilowatt grid solar photovoltaic array, an electric heat pump system and a roof garden, which helps to reduce storm water runoff and reduces light and heat reflection.

Buyer interest aside, Mr Blackburne said local council requirements were driving sustainability practices, with the City of Fremantle’s local planning scheme no.4 objectives including design guidelines in accordance with the council’s energy efficiency schedule. 

Finbar chief operations officer Ronald Chan said the advancement in contemporary construction techniques, technology, and materials had also helped sustainability practices gain momentum.

Mr Chan said Finbar was the first developer in Australia to use Bubbledeck, also known as a Biaxial Hollow Slab, a sustainable product made from concrete and recycled plastic balls that can reduce the amount of concrete used by about a third. In addition, the lighter load on each floor required less structural support in terms of concrete and steel.

Finbar first used the building technology at its Gateway development on Albany Highway in Victoria Park eight years ago; it has since become the company’s default system for all large-scale developments above three storeys.

Beyond materials, Mr Chan said Finbar’s high-rise projects also featured a mechanical bin compaction unit that worked in tandem with a waste chute system, reducing rubbish and future landfill by up to 65 per cent. 

He said buyers, mostly owner-occupiers, now expected developers to incorporate sustainability measures.

Owner-occupiers make up 65 per cent of Perth’s apartment market, according to the latest statistics from Urbis, which recorded $214 million worth of sales for Q2 – above the average level seen in 2017.

“People are more conscious of the impact they’re having on the environment. It’s becoming more important for people to know they are living in a sustainable building and to understand their ecological footprint,” Mr Chan said.


There are several sustainability-driven apartment projects currently taking shape in Western Australia, including Defence Housing Australia’s recently completed Liv Apartments in Fremantle, designed by HASSELL and recognised as the state’s third One Planet Community, under the international Bioregional program.

This follows LandCorp’s WGV development and Yolk Property’s Evermore project.

Nearby, the 16-apartment Nightingale project designed by EHDO is under way, with solar panels delivering electricity savings of about $11,000 per annum across the building. 

Another project under way is Edge Visionary Living’s $70 million, seven-storey apartment project Botanical, designed by Hillam Architects.

Botanical is one of the developer’s many projects featuring ‘green’ initiatives including water-wise fixtures, solar passive design, sustainable materials and systems that separate refuse and recycled waste.

Stirling Capital managing director Luke Reinecke said sustainability had been a big focus as a means of future-proofing its projects.

Stirling’s $100 million MJA Studio-designed Cirque project currently under way is the first apartment development in WA to achieve a five-star Green Star rating (out of six) from the Green Building Council of Australia.

Future proofing is also a key priority for Norup + Wilson director Dave Wilson.

He said the business’s $100 million Scarborough Beach Shack apartment project had been designed by Plus Architecture to achieve high environmental efficiency standards and the incorporation of advanced technologies.

“Technology is something that we’re pushing very hard on; it’s going to be the single most important thing that buyers are going to look at in five to 10 years’ time,” Mr Wilson said.

“The technology that we install into the backbone of a building will determine whether it’ll keep up with the speed of technology and the demands of our future lifestyles.

“For example, most buildings are still being built with copper as the backbone cable; that’s not easily upgradeable and not nearly as adaptable to future hardware.

“People laugh at us when they learn we have a drone landing zone. But when we explain our vision for the next 10 to 20 years and that our concern is that it may not be big enough, they get it.

“We believe that sometime in the future we’re going to be driving around in (flying) Ubers and drones will be the preferred method of delivery of goods. It’s already happening elsewhere in the world and we would be short-sighted if we didn’t plan for it.”

Residential developer Gary Dempsey is also taking a punt at anticipating future amenity and transport needs at his company’s 55-apartment project Siskas within the Taskers residential master-planned community in North Fremantle, due for completion late 2020.

Designed by ZMH Architects and Craig Steere Architecture for Gary Dempsey Developments, Siskas will incorporate a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) space on its roof.

Mr Dempsey said Taskers was designed with forward planning and future advances in technology in mind, and said the arrival of VTOL aircrafts was set to become a reality in the next five years. 


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