06/05/2010 - 00:00

Innovative projects lead sustainable charge

06/05/2010 - 00:00

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A LIBRARY in Mosman Park and a small home in the Swan Valley have been launched as showcase projects to illustrate the effectiveness and affordability of environmentally sustainable design.

Innovative projects lead sustainable charge

A LIBRARY in Mosman Park and a small home in the Swan Valley have been launched as showcase projects to illustrate the effectiveness and affordability of environmentally sustainable design.

The library and community centre, known as The Grove and currently under construction in Mosman Park, is one of 13 projects nationwide to receive federal Green Precincts funds to demonstrate how to educate and prepare communities for a future with less water.

The home, known as Jade 909 and located in the master planned community of Vale in the Swan Valley, is setting new standards for affordable sustainability and innovative design, according to developer Multiplex Living.

Environmental scientist Josh Byrne said the key to The Grove was a broad and well integrated set of design ideas and technologies that would present the library as a lighthouse project for sustainable building design.

Innovative technologies used at The Grove include climate-sensitive building design, including a unique thermal maze; energy and water-efficient fixtures and fittings; rainwater harvesting; onsite treatment and reuse of wastewater; renewable energy and stormwater treatment.

“The really interesting thing behind the project and where I think the really juicy information will come from, in due course, is to see how these different features work in with one another,” Mr Byrne said.

“One of the really good things about the project is there is a very sophisticated building management system which can control the operation and integration of a number of these components, but also reports on how they are functioning.

“That’s information we can put out to industry and put out to the community and hopefully we can all learn something from it.”

The sustainable design components required a capital investment of $2.1 million, with $1.5 million provided by a Green Precincts grant.

The library was the only project in Western Australia to receive a grant under the program.

Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland project architect Christian Wetjen said cost had traditionally been a barrier to the industry taking up sustainable building innovations in greater numbers and that environmental sustainable design needed to be assessed long-term.

“A lot of times in Australia we’re looking very short-term in terms of investment, residential and commercial, whereas for this building, to make a lot of these items work and to repay the investment, we looked at 20 and 40 year payback periods,”

“A lot of these items are quite viable and pay for themselves, but if you’re just looking at initial payback then it’s probably a bit hard to get it as mainstream, because you do have to pay a little bit extra initially.”

Out in the Swan Valley, Multiplex Living’s nine-green star rated display home, Jade 909, is doing its bit to lift awareness of sustainable design for residential purposes.

In addition to its rating, the home is carbon neutral, using 119 per cent less energy and 76 per cent less water compared to an average Perth home, Multiplex Living said.

According to the builder, WA-based Right Homes, the home can be built for just 2 to 5 per cent higher than the cost of a standard dwelling.

Jade 909 is available on a design and construct basis at a sale price from $205,000.

Multiplex Living managing director of communities Anthony Rowbottam said the home was at the forefront of sustainable design and will be used as a benchmark going forward.

Ecotect Architects principal Garry Baverstock, who has been a pioneer in environmentally sustainable design in Western Australia, said the nine-star home was a good start, but there needed to be more widespread application of sustainable design principles, particularly when developers are subdividing land.

“Every time there is a new land subdivision or urban redevelopment area, the first thing that should be considered is how the land is carved up to maximise opportunity for energy efficiency of every building in that development, instead of it being an afterthought,” Mr Baverstock said.

“With all new subdivisions it should be a given that there is a minimum 80 per cent quota of planners to design blocks to take a passive solar house economically.

“We all know we can do it on any block, but it costs money, and to make it more accessible to people and make it more popular, what we’ve got to do is make it the norm.

“So the average guy that buys a block actually expects a good northern orientation to his side yard or his backyard, so he can design a passive solar house, builders can provide the plans and it can all be done with a minimum of fuss.”

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