The Avenue development

By Cameron Jewell

3 October 2013 — The Avenue, a mixed-use development by Osborne Family Holdings located in a large urban renewal project, is set to be the first sustainable precinct in Darwin.

Spirit, a residential section of the development, has been awarded Urban Development Institute of Australia EnviroDevelopment certification through multiple sustainability initiatives.

The Avenue development is located on a 1.7 hectare site, which was formerly an industrial facility that has undergone significant land remediation.

Osborne Family Holdings managing director Kerry Osborne said the development had interconnecting sustainability features, offering significant environmental benefits and cost savings to owners and occupiers.

“From the very start of our planning and community engagement, we have focused on delivering the most sustainable development possible through the use of new technology and transforming innovative ideas into reality,” he said.

“We recognise that there’s a great opportunity to reduce waste in terms of energy and consumables. Spirit On ‘The Avenue’ puts this belief into action and sets a new standard in environmental responsibility.”

Mr Osborne, who is also president of the Northern Territory branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, told The Fifth Estate the decision to go for UDIA accreditation over Green Star was down to practicality.

“Green Star doesn’t work up here,” he said.

Darwin’s climate, he said, made it difficult to meet the requirements for Green Star, with points for measures like efficient heating not at all relevant.

This led to chasing other points, rather than focusing on sustainability.

He gave an example of a Green Star project in Darwin that had transported ash from a southern state to add to concrete to get a rating, saying it defied logic as the diesel this would have wasted was environmentally damaging.

“EnviroDevelopment is a practical approach rather than tick the box,” he said. It was also designed and based in Queensland, he said, and had elements more suitable to Top End climates.

Green Star’s chief operating officer Robin Mellon said that Green Star had been developed over the last 10-11 years to be as adaptive as possible, and there were projects from Weipa in Far North Queensland down to Hobart demonstrating the rating tool could adapt to climate and location.

The very first tools may have struggled with varying climates, he said, but they had adapted very quickly.

He said Green Star wasn’t about “picking winners” or advocating for particular solutions, and that the Green Building Council of Australia would “always encourage projects to chase the principles rather than chasing the points”.

Sustainable features

Mr Osbourne said that his company maintained caretaker rights, and had a long-term commitment to the project. He said the focus on sustainability was also a business decision, as every feature was commercially viable.

Care has been taken to design Spirit to encourage sustainable behaviour, with such measures as colour-coded recycling bins, and compost waste collection points conveniently located near lifts.

Seventy per cent of energy cost was airconditioning, Mr Osbourne said, so it made sense to focus most on this area.

The centralised chilled water airconditioning systems chosen for the project are 4-6 times more efficient than low efficiency split inverter systems. Taking a holistic approach, the waste heat from these systems is then used to create hot water for the development and the condensation is collected, stored and used for irrigation.

Other sustainability features in the precinct include:

  • Edible gardens – the first stage of the precinct, Hastings over Mindil, holds extensive edible gardens which contain over 30 species of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables.
  • Vegetable patches – 20 separate raised vegetable patches averaging 10m2 are situated in an ideal section on the podium decks, and can be booked by residents for a 12-month period.
  • Solar panels – The Avenue roofs will contain photovoltaic cells with capacity of 250 kilowatts, estimated to produce 15-20 per cent of the power required for the site during sunlight hours.
  • LED lighting – downlights to all common areas and apartments will be fitted with 9-watt LED lamps.
  • Recycling facilities – the target for the precinct is to see only 10-20 per cent of all waste taken to landfill, though triple colour-coded bins, standardised, biodegradable bin liners and full recycling stations
  • Worm farming – each apartment will have a wet waste container and each tower have a wet waste collection point that will feed into a dedicated worm farm tended by the caretaker
  • Cycling support – secure bike storage spaces at upper basement for commercial premise users, including showers, toilets and changing rooms; bike storage spaces at lower basement for residential premise users; a bicycle path constructed through the entire street linking the existing arterial bikeways
  • Lighting control – with over 1500 common areas lights, multiple strategies exist to ensure the areas are appropriately lit with costs minimised, including movement and time-based sensors
  • Energy data – each apartment will be fitted with a system enabling information about power, hot water and cold water to be quickly and easily displayed and accessed through an iPad type layout, with incorporation of energy targets and overuse alarms
  • Water efficient fixtures and fittings – dual flush toilets, minimum flow showerheads, 4 star vanity tapware
  • Ground water bore – ground bore infrastructure designed to save some 40,000 kilowatt hours a year for the remainder of the buildings life span
  • On-site stormwater and condensate storage – large storage tanks with capacity of 100,000L to catch both rainwater and condensate generated from the airconditioning systems
  • Efficient street lighting – the first LED streetlights in Darwin to date