25 July 2011 – Residents of Queensland’s Ecovillage have never had water restrictions or shortages and, perhaps best of all, are exempt from council water and sewerage bills.

Kerry Shepherd, sales and marketing manager at the Ecovillage in Currumbin on the Gold Coast, told The Fifth Estate more than 70 homes are occupied.

She said a perfect demographic bellcurve had been achieved due to planning strategies –  provision in the estate of 17 one bedroom plus study homes and 26 two bedrooms with study. The balance was unlimited bedrooms, under planning approvals.

She described pluses for the residents of this world renowned resort, founded by sustainable developer Chris Walton, as:

  • Complete water autonomy achieved, with no connection to local authority mains.  Residents thus avoid paying Gold Coast City Council water and sewerage rates. The Ecovillage has never had a water shortage or restrictions imposed and owners have not been subjected to any of the water issues currently facing the Gold Coast community
  • Around 70 per cent of the fruit and vegetables grown by occupants on their own land. Chicken coups are shared between neighbouring properties, a barter system for oversupply of one fruit / veg with other neighbours regularly occurring.
  • All homes are solar powered. Of the 70 occupied, probably only three are actually paying bills. The rest are either using what they make or gaining rebates. A few homes get a return on average of $200-$300 per quarter.
  • A study of the village by University of Sydney, Griffith University and the Department of Environment and Resource Management has shown that Ecovillage families use approx 26 per cent of energy of that compared to their South East Queensland neighbours outside the village.
  • Consumption by residents is a very low median at 2094 kilowatts hour per year in comparison to a standard south eastern Queensland home of 7882 kilowatt hour a year.
  • 82 per cent of electricity consumed is produced onsite by residents own solar panels.

The community in 2008 won the International Prix D’Excellence, awarded by the International Real Estate Federation as the world’s best environmental development and the prestigious Housing Industry Association’s Green Smart National Building of the Year Award for one of its homes.

The village opens annually on Sustainable House Day (Sept 11 this year) with usually three homes being opened in the one estate.

The community’s securitised Old Dairy Recreation Centre with its recycled buildings is now finished and owners enjoy a swimming pool, three children’s playgrounds, a gym, village hall, outdoor spa pavilions, functions kitchen, wood-fired pizza oven and more.

Chris Walton and other members of the development team are consulting with Fiji’s Tavarua Island resort which commissioned an audit and is implementing many strategies to make the resort more sustainable, Ms Shepherd said.