5 July 2012 ­ – Investing in green roofs, affordable housing and energy and water saving measures in developments will offer monetary returns under a new City of Sydney proposal.

Property owners and developers who invest in Sustainable Sydney 2030 initiatives will be able to apply for exemptions from the development contribution levy.

The draft Central Sydney Contributions Plan 2012, which is on public exhibition, increases the range of developments that could be exempt from the current levy.

Developers could apply for partial exemptions and waivers of the 1 per cent development contribution levy if their project includes: affordable housing, boarding houses or not-for-profit development; the installation of green energy facilities, such as solar panels; showers and bicycle lock-up facilities for bike riders; tanks and greywater treatment for the re-use of water in gardens and cooling towers; and refitting of buildings to provide small finegrain spaces for new shops.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the updated Central Sydney Contributions Plan would encourage developers to consider ways they could play a more positive role in supporting their local community through green initiatives.

“Sydney needs more buildings like the award-winning 1 Bligh Street, which has the highest Green Star rating score for a high-rise building in NSW,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Developers need to be innovative when designing for the future, and it’s essential for them to consider sustainable initiatives such as green energy, water harvesting and active transport.”

Developers of projects worth more than $200,000 in central Sydney currently pay a 1 per cent Section 61 contribution, with the money used to contribute to the cost of public works.

Since the introduction of the levy in 1997, the City has received about $90 million in contributions within central Sydney, averaging $6 million a year.

The plan identifies $295 million of anticipated public domain, community facility, open space and traffic improvements.

The draft plan is on exhibition until 2 August at www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Council/OnExhibition or at City of Sydney venues.

Meanwhile, the City has introduced the City of Sydney Green Roofs and Walls Strategy which outlines the steps needed to promote local use of green roofs and walls.

The knowledge obtained from the strategy will help form the Green Roofs and Walls Policy.

The strategy will include a range of studies related to green roofs and walls, specifically:  a perception study to determine drivers promoting green roofs and walls; an opportunity analysis to identify potential locations and create opportunities to promote the installation of green roofs and walls; a cost benefit study to model the costs, benefits and risks associated with scenarios for the locations identified above and make available the knowledge needed to inform a policy; and an implementation plan, which will set out a framework for developing the policy.

The City said there were already 49 approved green roofs in the City of Sydney, ranging from simple planter boxes to the 2600?square metre roof garden at the MCentral apartment building in Harris Street, Pyrmont.

Green walls are located at 14 sites across the City, including Australia’s largest ­–  the nine-metre high and 40-metre long installation at the six star Green Star-rated 1 Bligh building.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said green roofs could be simple additions to existing buildings or new projects that have the potential to greatly increase the amount of recreational space in the city.

“City of Sydney is home to some of the highest urban density in the country, which makes finding ways to add more green space particularly important,” she said.

“There’s a huge amount of unused space above street level that developers often fail to make the most of. Our studies on roof gardens and green walls will help encourage building owners to install more of these green spaces.

“With good planning and safe development, the possibilities are endless. Think of playgrounds, exercise circuits, picnic tables and umbrellas for office workers to lunch in the open air. Green roofs could be a refuge for urban biodiversity or even home to community gardens.”

Increasing the number of green roofs and walls would help the City to meet its Greening Sydney target to increase the city’s tree canopy by 50 per cent by 2030, and can also reduce the energy required for airconditioning of buildings by about 30 per cent, Ms Moore said.