15 February 2011 – Australia’s first five star Green Star social housing project in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Lilyfield was officially launched this week by NSW Minister for Housing Frank Terenzini and Member for Balmain Verity Firth.

The star rating made the $29.5million project of 88 architecturally–designed units “the greenest social housing project in the country,” the minister said.

“We hope the Lilyfield project will become a model for future social housing projects across the Nation, as it demonstrates that affordable housing can also be ecologically sustainable.

“By embracing green building principles, the Keneally Government is providing a more sustainable environment for public housing occupants, who will benefit from lower energy and water bills as well as a happier, healthier place to live, Mr Terenzini said.

There  are 24 one-bedroom units, 58 two-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units, with 10 per cent designed for accessibility by occupants with disabilities.

Ms Firth said: “This redevelopment is part of the $60.2 million dollar Inner West Strategy, which aims to deliver 228 new homes in the Inner West close to services and transport.

“The new units replace 40 original units in 12 two storey blocks constructed in the 1950s that had proven costly to maintain and upgrade, and were no longer appropriate for the local demographic mix.

“This innovative strategy ensures the preservation of valuable heritage property whilst funding considerably more homes for inner west residents,” Ms Firth said.

Key features of the units are:

  • Passive solar design with living areas of all units facing north or east, with natural cross ventilation.
  • The latest technology in photovoltaic cells on panels concealed by a “dramatically raked roofline” to provide on-site production of electricity and solar hot water.
  • All rainwater is collected in tanks for use in communal gardens and toilets.
  • A large central courtyard and BBQ area, with a pergola for shade with landscaped, private open spaces for all ground floor units.
  • Community garden to be developed, once residents have moved in, to encourage them to grow their own vegetables.
  • Compost bins to be provided near the community garden space.
  • Secure bicycle parking for residents and visitors of the development.

The project architect, Gustavo Thiermann of HBO+EMTB said: “We did not deliberately set out to make history with the project,  we simply applied the sustainability principles we seek to utilise in all of our projects, as we had designed the buildings before the GBCA Pilot Residential tool was available.”

Romilly Madew, chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, said the Lilyfield project represented “Australian excellence” in environmentally sustainable design.

“The Lilyfield housing development is one of only a handful of residential projects that has achieved a Green Star rating. This demonstrates that the benefits of sustainable living are available to everyone in the community.”

See Ms Madew’s comments on the project in her regular column for The Fifth Estate.