Waterbank, Perth

Denise McNabb

28 October 2013 – According to Lend Lease project director in Western Australia Tim Urquhart two of his company’s projects in the state are set to turn the perception of community developments  on its ear thanks to the Green Building Council of Australia’s new Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool.

The projects at Alkimos Beach, north of Perth, being developed in conjunction with state land development agency LandCorp and Waterbank in East Perth, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Development Authority, will be pilots for the tool in WA.

The tool builds upon the best practice green star building rating by taking it into a wider arena, canvassing  everything for the design and delivery of sustainable, productive, resilient and liveable communities, the company says.

Waterbank is an urban regeneration project on the Swan River near the Western Australian Cricket Ground. It will have 800 high-rise apartments, commercial buildings, a retail precinct and a hotel (subject to potential viability)on six hectares of land.

Alkimos Beach is a coastal community development,  about 40 kilometres north of Perth. Its first stage will deliver more than 2000 homes for 6000 residents.

Both projects will be benchmarked against six categories including liveability, governance, design, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.

Urquhart, Lend Lease’s WA project director for the $1 billion Waterbank  project,  says that to qualify for acceptance to be assessed under the tool the company had to have more than one building, “so there is an element of scale.”

Until recently the grassy land that was reclaimed as landfill more than 50 years ago served as an extra playing field for Trinity College. It is subject to flooding at high tide.

Climate change adaptation in developments such as these must take into account habitable space above a certain level.  Urquhart says buildings need to be sited high enough to beat tide levels for the next 100 years.

The tool comes with detailed instructions on how a customer must go about achieving the rating through measures, categories and points, partial points and other activities.

“This certification will assist the GBCA to formalise breaking of new ground as well as testing some of the principals it is looking to use,” Urquhart says.

“You are not just rating the built form but the governance of the project, ongoing projects, the completion of the project. You are looking at a whole of life equation – how it is designed; is consulted on through the design process; how it is used not only in the built form, but how it contributes to liveability in that community.

“It is holistic in that there is not so much emphasis on carbon but an overall focus on outcomes.

“You are trying to create very sophisticated outcomes where the pieces of city you are playing with and the amount of time you are putting into the public realm creates overall value.

“It is part and parcel of urban regeneration [globally] but we don’t see a lot of this in Australia.”

Urquhart, who worked on the 2012 Olympic Village in London for Lend Lease,  says it is difficult sometimes to value these sorts of outcomes and project them to customers.

People in some parts of the world are more prepared than others to pay more to belong to these types of communities because of better sustainability  values and a point of difference, he says.

“It’s a rapidly changing marketplace.  People are starting to promote them and are authentic about their commitment to them as a far better proposition.”

Urquhart says it is more difficult to convey the concept in a standalone building, whereas in a community project people are buying into a place with a ground plan. They could look at what spaces would be created and how to use them.

As a regeneration project Waterbank had been reclaimed with landfill 50 years ago, making it difficult to build on – the reason why it had been vacant for so long.

Lend Lease will work with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority to remediate the land, compressing soil to below water level and packing 7-8 metres of soil on top to ensure no leaching of acid sulfates.

Urquhart says a lot of the certification that applies to green star buildings such as the thermal requirements for four and five star residential buildings would apply at Waterbank.

There would be airconditioning but he says this was more market driven than a prerequisite.

There will also be a black water recycling system for toilets and irrigation.

Photovoltaic panels may be installed in the future, Urquhart says.

“We are aiming for a 5 Star Green Star Australian Excellence rating for Waterbank and to deliver and Australian first with certification under this new Green Star – Communities rating tool.”

Construction is expected to start before the end of 2014, and will be done in stages with completion due by 2021.

Alkimos

Urquhart says Alkimos Beach will be assessed with the same certification tool but as a broadacre land sub-division with two-storey residential suburban dwellings, it will come from a different base.

He says the GBCA had designed a rigorous certification tool with an extensive framework that was now about testing and refining.

“It is a legacy for Perth, a generational type projects. We are fundamentally doing things not done for the city before and we hope to do them profoundly well.”

Chief executive of the GBCA, Romilly Madew, says: “The projects will lead the way for the state, showing the community how to meet world-leading social, economic and environmental benchmarks.”