On trigen, places for people, and better places for people who desperately need them

8 December 2011 – There’s a place we know called Fish on Fire. Great name. Well, the sustainable property industry is on fire.

First, a trigen double coup.

Highly chuffed this week was Blair Healy, Cogent Energy’s founder and manager, whose company, now owned by Origin, was officially confirmed as the supplier of low-carbon trigeneration energy systems to the City of Sydney in its ambitious 2030 plan.

Cogent also revealed to The Fifth Estate it would have the first major trigen precinct – over a massive five-block greenfield development at Dandenong, about 35 kilometres south-west of Melbourne – operational by mid-next year.

Part of this plant will include a 1.5 kilometre hot water network to transfer waste heat for heating and cooling of buildings in the precinct.

Dandenong is an area that has traditionally suffered from rust belt status, but is now the focus of some serious renewal thanks to grand designs from Places Victoria, previously VicUrban.

See our story on this.

There is also a huge buzz on retrofits, not just in Australia, but worldwide.

Environmental upgrade agreements, now underway in Melbourne and soon NSW after the City of Sydney finalised its agreement template, are making news in the US too.

The Melbourne 1200 Buildings program that kicked off the whole deal was not only the focus of an article in Environment 360, but has been mentioned by none other than former US President Bill Clinton on his Facebook page.

  • See Sustainable Melbourne Fund’s new animation guide for its loans of up to $500,000 through its $6.4 million investment program

If only we could get him to subscribe to The Fifth Estate, he would have our news stream on retrofit breakthroughs as they come to hand.

Such as the 1991 building at 120 Sussex Street, Sydney, that notched up a 5.5 star NABERS Energy rating this week, without green power.

This Local Government Super-owned building uses the Shaw Method of Air Conditioning technology and E1 lighting, just like its LGS-owned cousin at 76 Berry Street, North Sydney, which scored a massive six star NABERS Energy without green power.

Our story on this, incidentally, is already one of our highest-ranking stories and keeps topping the monthly hit charts on our home page.

The wonderful thing is that if you go to the NABERS website you will see that there is a whole tranche of high achievers with six star Energy ratings, abeit using green power. Details are available if you drill down through the next link. See our list below.

Cites: we love them and want them to behave
Another person stirring interest in the built environment was the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, with the remarkable claim he made at the recent State of Australian Cities conference in Melbourne that the report of the same name was downloaded a massive 350,000 times in the month since it was posted. In fact his department needed extra server capacity to handle the traffic, he said.

Who said we were bored with the countless number of reports, navel gazing and very ephemeral goals and aspirations of cities that threaten to rival the number of times the NSW Government reviews its planning system?

People are seriously fascinated by how their cities rate and obviously on how to make them more liveable and sustainable.

At the conference Albanese launched Creating Places for People – an urban design protocol for Australian cities, which is the follow-up to The State of Australian Cities report.

He promised the focus was not on concepts such as “permeability, legibility and way-finding”, but on the ultra-practical, Jan Gehl-driven mantra of people first.

What a soothing, happy thing to hear. What we have now in our cities, of course, is mostly all about cars.

In his plan for the City of Sydney to remake his patch in Chippendale as a more sustainable, human-centred place, sustainability coach and columnist with The Fifth Estate, Michael Mobbs, puts it perfectly.

It’s about “making the car the guest”, he says. Not making the pedestrian feel like an intruder into a place for cars. So there are trees in the centre of the road; the road is narrow so that cars need to drive slowly and carefully. Pedestrians rule.

If anyone watched the recent ABC documentary on the history of cars in Australia, it’s clear that roads authorities are not alone in venerating the car. It’s actually a part of the national psyche.

The deeper the thrum of the six-pack under the hood ­– or V8 – the better.

But it’s not as silly as you might think. What the doco reveals is the psychology behind living in this vast and overwhelming land. Cars gave the arrivistes a tool to navigate and conquer the great emptiness. Or to permeate, read and way-find, as Albanese might have put it.

If you want to change the status quo, it’s always handy to know what you are dealing with.

Cop 17 in Durban South Africa
The Green Building Council of Australia’s Romilly Madew, at the Cop 17 conference in Durban South Africa, sent a note back to staff in Australia this week about the tour she was part of in Green Street, Cato Manor, where the UK government has agreed to fund the retrofit of 30 homes.

“This is an incredibly poor township, with families living in one-room homes with little ventilation, no running water, a polluted stream where they wash their clothes, no gardens, high unemployment, and the list goes on,” Madew says.

Romilly Madew and Roger Platt

As part of the plan, the houses will receive solar-heated water, energy-efficient lighting, a heat-insulation cooker, roof insulation to regulate temperatures in the homes, rainwater harvesting systems for better water and food security, indigenous trees for shade and biodiversity, shade and fruit trees, energy-saving LED street lighting, and temperature and humidity recorders to help the project team evaluate the energy and dollars saved by the retrofit project.

Even better was that the GBCA helped link the Australian government with the South Africa Green Building Council so they could grant A$100,000 so another 30 homes could be retrofitted.

At an acknowledgement ceremony Madew said it was particularly touching to hear one home owner tell how she receives $1500 Rand a month (about A$220) in benefits, and that now, with the retrofit, she is saving more than $250 Rand a month. In addition, her son no longer has breathing problems because the family has been able to stop using paraffin for fuel.

NABERS Energy Six Star rated buildings

The Szencorp Building
40 Albert Rd, South Melbourne 3205 VIC
Szencorp Pty Ltd

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (6)

Carnegie Morgan House
120 Sussex St, Sydney 2000 NSW
Local Government Super

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (4)

60 Burelli Street, Wollongong 2500 NSW
Centuria

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (3.5)

118-120 Sussex Street , Sydney 2000 NSW
Local Government Super
Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (3.5)

Local Government House
28 Margaret Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Local Government Super and Local Government and Shires Associations c/o CBRE

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (3.5)

Local Government Super
2-4 Lyon Park Road, North Ryde 2113 NSW
Local Government Super c/o CBRE

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (3.5)

76 Berry Street
76 Berry Street, North Sydney 2060 NSW
Local Government Super

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (3.5)

Symantec Place
181 Miller Street, North Sydney 2060 NSW
Local Government Super

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (2.5)

Ausgrid Roden Cutler House
24a Campbell Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Ausgrid

Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (2.5)

APC Wetherill Park
74-94 Newton Road, Wetherill Park 2164 NSW
Challenger Group
Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (2)

Ausgrid Head Office Building
570 George Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Ausgrid
Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (1.5)

Unit 3
212 Boundary Street, Spring HIll 4000 QLD
Energetics
Energy rating (6.0)

ANZ Building
L8/11-27 Waymouth Street, ADELAIDE 5000 SA
Department for Transport, Energy & Infastructure

Energy rating (6.0)
Federation House
24 Moonee Street, Coffs Harbour 2450 NSW
Office of Environment and Heritage

Energy rating (6.0)

CBD House
L3, 207 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Big Switch Projects

Energy rating (6.0)

Ausgrid RCH Floor 1,2,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,19
24 Campbell Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Ausgrid

Energy rating (6.0)

Millenium
2 Millenium Boulevard, Carindale 4152 QLD
MJ Nielson Pty Ltd

Energy rating (6.0)

Cundall (Brisbane)
Level 1, 147 Wharf Street, Spring Hill 4000 QLD
Cundall Johnston & Partners Pty Limited
Energy rating (6.0)

Suite 6, Level 4, 118 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000 VIC
S3G Pty Ltd

Energy rating (6.0)

DCCEE
2 Constitution Avenue, Canberra 2601 ACT
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

Energy rating (6.0)


12/127 Cambridge Street, Collingwood 3066 VIC
Actual Size

Energy rating (6.0)

Ecovantage
163 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park 3206 VIC
Ecovantage

Energy rating (6.0)

Ausgrid Wallsend Administration Building
145 Newcastle Road, Wallsend 2287 NSW
Ausgrid
Energy rating (6.0)
Water rating (0)

ENVIRON Australia
L3, 100 Pacific Hwy, North Sydney 2060 NSW
ENVIRON Australia
Energy rating (6.0)

Steensen Varming
160 Sailors Bay Road, NORTHBRIDGE 2063 NSW
Steensen Varming

Energy rating (6.0)

Local Government Super
100 Christie Street, St Leonards 2065 NSW
Local Government Super
Energy rating (6.0)

SHFA Planning & Infrastructure
66 Harrington Street, The Rocks 2000 NSW
Sydney Harbour Forshore Authority – Planning & Infrasrtucture
Energy rating (6.0)

Urban Workshop – SV
L28, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000 VIC
Sustainability Victoria
Energy rating (6.0)

Swiss Reinsurance
363 George Street, Sydney 2000 NSW
Swiss Reinsurance
Energy rating (6.0)

Quad 4
8 Parkview Drive, Homebush 2140 NSW
The GPT Group
Energy rating (5.5)
Water rating (6)