By Lyn Drummond
10 February 2012 – Convincing customers to buy an apartment in the Commons, an eight star apartment building in Melbourne was an education in sustainability for real estate agent Onder Ozmetin.
Now, the agent admitted to The Fifth Estate, he is a convert to the concept.
The residential project marketing executive at Fitzroys property agency said “knowledgeable buyers” had taught him about sustainability. It’s influenced his turnaround and now he is working with the developer of The Commons to create another bigger environmentally sustainable development.
The new building will feature photovoltaics embedded into the facade of the building or balconies of the apartments.
“With a lot of PVs manufactured in China, they are now not as expensive as two or three years ago and are of high quality,” he said.
Mr Ozmetin said buyers were mostly attracted to the sustainable aspects of The Commons and knew a lot about them.
“I am always interested in structures but I used to look at vertical and rooftop gardens and think they were pretty silly,” he said.
“Now, it’s simple: Why do we sit under a tree on a hot day – because it’s nice and cool. The same principal is behind the rooftop gardens, they absorb some of the heat.
“Any other development you go to has a generic look, with polished stone and stainless steel appliances. This has a real raw sort of fit to it, with concrete exposed rather than suspended ceilings.
“Some real estate agents don’t get involved as they could from the ground floor. I deal with developers, work closely with architects. I see it differently from maximising the dollar. For example, will the buyer be receptive to this product?
“The town planner looks at what he can and cannot get through; the agent wants the product to sell well; the developer wants to maximise their yield, if they can get 100 unit rather than 80 that is what they will do,
“Real estate agencies generally don’t know enough about sustainability. They need to be educated, there should be a combination of everyone involved in the development, it is not happening as much as it could. It is taking too long,
“We should look to Europe as a benchmark. Some buildings have 100 per cent renewable energy, relying on buildings to generate electricity, others are at 60 per cent. The average in Victoria is 3 per cent ”.
Mr Ozmetin says government through building codes should pass legislation similar to the criteria for 6 star energy ratings but with a much broader reach.
The codes would specify that a certain percentage of a building – commercial and residential – had to incorporate renewable energies of some kind. It would be initially set at a conservative level but rise two or four per cent each year.
“It could include mandatory grey water recycling, mandatory stormwater tanks, standards for thicker glazing, which helps with fuel efficiency. I think it will take too long if we don’t legislate, “ he said.
He agrees ignorance can be a deterrent which make no sense – “If a development succeeds, you are getting better rates than standard rates. But not every developer cares about what they are building. We do need an education program, but the best message is to legislate through planning laws or building codes, so there are blanket rules throughout Australia, “ he said.