Top winners at this year prestigious Banksia Awards included a Defence Housing project, Sunshine Coast Council and Icon Water.

Breathe Architecture, DKO Architecture and Oculus have snagged a Banksia award for the Arkadia residential development in Alexandria, Sydney.

The multi-residential, 152 dwelling building was developed by Defence Housing Australia, with more than 50 per cent of the site occupied by defence force personnel and their families.

The project’s sustainability credentials include the use of half a million bricks salvaged from buildings demolished in NSW, helping to keep down the embodied carbon of the project.

The fossil fuel-free building uses passive solar design to minimise the reliance on mechanical heating and cooling. An interesting touch intended to foster a sense of community in the building is cross ventilation that relies on keeping windows and doors in neighbouring dwellings open (this is only in some apartments).

Social sustainability is central to the project. The building is broken into four separate “lift cores” so that each group of residents have their own rooftop garden on an intermediary floor. The idea is to break the shared social spaces into smaller groups, smaller subsets of residents will allow neighbours to get to know everyone.

There’s also a shared rooftop space accessed by the whole building that will have a chicken coop and beehives.

The project is also helping first home buyers break into the housing market by offering a 5 per cent deposit.

The project’s designers won the Banksia medium business award.

The Sunshine Coast Council in Queensland took out the Banksia Government Award for its strategic work to improvie the health of the region’s environment.

The council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy includes preserving flood storage within the Blue Heart, or the Maroochy River Catchment, to help with flood management. The council also has a progressive, long term strategy to manage the impacts of sea level rise.

Yandina Creek Wetland

“Our council is working with our community on some ground-breaking, significant projects that will preserve the natural environment, ecosystems and liveability of our Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said.

Icon Water, the supplier of water and sewerage services to the Australian Capital Territory, won the Gold Banksia Award for its clever reuse of agri-ash, spoil and water treatment solids.

Its circular economy strategy, “No opportunity wasted”, is intended to transform the organisation from a water utility into a resource recovery business as well.

It’s now using its water and sewage by-products for fertilising soils and farmland, creating biochar and more.

Other winners are Yume Food (Small Business Award), OzHarvest (Banksia NFP & NGO Award), Millennium Kids Inc (Banksia Community and Charity Award), Place Agency Consortium and The University of Melbourne (Banksia Research and Academia Award) and the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (Minister’s Award for the Environment).

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