Hesperia managing director Ben Lisle

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has dipped its toes into low carbon building materials by committing $95 million towards a carbon neutral Perth logistics and industrial facility that will be built with Boral’s low carbon concrete.

The work on the 56-hectare Roe Highway Logistics Park is the work of a consortium led by Hesperia and its development partners Fiveight and Gibb Group.

The green bank’s foray into embodied carbon will include the construction of at least five new warehouses from low carbon materials. Numbers crunched by Edge Environment have shown that the low carbon concrete alone will save 42 per cent of emissions compared to traditional concrete.

According to Hesperia managing director Ben Lisle, Boral’s product is much lower in emissions than traditional concrete because it replaces Portland cement, which is emissions-intensive due to the chemical process of limestone calcination, with industrial fly-ash and recycled aggregates.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth expects the project to influence supply chains in the construction industry, potentially helping to kickstart Australia’s uptake of low carbon materials.

“This offers a new pathway to cut emissions from the supply chain, known as scope three emissions, and provides a world-leading example of low carbon options for the industry.”

A lack of demand for building manufacturer’s low carbon products has been flagged as one of the reasons uptake of these materials has been slow in Australia, as has the reluctance of customers to pay more for these products. The building and construction industry’s unwillingness to take risks on a new material has also been identified as a barrier.  

Other sustainability features

As well as the low carbon concrete, around 2MW of solar PV will be installed across the site’s warehouses to generate clean energy for tenants. The solar system will be accompanied with smart inverters, smart metering, power factor correction and voltage control.

Other sustainability initiatives include:

  • on-site water recycling
  • storm water management systems
  • low energy lighting
  • double glazing
  • high performance insulation
  • native trees planted across the estate

Hesperia’s ambitions on climate action

According to Mr Lisle, attracting environmentally-conscious tenants is a key driver for pursuing carbon neutral warehouse facilities.

“Roe Highway Logistics Park is both setting a new standard for sustainability and meeting the needs of many companies for initiatives that align with their overall values and long-term commitment to the environment,” he said.

He also told The Fifth Estate that his company has been compelled to act on climate change in recognition that the property sector is responsible for around 30-40 per cent of GHG emissions globally.

The business offset its operational emissions to become climate neutral last year and is now aspiring to deliver carbon neutral projects only. While offsets will be part of these projects, Mr Lisle is committed to driving down building emissions first.  

This goal is not only targeted at the Western Australian developer’s industrial and logistics facilities, where it has a strong presence, but its residential, retail, hospitality and commercial projects as well.

He said reducing upfront embodied emissions is one component, which is why the company is experimenting with low carbon materials. The developer is also interested in using recyclable materials, he said.

Achieving carbon neutrality also involves maximising renewable energy to keep the carbon footprint down of occupants and tenants.

While the developer is committed to providing low emissions real estate options for tenants and occupants, he said it cannot take responsibility for lowering the emissions of its tenants.

The Roe Highway Logistics Park’s existing tenant base includes companies in logistics and freight as well as oil and gas tenants.

“These tenants are going to go somewhere, so what we are saying is we will provide the most environmentally effective place for them to be.”

Tenants include Sandvik, CHEP, Silk, Northline, KTrans, and Expro. The site is currently 75 per cent committed.