the orchards norwest
The Orchards, Norwest, Sydney

Residents of The Orchards community estate development at Norwest in Sydney will be able to save around 35 per cent of their power and gas costs thanks to an embedded energy and gas network created by Flow Systems for developer Sekisui House.

The power and gas embedded power network servicing the new $1 billion, the 1300-apartment precinct, about 40 kilemtres north west of Sydney, will generate 1GWh of free solar power each year via 24 tennis courts worth of rooftop solar panels. 

The news is part of a double coup for Flow Systems which has also just announced a recycled water sharing system between its Central Park and UTS in Broadway in Sydney.

A high rise rooftop solar system will provide power for common areas, including lobbies and corridors, a town centre, wellness centre, swimming pool and an outdoor cinema.

Sekisui House sales and marketing operations manager Paul Wainwright told The Fifth Estate that this is a big selling point in a country where energy prices are rising relentlessly and concern for the environment is growing.

“With ever increasing power costs it gives [prospective residents] a sense of that we are future proofing with the solar farm.”

He said that savings on energy generated by the on-premise solar panel system can be passed back to the community as recreational perks.

“When it’s not a financial burden, we can create a good social and community hub.”

Mr Wainwright said it’s commonplace for water features and other amenities to become run down and stop working because the maintenance cost are too high. This is something the developer has tried to avoid with an embedded network that powers communal facilities.

“Sekisui is about designing estates that get better over time, and that are designed in a way that harnesses and fits in with the contours of the landscape.”

He said that the retention of 100-plus trees on the site was an example of Sekisui’s responsive approach to masterplanning.

“Through masterplanning we wanted to retain as many trees as possible, although we had approval to knock them all down.”

As well as lowering the carbon footprint of the development, the fully grown trees provide huge benefits for thermal control in both summer and winter.

Another sustainability feature of the development is a natural rain garden that will run down the southern perimeter of the site. This water will used for the irrigation of the entire precinct, which includes more than four football fields worth of parkland.

Although the developer has had experience with onsite water recycling at Central Park in Broadway, the narrow shape of the Norwest site made it unsuitable for a recycling plant, said Mr Wainwright.

The development will also be in walking distance of a train station. The new Norwest Station to be around 10 minutes away, with the commute to the city expected to be around 40 and 50 minutes.

Stage one of the development is currently underway, with the full masterplan expected for completion in 2025.

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