Riverside Group is taking a proactive approach to encouraging low carbon travel, offering a free bike to new residents in stages two and three of its Jaques Richmond urban renewal project in Melbourne.
Riverside sales and marketing director Kristine Lee said 270 bikes would be given away across the project’s 263 new apartments. It was it part of a broader sustainability focus on the part of the developer, she said, and one that extended into the commercial property activities of parent company Riverlee Group.
At Jaques Richmond the development will also be installing tram tracker screens in the lobbies, along with displaying cycle and walking paths for Richmond and surrounds. It is also providing two car share spaces and seven share bicycles.
Ms Lee said sustainability had been a focus throughout all three stages of the urban renewal project, which is being built on a site formerly occupied by Jaques Engineering since 1885. Riverside is only the second owner of the site, having purchased it from the original owners.
The first stage of the project, comprising 16 townhouses and 93 apartments, was completed in 2013. The original bricks of the engineering workshop were reused in the new building, and where supplementary bricks were required, the builder, Merkon, purchased seconds in order to maintain aesthetic congruence with the heritage bricks. Timber and steel from the original building and site is also being reused where possible across all three stages.
The design by Fender Katsalidis features an extensive area of open landscaping in the centre of the precinct and also a roof garden area, with timber decking using recycled timber from the site and landscaping irrigated by reused grey water. Grey water is also being captured and reused for the retail and building management areas.
High-performance double-glazing is being used throughout, and solar-boosted gas hot water installed. Timber is also being used extensively for floorboards and balcony soffits, and vertical greening elements have been designed for the walls separating various parts of the precinct.
Natural light and a mixed mode ventilation system that uses high volumes of fresh air has been used for all common areas, including the car parking.
The development has a waste management strategy for residents, and is incorporating facilities for materials sorting.
Stage two is due for completion in August 2016, and Ms Lee said 95 per cent of the apartments have already sold out. Of the 109 apartments of stage 1, 70 per cent have sold to owner-occupiers, and only one apartment to date has sold to an offshore investor.
“We didn’t aim to sell offshore,” she said.
The demand for three-bedroom apartments was so high that the design for stage three has been reconfigured down from 88 apartments to 55 to increase the number of larger apartments to 10 three-bedroom floor plans. This stage will commence construction in the next few months, with completion due at the end of 2016.
In general, the project has been bucking the tiny trend, with the average minimum size for one-bedroom apartments 66 square metres of internal space, plus private outdoor space.
Riverside future-proofing portfolio
Riverside is part of the Riverlee Group, a family-run firm founded by architect and town planner Clement Lee in 1993. Mr Lee has been undertaking property developments in both Australia and Malaysia for more than four decades, and his other Australian property sector businesses also include Asset 1 and WTC Group.
In addition to Melbourne projects across commercial, residential, hospitality and retail, Riverlee has developed projects in Hobart, Adelaide, Malaysia and Queensland.
Riverside Group is active across the retail and commercial property space, and has been targeting high sustainability outcomes for its new build developments and undertaking rolling program of upgrades across existing assets with the aim of achieving an average of 4.5 star NABERS across the portfolio.
At 179 Queen Streeet, Melbourne, a federal government Green Building Fund grant supported a program of upgrade works to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions that resulted in the achievement of a four star NABERS rating.
Works commenced in 2010 and included capital replacement upgrade of the main switchboard, condensing boiler, electric chillers, controls, pumps and motors and installation of a trigeneration plant. The plant was sized to export surplus energy to the grid, and yields power credits for the property, Ms Lee said.
“Unlike new buildings, existing buildings such as 179 Queen Street are more challenging to improve and require substantial capital improvements to achieve a rating of this calibre,” Ms Lee said.
370 Docklands Drive was a speculative development in the Docklands precinct comprising a seven-storey A-grade building with 7150 sq m of office space and 140 car parks. It was awarded a 5 Star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of Australia for ESD initiatives including high levels of natural light and fresh air, energy efficient lighting and heating services, rainwater collection and a black water treatment plant. Riverside sold the building in 2012 for $38.5 million.
At 369 Royal Parade, Parkville, the first stage of efficiency upgrades to the 13-level office building completed in mid-2012 delivered savings of over $95,000 in the 2013/14 financial year. This comprised a 32.7 per cent saving on electricity use and a 40.6 per cent saving on gas use achieved through work including installing two new high-efficiency magnetic bearing compressor evaporative condenser chillers, variable speed driven chilled water pumps, chilled water system buffer tank, new air handling units, a new high-efficiency condensing mechanical heating water heater and dedicated variable speed driven pump. The building controls were also modernised with the use of a web-based building management and control system and adaptive (dynamic) system control strategies.
Stage two works are currently underway to achieve a NABERS rating of 4.5 stars by 2016. The program includes an upgrade to the lift mechanical system and installation of regenerative drives, which are expected to reduce overall building energy demand by up to 75 per cent, as the lift drives convert dissipated heat into energy that is fed back into the building internal electricity utility where it can be used by other building systems.
Ms Lee said the business case for upgrading buildings was based on both tenant retention and to ensure assets met the kind of benchmarks the market would be seeking in the future.
“If [a property owner] doesn’t install those kinds of initiatives now, in five to 10 years they will be left behind.”