The GreenEdge development

GreenEdge, a nine storey multi-residential project by developer Richmond Icon in Melbourne, is targeting a nine star NatHERS energy rating for every apartment.

Gary Wertheimer, director of GIW Environmental Solutions, which was the ESD consultant, said the project was an “exemplar” in terms of sustainability.

Designed by Armsby Architects and constructed by Crema, the development comprises 42 apartments with a ground floor cafe and a rooftop self-sustaining sky garden with vegetable gardens, composting and a BBQ area. The project is also registered for a 4 Star Green Star – Multi Unit Residential rating.

Mr Wertheimer told The Fifth Estate the nine star NatHERS rating means the apartments at GreenEdge would require an annual heating and cooling energy contribution of less than 25 megajoules a square metre to maintain comfort conditions comparable to a standard new apartment of 114MJ a sq m.

Based on an apartment size of 50 sq m, this equates to a saving of approximately $88 a year, assuming airconditioning with an equivalent reverse cycle split system, he said.

The apartments have been designed to minimise the need for airconditioning. Fans are being installed in every apartment for summer cooling, more effective ventilation and for use in winter to drive hot air down to sitting and standing heights. Wherever possible, the apartments will have a dual aspect to facilitate natural cross-ventilation.

Double-glazing and high performance acoustic insulation being installed throughout has the double benefit of controlling noise while also adding to thermal efficiency.

All lighting throughout the apartments will be energy-efficient recessed LED downlights, and each dwelling will be provided with a shutdown switch at the entry, which will turn off all lighting and airconditioning when occupants leave.

The common area LED lighting has been designed to only directly illuminate areas of activity, and will incorporate motion detection to ensure it is only on when required. This is in contrast to many other developments where an estimated 30 per cent of external common area lighting is wasted because it goes into the sky, also adding to the overall issue of light pollution.

Photovoltaic panels are to be installed to the rooftop, and the power they generate will be used to offset common area power use. This will also reduce body corporate fees by saving the development an estimated $1300 a year or more in electricity costs. The balance of power not supplied by the PV array will be provided through green power purchase, resulting in the common areas achieving carbon neutrality.

Domestic hot water will be provided via boosted heat pump technology. Mr Werthemier said that heat pumps are three times more efficient than standard electric hot water heating, and that this, coupled with further offsite renewable energy, represented a clean energy option.

All apartments will be fitted out with energy efficient dishwashers, refrigerators and clothes washers rated at within one point of the highest rating available under the Australian Government’s Energy Rating labelling system. Induction cooktops are also being installed.

Low impact materials have been made a priority, starting with a 30 per cent reduction in Portland cement use across all concrete mixes compared to standard mixes.

Timber used in the project will be reused, recycled or accredited under either Forestry Stewardship Council or International Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. All PVC will be either “Best Environmental Practice” as accredited by Vinyl Council Australia or be substituted with a non-toxic PVC equivalent material.

Other key sustainability initiatives include:

  • Comprehensive environmental and waste management plans implemented during the demolition of the existing building and construction of GreenEdge
  • A dedicated storage area for the separation, collection and recycling of waste and waste chutes on each floor. There is also space being provided for the storage of over-sized household items to facilitate their re-use by other occupants of the building
  • Offsite prefabrication of the majority of kitchen and bathroom joinery to minimise wastage
  • Low volatile organic compounds and low- or no-formaldehyde products throughout
  • To encourage low-carbon commuting, each apartment will be provided with a secure bicycle storage cage, and cyclist facilities will be provided for visitors at the front of the development. The project being located within 2km of the CBD and well-serviced by public transport will also reduce reliance on car travel
  • Water-efficient WELS rated fixtures and fittings are being installed for all plumbing, and the clothes washers and dishwashers will be within one star of the highest WELS rating available
  • Rainwater harvesting will be installed to provide water for landscape watering and bin wash-out, and the fire sprinkler system will be provided with storage for maintenance drain downs and re-use on site

To ensure all the building systems such as lighting, hot water and HVAC perform at their optimum, a full commissioning process will be carried out, and a building users’ guide will be provided to ensure residents are aware of the sustainability aspects and the intent of the design.

A member of the Green Building Council of Australia, developer Richmond Icon is also currently nearing completion of the mixed-use redevelopment of the historic Dimmey’s building in Richmond.

Also designed by Armsby Architects and under construction by Crema, the project features a 10-storey apartment tower above a retail and commercial office podium created by redeveloping the original heritage building shell, which is being restored along with the site’s iconic clock tower.

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