Green communities: Loop leads the way
A new development in Canberra’s CBD boasting geothermal heating and cooling systems, and integrated wastewater systems has become the pilot project for a new sustainability rating tool.
Rock Development’s Loop precinct development has become the first registered Green Star – Communities pilot project. Developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), the Green Star – Communities rating tool is one of the world’s first independent, transparent, national schemes able to assess and certify the sustainability of community level projects.
The program is a voluntary rating tool that provides best practice benchmarks and third-party verification of the sustainability of community and precinct-wide developments. According to the GBCA, the Green Star – Communities tool is expected to drive more sustainable, productive and livable communities.
Released in June 2012, the tool was developed in close collaboration with the market, including all three tiers of government, public and private sector developers, professional services providers, academia, product manufacturers and suppliers. The GBCA brought together industry and all levels of government to create the rating tool, which will benchmark community developments against six categories:
- Economic prosperity
“Green Star – Communities will support the planning, design and delivery of communities, precincts and neighborhoods that prioritise environmental sustainability,” Romilly Madew, GBCA chief executive, states. “This can include minimising energy and water consumption, and reducing dependence on motor vehicles – alongside broader issues such as economic prosperity, livability and community health and wellbeing.”
THE FIRST REGISTERED GREEN STAR – COMMUNITIES PILOT PROJECT
The 40,000 square meter Loop precinct will incorporate 338 apartments, 8,575 square metres of office space, retail space for cafes, restaurants and specialty stores, as well as parklands, walkways, communal gardens and recreation areas. Loop will encourage European-inspired street life with cafes, restaurants, marketplaces and shops opening onto shared spaces, landscaped pathways and parkland.
Rock Development believes that Loop will set the benchmark for world’s best practice for sustainable community living and property development. The project features modern Green Star rated buildings combining retail, residential and commercial spaces.
Sustainable initiatives employed throughout the new precinct include:
- the use of recycled building materials
- solar microgeneration systems
- geothermal HVAC systems
- electric vehicle plug-in points
- integrated rainwater and wastewater systems; and
- rooftop gardens.
“We are proud to have the first registered Green Star – Communities pilot project,” Maria Efkarpidis from Rock Development Group comments. “Loop will provide opportunities for everyone to participate in an active, enjoyable and community-oriented lifestyle and will set new benchmarks for world’s best practice for sustainable community living and property development.”
Innovative urban planning is at the heart of Loop’s design, with Rock Development Group’s plan for the precinct including Green Star-rated buildings, electric vehicle recharge points, a residential car pooling scheme, precinct-wide energy generation, water capture and waste management, and a focus on healthy, active living.
PILOT GREEN INITIATIVES
The Loop precinct development project, which is expected to be completed by 2013, is at the forefront of sustainable innovation, putting sustainable design and green living within the grasp of more Canberra residents by making it easily accessible and an attractive way of life. It will provide all life’s necessities within walking distance, reducing dependence on vehicles and, therefore, reducing carbon emissions.
Loop generates its own power from rooftop solar panels and wind turbines. Advanced geothermal systems use the earth to regulate air temperature and deliver heating and cooling, while rooftop gardens insulate the buildings.
The project has drastically cut waste with recycled materials being used during construction. Moreover, the development also includes a rainwater capturing system, while wastewater is recycled and returned to the precinct, and composting is also done on site.
Residents can monitor their electricity usage in a precinct wide energy management system. Electric vehicles will have plug in points and excess electricity is returned to the grid.
Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of the stable temperatures of the earth through the year to heat and cool the Loop’s buildings. A liquid/gas medium is circulated through underground pipes absorbing some heat from the ground in winter and exporting all heat to the ground in summer. According to the developers, this energy efficient heating and cooling system assists in reducing total greenhouse gas emission by 50 percent per year.
“Green Star -Communities is an important step for the Australian building and construction industry. It follows global trends that consider the sustainability of entire communities and precincts from the beginning to the end of the development process. This tool will set the standard for building genuinely green communities,” Efkarpidis concludes.
This article was originally published on the Light Home Magazine Website, an informative hub for designers, builders and renovators who have discovered the benefits of using light weight, sustainable building materials.