Living in a strata building should not limit your ability to enjoy a low carbon/ low cost, sustainable lifestyle. There is more to sustainability than solar power and savings in power bills.
At the Perth Eco Fair on Sunday 3 April, the Green Gurus™ team launched its brand new Green Apartment Living Program aimed at empowering residents to live more sustainable lifestyles; enhancing the liveability of strata buildings in Western Australia.
The Program is not only defined by environmental and financial outcomes, but also has a focus on building the social ‘fabric’ and networks between the people who reside within a strata building and stakeholders including the strata managers and caretakers of the building.
The Green Gurus™ program and engagement process, will help build social capital between these parties enabling them to achieve rapid and measurable behaviour change through motivation of specific parties, nurturing networks and fostering collaboration within the building and improve occupant understanding of their role in best performing buildings.
As Green Gurus™ team member Eugenie Stockmann suggests “We want to help create a sustainable community and make it easy, fun and social. “
The Program focuses on seven main areas: Design, Sustainable Transport, Energy, Water, Waste, Food Production and Community.
This educational program is suitable for new and existing apartment buildings, villas, townhouses and survey-strata complexes.
For new buildings that were designed and built with long-term sustainability in mind, the program will inform owners and residents about the existing sustainability features, how they work and how they can benefit from them. For older, existing apartment buildings, the Green Gurus™ team works with the owners and residents towards retrofitting the building for sustainability and inspiring sustainable lifestyles within.
To kick start the Green Gurus™ Green Apartment Living program, Psaros a Perth based apartment developer and builder leading the way in sustainable apartments have launched ‘Psaros Place’, a Green Apartment Living program exclusively for Psaros apartment residents and owners.
Apartment living offers real sustainable lifestyle options. Increasingly, apartments are built or retrofitted with sustainable features such as for example renewable energy, energy and water saving technologies. In addition, many apartments offer sustainable transport options simply by being located near transport nodes, shops and other community facilities.
Griff’s list of significant contributions is lengthy! Some of these include Inaugural Board member of the now Sustainable Energy Association, Member of the HIA Environmental Planning Committee, Member of the Commonwealth Government Committee regarding the Technical Advisory Manual for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Member of two Disability Services Commission committees just to name a few.
Griff and his Solar Dwellings staff have been recognised with numerous awards. They’ve also received much recognition for their work on notable projects such as the:
Mandurah Links Sustainable Home
Subiaco Sustainable Demonstration Home
Quattro in Queens Park Sustainable Home
The creation of two 10 star homes in Hilton with Josh Byrne, landscape architect and Gardening Australia’s WA presenter.
One of the first homes that I ever designed in Perth was a home in West Leederville where I’d advised a client on a particular house, this house was a typical double brick and tile home. Nothing different to any other home except the layout of the rooms and placement of openings to make the house more efficient.
After the conversion the client had the plans valued and the agent said he had a buyer who would pay $80,000 more for the house, which was a considerable sum back then.
She then contacted me and confirmed that the choice to design a solar passive home would indeed increase the value of the property. The design went ahead and the property was built.
As a consequence of living in her previous home she found that she had been experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) syndrome. And it just so happens that every winter she would go back to England to spend the English summer with her mother.
When she moved into her new home she found that she was happier and didn’t feel the need to go back to England. The house was so bright and warm through winter she found that she stayed in the home and her mother came out to visit her.
The sale of both properties achieved not just a financial gain but also a positive lifestyle change. Once selling she approached me again to construct four solar passive investment properties in Subiaco.
Passive solar design cuts energy use by at least 50%
Using only 30% to 50% of the energy consumed by conventional homes, a passive solar home is also far more comfortable and liveable because it stays naturally warm in winter and cool in summer.
Passive solar design doesn’t require solar panels (although these can be added to a home to reduce running costs even more) but relies on intelligent design factors such as orientation of the home, placement of windows and choice of building materials.
The main components of passive solar design are:
Siting and orientation of the home, with living areas and large windows facing north, minimal windows to the east and west, and with the long axis of the home within 15° east or west of north.
Winter warmth and summer cooling is achieved by positioning windows so the sun enters in winter but not during summer.
Natural cooling is also achieved by window placement that allows cross ventilation.
Stable internal temperatures, resulting from appropriate materials, such as brick, concrete or stone, or stone, used in the right locations. Timber floors which can absorb the sun’s warmth in winter will release it back into the home in the evening, while external shading prevents summer sun entering.
Insulation is a barrier to heat flow, and most home builders include ceiling insulation as standard. Recommendations include ceiling, under-roof and some wall insulation to retain winter warmth and exclude summer heat.
Intelligent landscaping does a lot more than simply create an attractive exterior – it can protect a home from summer heat and maximize access to winter sun.
Other measures which will create an even greener home with a smaller environmental footprint include:
Non-chemical termite prevention, so the home and family are safe
Rainwater harvesting and other water efficiency measures
Low-allergen and non-toxic building processes and products, which are important for young families and anyone with allergies
Active solar design, such as photovoltaic power generation and solar water heating
Aerobic sewerage and waterless urinals
Grey water recycling systems and other technologies.
Savings & Benefits
What will building a passive solar home mean for you? It looks good, is healthy, saves on running costs, will age with you, will be bright and airy and will feel great.
It’s so much better for the environment and the future of our planet too – and a sustainable home costs you significantly less to run.
The real question is what it will cost if you don’t?
The car share market has grown rapidly in recent years, both globally and in Australia. Until recently, Perth was the only Australian city without a scheme, but things are about to change. The RAC published a paper on the topic recently exploring the role car sharing can play in WA and some local councils are actively supporting car sharing through their policy framework. And it is not just talk, UWA launched the first car share scheme in WA in June and Perth based developer Psaros said it will be incorporating car sharing in it’s Perth projects.
Car sharing: why, why and how?
‘Car sharing, which originated in Europe, provides members with short-term access to motor vehicles for personal and business uses. In so doing, it provides members with the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership and operation’ (RAC, 2015, p3).
The RAC published a paper recently titled “Exploring the role of car sharing in Perth”. This paper is a response to challenges such as a growing population and cost of living pressures which are affecting how we move around. Car sharing has been identified by the RAC as a real viable solution for cost of living pressures and congestion.
The RAC paper identifies a number of benefits of car sharing including reduced personal travel costs, support improved mobility, enhance viability of public transport, reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Car sharing can also have an impact on the urban form – more compact and connected.
Research shows that on average, a car is not used 96% of the time. One share car can take up to 9 private cars off the road. With an average cost of owning a car of $12,000, car sharing can provide real financial benefits.
Share car drivers take out a membership with a car share company. This provides access to their fleet of cars across the city, state and country. Users need to pre-register via mobile, ipad or computer and gain access to the car with a card or fob. Share cars can be parked in the street or in private car parks.
Amongst the success factors for a car share scheme are the specific location of the vehicles; the density of the car share network; the extent to which local governments, developers and land owners are supportive of car share; population density; and access to alternative transport for the daily work commute (RAC, 2015; Round, 2014).
Car sharing will not work everywhere and Perth definitely has had its share of false starts. ‘While there are likely to be many reasons, issues around scalability, having the right operating systems to provide seamless and attractive service, lack of political support and policy instruments, and public perception will likely have been amongst the potential stumbling blocks’ (RAC, 2015, p9)
For some time, Perth was the only city in Australia without a car share scheme.
In June 2015 the University of Western Australia launched its car share scheme; a WA first. This program provides a bank of six rental cars on-site that students and staff can use. The aim is to help make more parking spaces available for students, staff and visitors.
Multi Award winning developer Psaros has also committed to supporting car sharing and will incorporate share cars in their Perth projects. Mike Enslin (Psaros) in an interview with Channel 9 News said “A car share scheme is a big community benefit, not just to residents of the development, but also for people living in the area which is part of our ethos in terms of what we do as developers”.
To support the availability of car share bays, both the City of Fremantle and City of Vincent have a (draft) car share policy. The City of Vincent views car sharing as an alternative to private vehicle ownership and a valuable component of a sustainable transport system. They recently consulted the community on a new proposed policy which would facilitate and support the introduction and operation of car sharing within its municipal boundaries through the allocation of car shapes (on-street and in City-owned car parks), permission for car share spaces in private property, and enforcement of car share spaces. The City of Fremantle has already updated such a policy.
Demand for car sharing in Perth
In Perth, the RAC identified a number of areas with have potential for a car share scheme. The greatest potential have Belmont, Fremantle, Subiaco and Perth, followed by South Perth, Vincent, Cambridge and Victoria Park.
The RAC found that ‘there was a stronger interest in reducing the number of vehicles in their household amongst those who would be interested in joining a car sharing service’.
Figure 2 – Likelihood of using a car sharing service by postcode area (percentage). (Source: RAC, 2015, p7)
With increased density in the inner city areas, improvements in alternative transport options (particulary to work) and active support from (some) local governments and developers, the market for car sharing could be taking off in Perth. The RAC concluded that ‘the scale of the service(s), availability of vehicles and raising awareness about the true cost of vehicle ownership could help to make car sharing a more attractive proposition’ (RAC, 2015, p8).
The more we search for that illusive plot of land, the more vast our fair city becomes. And whilst you may get your cake, are you really eating it too? How much is your commute to work, really costing you?
The notion of living on the 1/4 acre block with your veggie patch, dog and 2.3 kids could soon be a thing of the past. The 1/4 acre block should be anyway. In order to improve not only our cost of living, but our quality of living as well, we need to move towards a more dense city. We’re long overdue for an overhaul of the idea that dense living isn’t truly living, a mental block in the Australia psyche.
The table below is from a recent study done by the Australasian Railway Association. They found that commuters travelling to work in the Perth CBD can spend anywhere between $9,000 (5km commute) to $22,000 (25 km commute) annually, taking Perth above national averages. Our higher parking fees and fuel prices adding fuel to the fire.
Yet, despite the high costs, 84% of Perth residents travel to work by car. Imagine the difference to our city if, even a quarter, changed their travel routine. Imagine if we had a better public transport system including the come-back oflight rail and the introduction of car sharing.
Shifting from our car-based commuting to public transport is a major key in reducing our costs as well as the added side effect of improving our health. Living close to work or close to public transport nodes, supporting transport oriented developments (TODs) and creating awareness around the true cost of our urban sprawl are stepping stones on our way to lowering our figures.
How do you get to work? And could you change the way you do?
Ever thought of having a go at growing a garden on your balcony? Maybe it’s time! It doesn’t have to be hard and there are heaps of options out there for those who are space-poor. Give it a go!
1) What do you like to eat?
Plant what you like to eat. You will find you are way more enthusiastic about looking after your garden when it benefits you in some way. If you’re not into cucumber, leave them out!
2) How much space do you have?
There’s no point in planting a pumpkin vine or artichoke on your balcony! These plants would not work in small spaces due to the size of the plant once mature. You need bang for your buck, more yield in your field. Here is a list of suitable plants:
Perennial Herbs such as Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Fennel and Tarragon
3) Join or start a community garden
Really don’t have the space? Why not join your local community garden! It’s a great way to meet your community, make friends and share knowledge. You never know…you might learn something!
4) Invest in a worm farm
This is the small space compost alternative. They’ll eat your food scraps and produce a fantastic organic fertiliser for your edible balcony! We especially like the variety of sizes from the sustainability guys here in Perth at WeatherWorks.
5) Think Up! Think Vertical!
Vertical garden options are endless and don’t need to be expensive to be functional and look good. Grab a pallet, source some dirt, snap up some seed and get planting.
6) Don’t be so hard on yourself
So your coriander died and your basil went to seed! Think of it as a learning experience, get back in the game and have another go. You will get better and you will learn about this stuff. Talk to people. Talk to your nonna, talk your neighbour who has better lemons that you. It’s amazing the stuff you’ll find out! When in doubt Google it. There is unlimited information out there about growing food in small spaces. Check out these guys for more info:
Don’t own your own home? Renting a house or apartment? You are not alone if you’re living in Perth’s unaffordable housing market! Here are 10 simple steps and some info to help save you money.
1) Switch off!
It really can be as easy as switching off your lights when not in use and switching off your standby items such as your television, DVD player and computers. We use a power board with individual switches. Easy!
2) Window and Door Seals
Another cheap option and as easy as sticking sticky tape to your windows. Raven brand has a heap of options available from most hardware outlets. Seals help to prevent cold air seeping into your home in winter.
3) Swap your light globes Change your light globes from the old power hungry incandescent ones to the new energy savers. Yes they may cost you a little more initially but they will last longer and save you money in the long run. Winning.
4) Curtains and Pelmets
Pelmets? Things of the late 80s and grandma’s right? Wrong! Turns out they help with the heating and cooling efficiency of your windows and curtains. Up to 15% in energy savings! In summer they help stopped heat from entering your home and in winter they stop the warm air from coming in contact with the windows. For more info, check this out.
5) Sustainable Public Transport Options Take the bus or the train. NExt time you’re heading into work, try out your local bus, train or CAT (many of these buses fueled by gas (!)) we believe you’ll find it easier than taking a car, sitting in traffic for an hour, costing you precious time and petrol and then having to try your darndest to find a car park thats long enough for your stay…not to mention the city parking cost! Thankfully TransPerth made it easier a month ago for those of us in Perth to find the closest option. Check it out now: TransPerth WA
6) On your bike! Save your petrol and car costs. Buy a bike. Pedal power is free and comes with added health benefits. There are some fantastic options out there for electric bicycles for those not keen on hills as well!
7) Stop buying plastic water bottles
Buy a reusable water bottle. Refill it. Repeat.
Think about it. It takes 3 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water. Millions of tonnes of CO2 and barrels of oil are produced each year plus the transport costs to get that water to you, not to mention the waste produced. Turn on your tap. Take some with you. It will save you $4 each bottle and you’ll have a clean conscious.
8) Buy a water efficient shower head
These are available from your local hardware outlets and can be super cheap. Low flow shower head will saves you water which saves you money.
9) Line dry
Take your wet washing outside. Here in Perth we have limited rain so line dry your clothing. It smells fresher, you use less energy and you get a work out lifting that clothes basket.
10) Ye Olde Baking Soda Do away with your expensive household cleaners. This stuff works. Ever combined Baking Soda with white vinegar in your sink? It’s like a science experiment! There is a tonne of info out there on natural home cleaning products, but why swap your Jiff for a chemical-free oasis? These tricks can save you money, time, chemical waste and chemical exposure.
I don’t know about you but the different types of lighting and globes that are available to us on the market these days is mind blowing. I’d just like to see what I’m doing at night time especially in the kitchen!
This report was written after the City of Vincent Industry Engagement Workshop on Sustainable and Affordable Housing for the 21st Century Lifestyle. It includes the stakeholder feedback we received from participants throughout the workshop.
Greening Strata Title Schemes in WA: Turning barriers into opportunities for individual owners to implement environmentally sustainable provisions in existing residential strata dwellings. Author: Chiara Pacifici, 2012