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.
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 main finding show that there is very strong support for more medium & higher density apartment-style developments around transport hubs (71% support) and in inner areas (68% support).
The top three priorities for Perth’s future are;
– an increase in public transport (train, light rail, buses) (95% support)
– more eco-friendly buildings that generate their own power, collect rainwater and use less energy (89% support)
– well-designed, safer bike paths to get to work and other places (86% support)
The majority of respondents (69%) do not consider low density living in detached single housing to be a more affordable option and of the 3 in 5 inner city residents who are likely to move house in the next 5 years; 73% would consider living in medium density housing and 50% in higher density housing.
I am constantly amazed by the bad news on sustainability and climate change in the media nowadays. Fortunately for me, in my position, I am also constantly exposed to a bunch of upbeat, sophisticated, up-to-date blogs, e-newsletter, websites and other pro-sustainability businesses who have a plethora of good news and info to share.
Sustainability can be such a grey area to be discussed at dinner parties. Each of us has drawn our own line in the sand, deciding to what degree we will implement it into our lives. Seeing so much doom and gloom can get a gal down. Pleading ignorance was so much easier! So I thought I’d share some of the good news stories you may not see in your everyday travels around the interwebs.
1) Sustainable building materials
Timbercrete, based in Australia, started in 1994 when potter Peter Collier devised his own formula for bricks. Timbercrete is a multi-award winning and environmentally sustainable masonry building product significant advantages over standard clay and concrete bricks, including saving huge amounts of energy and avoiding the pollution that regular brick create. You can have your brick and use it too!
Perth faces a huge problem in our urban sprawl. (See our post on the cost of commuting in Perth.) Changes to the way we think about high-density living coupled with changes to planning policy will result in a more liveable city and who doesn’t want that? Which is precisely why Fremantle council have recently voted to change the rules and introduce smaller infill housing to create denser, more diverse housing and rental options in an area where the average house price is now around $800,000!
Did you know that 1/4 of Australian homes are powered by the sun!? And that continues to grow even with the current Australian government talking about removing support for this clean, green energy supply!
The solar revolution is happening around the globe. Despite all the bad press we see in Australia, renewable energy is being readily embraced around the globe with numbers on the increase. This Spanish island will be running on 100% renewable energy within the next months and totally done away with fossil fuels. Who’s to say this cannot be implemented and accepted right here on our island? Imagine the future of sustainable housing then!
5) Sharing is caring
Imagine not having to pay for your car insurance, tyres, service, parking parking bay in the city, fuel or wear-n-tear. (That’s money you could put towards things like a holiday to see the Maldives before they disappear?) Car share schemes like GoGet are becoming the new norm in cities around the world. Why pay extra for an apartment with a car park when you live on a main public transport route? And not only car sharing! Bike sharing, community gardens and tool sharing schemes are all becoming the new norm.
See? Good news stories about sustainability and housing. Have you got a good news story? Please share yours with us on our Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!