The Prince of Wales turned the first sod on Australia’s most sustainable housing development in Adelaide today, during the final leg of his whirlwind tour of South Australia.
Known as The Princes Terraces, the world-class development is the result of joint collaboration between the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community (PFBC), the South Australian Government and Defence Housing Australia (DHA).
Green Building Australia executive director Romilly Madew said “the impact of this development on the building industry could not be understated.”
“The market drivers between the office market and residential sector are different – home buyers are still coming to grips with the value of sustainability.
“This project helps to educate people about the benefits of green homes – which will ultimately increase the demand,” said Madew.
The townhouses will feature a number of locally sourced, low-carbon materials, including local concrete made with fly ash, local granite and recycled bricks sourced from Bowden’s old industrial buildings.
The orientation of the development will work to minimise summer solar gain and maximise natural cross ventilation, while the terrace façades have been designed to maximise natural daylight and manage glare.
Other features include photovoltaic solar panels to generate renewable energy and reduce the building’s peak power demand, low energy LED lighting, ceiling fans and high efficiency water fittings.
The toilets and laundry fittings will all be supplied with 100 per cent recycled water.
The combined design and fixtures are expected to reduce water and energy use by more than 50 per cent and cut tenants carbon emissions by more than 40 per cent, compared to a typical house.
The Foundation is one of the Prince’s charities, set up to address the broader global challenges of urbanisation and climate change, through sustainable building practices and architectural design befitting local climates.
PFBC executive director Victoria Chester said the project “brought alive” many of the Foundation’s key principles.
“Being the very first development in Australia to be awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating is a wonderful recognition of both our and Defense Housing Australia’s focus on meeting the urgent challenges of urbanisation and climate change.”
Defence Housing Australia development manager Shaun Barber said the partnership with the Prince’s Foundation had brought a fresh set of ideas to the project.
“Over the years, when we’ve talked about sustainability we’ve been very focused on energy and water.
“This broadening of ideas to include materials which are local and low embedded energy is really akin to what the Foundation is trying to achieve,” he said.
As part of the development agreement, six of the 12 homes will be used by Australian defence personnel and their families.
Barber said DHA are working with the Foundation to have the homes on display for a short period to show consumers the sorts of things they might consider in designing a sustainable home.
“We’re confident the Prince’s Terraces will set a new benchmark for residential development, and will show Australians that green features make for a smart investment,” said Madew.
South Australia’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning John Rau said “the Prince’s Foundation has projects all over the world including in the UK, China and the Galapagos Islands but this will be its first project in this part of the world.”
“It is a real coup for South Australia that The Prince’s Foundation has chosen to undertake its first Australian terrace development in Adelaide,” he said.
Construction is expected to start at the end of the year.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.