According to The Economist’s Global Liveability Survey 2016, Melbourne’s remains the world’s most livable city for the sixth year running, and judging by the hike in eco-friendly development projects, it could soon bring home the medal as the planet’s greenest metropolis as well. With the upgrade to solar power we’ve seen in the CBD (Central Business District) of late and the Melbourne Water’s pledge to a more sustainable and livable Melbourne encompassing a number of projects, we’re witnessing a rise of environmentally conscious developments that will change the face of Victoria’s capital for good, for the better, and for the greener, too.
Tesla Town on the Horizon
Over in Alphington, some 7 kilometers north-east of the CBD, the city authorities intend to build a tiny suburb named YarraBend that will feature state-of-the-art houses fitted with solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls, as well as electric car charging stations. Devised as the world’s first Tesla town, the suburb will rise on 16 acres of land on the site of Alphington’s former paper mill, with scenic views of the Yarra River frontage and easy access to lush parks, community gardens, bike paths, and the elevated garden known as the Paper Trail. Each of the YarraBend homes will be built in keeping with sustainability, unity with the environment, and holistic living inter-woven with history and heritage. The use of eco-friendly features will enable YarraBend households to reduce water waste by 43%, slice energy expenditure by 34%, and trim landfill by a whopping 80%. Rated 6 out of 6 by EnviroDevelopment, YarraBend is truly green news for the city, and first residents will be able to move into their new homes by late 2017.
101 Collins Gone Solar
One of Melbourne’s best-known corporate buildings, 101 Collins won a 4.0 Star NABERS* energy rating back in 2012, but its green efforts didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, a total of 180 solar panels were installed on the mast, turning the building into Australia’s tallest commercial solar panel system. With the upgrade to solar power, 101 Collins will be able to produce 50,000kWh per year and thus save energy equivalent to annual electricity use in 12 average households and cut annual greenhouse gas emission by approximately 67 tons. The $4,000 received from the City’s Commercial Solar Rebate Program will definitely be green-spent, and for the common good – and municipal green, too.
*NABERS = National Australian Built Environment Rating System
Sol Invictus Rising High
Formerly a semi-dilapidated industrial zone, Melbourne’s neighborhood of Southbank will soon see the rise of a building completely off the grid. Named Sol Invictus Tower (the Invincible Sun), the 60-floor skyscraper will feature an exterior shell covered in solar cells, along with a battery system to store the energy required to fully service every of the 520 apartments in the building. In addition to the solar twist, the skyscraper will be outfitted with double-glazed glass and LED lighting throughout, and its roof will feature wind turbines for a top self-sustainability coat.
Platinum in a Green Coat
One more green building that will soon emerge on the Southbank horizon, Platinum Tower will feature a rainwater harvesting system, water-efficient appliances by Miele, and one of the tallest vertical gardens in the world – a green wall stretching across six floors. On top of the sustainable design, Platinum will have a 40-meter pool, fully equipped gym and sauna, top-floor Sky Lounge with 360° views of the surrounding cityscape, and 170 bike park racks to encourage eco-friendly transportation. Seated in the heart of Crown Precinct, Platinum will offer impressive views of the bay, city, Albert Park Lake, and the Eureka Tower, all within a walking distance from the CBD.
Flats Fit for a Green Hero
Over at 118 Russell Street, another project recently greened up Melbourne. A total of 200 solar panels were installed on the Hero Building to curb the utility bills and greenhouse gas emission. The 50kW solar panel structure will provide energy for the 60-year-old building’s ventilation and lighting system, and the total cost of the upgrade will take approximately 8 years to pay off. The project was co-funded by the Sustainable Melbourne Fund, and it will help slice emissions by 66 tons a year and generate 53,000 kWh of electricity per year, thus trimming energy consumption by a figure equal to average annual electricity use in over 13 residential households. The Hero building update shows that even old buildings can rock a green guise for a brighter future, and it also offers an incentive for owners whose property has a few decades under its belt to carry out modernization projects in line with environmental consulting experts’ recommendations.
Melbourne’s face is changing for the greener, and though it will take a while for the eco-friendly projects to be completed, the future of Victoria’s capital will be much brighter and safer for both the residents and the environment. Let’s just hope that other major cities around the world take Melbourne’s cue soon and implement projects to help bring about a sustainable change in the way we perceive and treat the environment.
Zoe Clark writes about green building in Australia