A frank assessment of One Planet Community developments in Fremantle

Josh Byrne hosts a discussion on One Planet Commuities

As the dust from construction settles and residents prepare to move in to Australia’s first three ‘One Planet Community’ developments, the City of Fremantle and Property Council invited the proponents of each project to participate in a frank discussion about their experience.

The event, facilitated by Josh Byrne as part of the Freo Sustainable Home Expo, was attended by almost 200 people including representatives from the state’s leading planning and development authorities, local government, the development industry and local community – all keen to hear about the developers’ assessment of utilising the One Planet Living framework for their large-scale, multi-residential developments.

Almost 200 people attended the discussion

Bioregional’s One Planet Principals were designed to create attractive, inspiring places that help people to live better, happier and healthier lives, within a fair share of our one planet’s resources.

There are fourteen One Planet Communities around the world, and three of them are in Fremantle – White Gum Valley (WGV) by LandCorp, Evermore by Yolk Property and LIV apartments by Defence Housing Australia (DHA).

When asked why they chose the One Planet Living framework, Greg Ryan from LandCorp pointed to the existing relationship between Bioregional and the Fremantle Council, saying “the local community and City of Fremantle are avid supporters of sustainability”.

Cade Taylor from DHA said the principles of Health and Happiness; Culture and Community; and Local Economy and Equity was an attractive point of difference between One Planet Living and other sustainability frameworks.

Key sustainability outcomes

Solar PV and battery storage at Evermore

In alignment with the zero carbon energy principle, all three developments included the installation of an embedded solar network.

WGV residents can expect a reduction in energy use of 60-70 per cent through the use of solar and batteries, energy efficient design, new technology and appliances and climate responsive landscaping.

Evermore also has a battery system although, with uncertainty around bank approvals and strata by-laws on how to manage solar with batteries in multi-residential apartments, this come with an element of financial risk.

Sub-metering has been installed in all LIV apartments so residents can see their real-time energy and water use.

The three developments achieved the local and sustainable food principle through the provision of edible gardens, while WGV has provided residents with information detailing where they can source local and organic food.

Public art that responds to the wind at LIV

LIV have installed a Gaia machine – an organic dehydrator which converts food waste into compost. The compost will be used in communal areas and for residents to use on balcony plantings.

The Evermore kitchens have also been specifically designed to accommodate three bins so residents can dispose of waste appropriately.

Each of the developers used recycled materials in their developments, with Cade Taylor from DHA reporting a 95 per cent recycling rate during the construction and development phase.

Materials reused at LIV included repurposed bricks and timber, while Evermore apartments installed recycled composite cork flooring.

To meet their target of a 60 per cent reduction in potable water use under the sustainable water principle, WGV installed rainwater tanks and greywater systems, and all residents have access to a community bore that is used to irrigate the waterwise landscaping.

LIV installed exceptional public art by Fremantle artist Rick Vermey in the public open space that integrates LED lights that respond to wind changes affecting turbines on the roof.

Challenges and lessons learnt

Electric car share at Evermore

The three developers warned that One Planet Living accreditation was not a quick and easy task, and would not necessarily suit all developments.

Evermore noted the difficulty in quantifying the risk of adopting the One Planet Framework to investors and buyers, with Tao Bourton saying there was “no certainty on what you will spend and what you will get in return”.

Mitigating buyer concerns was another challenge – for example, convincing someone that solar passive design and good cross ventilation means they won’t need air conditioning.

The developers agreed that delivering in larger volumes made sustainability features more affordable, allowing a happy medium between good sustainable design and financial cost.

Landcorp and DHA highlighted the importance of appropriate data for monitoring progress against each principle, particularly for annual One Planet reporting. All three developers highlighted the intangible criteria and subjective nature of the principles as a particular challenge.

Despite the challenges, when the three developers were asked if they would do it again, the resounding answer was ‘yes’, with Evermore’s Tao Bourton saying their project had received a lot of attention and been a huge success.

Sales people for LIV apartments said there were very few buyers who weren’t interested in sustainable features.

LandCorp said feedback from WGV residents had been positive, with residents showing pride in their surroundings and creating a ‘WGV Ecovillage’ Facebook page for residents to interact with one another.

Yolk Property has started their second One Planet Living development already, called ‘The Amble’, which includes an innovative solar pilot project where residents are guaranteed 40 per cent off their daytime solar bills.

There is currently no metric for comparing sustainability initiatives or energy efficiency of homes.

Western Australia lacks any form of mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency for homes being bought, sold or leased, which would help residents understand the benefits and judge the value of sustainability initiatives and de-risk the investment by developers in sustainability features.

As measures to reduce our impact on the environment become more desirable for consumers and more commercially viable for developers, One Planet provides a holistic framework that other developments can apply.

Article by Rachel Pemberton (Councillor, City of Fremantle) and Annabelle McGuiness (Sustainability Officer for the City of Fremantle)

The One Planet Community discussion was held on Thursday 13 September at Liv Apartments in Fremantle as part of the inaugural Freo Sustainable Home Expo.