A sustainable place to call home

A sustainable place to call home


Finding a sustainable place to call home has never been more important, and now it looks like Brisbane could become a world leader. During July, Aria Property Group and Koichi Takada Architects lodged their development application to build the world’s largest green residential building in sunny South Brisbane.

A new sustainable benchmark for Australia: Brisbane is set to receive the world’s greenest residential building; Queensland could start to set sustainability standards for body corporates the world over.

Australia plans to become a front-runner in sustainability and the built environment

Plans for a 30-story tower that will have more than 1,000 trees and 20,000 plants is being called ‘The Urban Forest’. The tower is set to create a new sustainable benchmark for Australia and is designed to do much more than add to Brisbane’s skyline. The Urban Forest is being created to increase the city’s biodiversity and reduce the city’s ecological footprint.

With buildings accounting for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually, it’s exciting to see Australia planning to become a front-runner in sustainability and the built environment.

While not all of us will be lucky enough to reside in one of the building’s 382 residential apartments, there are design features and assets that all body corporates could learn from and consider to become more sustainable:

  1. How can I make my apartment more sustainable?

  2. Programs to make sustainability easier and put more money in your pocket

1. How can I make my apartment more sustainable?

Research shows that the built environment’s relationship with energy and carbon dioxide is complex. Buildings produce emissions and use energy on multiple levels which vary depending on how the building is constructed, how residents use it, and where the building is located and its climate.

While The Urban Forest is an architectural marvel, it will have features that body corporates across Queensland could think about introducing into their building. It’s important to remember that we won’t achieve the sustainability levels that we need unless apartments and communities become proactive.

Simple green features that body corporates could include:

  • Increasing foliage via the installation of planter boxes on balconies for spreading or climbing plants
  • Installation of hanging plants on balconies and within common property areas
  • Planting trees in outdoor common areas or potting trees for indoor common areas
  • Space for bicycles to encourage green modes of transport
  • Electric vehicle charging stations.

Planting trees make a huge difference. As a tree grows, it can consume around 21kgs of carbon dioxide per year and from that releases enough oxygen for one human to breathe for two years. This is one of the reasons The Urban Forest will contain more than five times the number of trees found in Brisbane’s Musgrave Park which is nearby the proposed building site.

Creating a sustainable place to call home is also something local councils encourage Queenslanders to consider when it comes to design, stating that the Queensland climate requires appropriate design and building features. Councils are now encouraging residential buildings to embrace our natural climate by designing for natural breezes, shaded outdoor spaces, and protection from harsh sun and rain. To help do so, some Queensland councils are recommending owners check out the Australian Government’s Your Home Design Manual.

2. Programs to make sustainability easier and put more money in your pocket 

Creating a sustainable place to call home goes further than enhancing design and encouraging the use of plants in common areas or private lots. There are also programs like the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) for Apartment Buildings that will help increase sustainability and save money.

NABERS is used to help save on utility bills by rating your building and benchmarking it to similar buildings. NABERS will measure the energy and water efficiency of your building’s common property assets — such as lifts, lobbies, car parks, gyms and pools — to find out where you can save and reduce on wastage. NABERS will provide you with a rating that, when sustainability measures are in place, can increase your property value and your property’s attractiveness to prospective investors.

BCS, thanks to being part of the PICA Group family network of businesses, can act as your government certified NABERS assessor who can walk you and your property through the process and make going green easy.

According to a three-year study funded by the Australian Research Council and the federal government, and undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology, properties with sustainability features sell for at least 10% more. The study also found that properties with sustainable features sell, on average, 13 days sooner than properties without.

Other than the environments dire need for body corporates to get behind sustainable programs, there is also a large financial motivator to do so too.

A helpful tip for body corporates to remember when it comes to making sustainability decisions for your common property, body corporates can’t (except for in very limited circumstances) have by-laws that ban energy-efficient features or fixtures. These include sustainable infrastructure assets like solar hot water systems being banned merely to preserve external appearances. For more information, check out the body corporate fact sheet on energy efficient-features.

If you’d like to find out more about maximising on savings, driving energy efficiencies, and getting a NABERS rating for Apartment Buildings, visit here. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about how we are supporting sustainability, visit our CommunityGreen page.

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