How Defence Housing Australia built the greenest residential project in the country
For its Prince’s Terrace housing project in Adelaide, Defence Housing Australia went above the call of duty where sustainability is concerned.
When Adelaide was drowning in heat last summer, with temperatures regularly above 40 degrees celsius, Air Force squadron leader Sarah Jackson and her husband, pilot Glenn Salmon, hardly noticed.
The reason? As the first tenants of Defence Housing Australia’s new The Prince’s Terrace project, they were luxuriating in the kind of cool that only a building given a six-star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) can create.
“The house was so cool, we rarely used our air-conditioner,” Jackson says. “And we didn’t have huge power bills.”
The project has received a swag of recognition on top of being the only residential project in the country to get the six-green-star rating. This includes being named Green Building of the Year in the 2018 Architecture and Design Sustainability Awards and winning the 2018 Urban Development Institute of Australia award (SA) for environmental excellence.
Defence Housing Australia (DHA) collaborated with the Prince’s Trust Australia and Renewal SA on the project, which consists of eight terraces and four apartments in the Adelaide precinct of Bowden, an emerging neighbourhood north of the city.
Sustainability was the cornerstone of the project from the beginning. Keys to this were incorporating sustainable products and technology such as LED lighting, high-efficiency water fittings and photovoltaic solar panels; ensuring that emissions hidden in the supply chain were reduced (both in manufacturing and transportation); an integrated passive design to improve thermal comfort and maximise light and natural cross-ventilation; and using recycled stormwater for non-drinking purposes.
Hundreds of certified and accredited materials were sourced, including sustainably sourced timber, locally sourced steel, environmentally friendly plasterboard, carpets and door hardware, and low-toxicity paints and sealants.
Local, low-carbon materials were another key component. These include locally made concrete with blast furnace slag content, local granite, 100-year-old bricks salvaged from heritage demolition sites, Zego foam blockwork and locally manufactured pavers and fabricated wrought-iron balustrades.
Each dwelling is predicted to use 50 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less potable water than similar buildings. There will also be a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to a standard home, and almost all of the waste – 95 per cent – generated throughout the build has been recycled.
Brett Jorgensen, DHA’s general manager, property provisioning group, says the project is a pioneer in Australian sustainable design.
“It’s an example of how sustainable development can be achieved in the future,” Jorgensen says. “The finished product demonstrates energy efficiency, water efficiency, uses low carbon or sustainable materials and drastically reduced construction waste.”
And what does all of this mean for residents like Sarah Jackson and Glenn Salmon? DHA says the benefits of a build like The Prince’s Terraces include a healthy lifestyle fostered by natural light and ventilation, good acoustics and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials; lower utility bills and greater thermal comfort; and compact living with little compromise on lifestyle or comfort.
The benefits extend beyond the residents, too, according to the DHA. Using local materials means local job creation and less emissions created by transporting goods, while incorporating certified materials advances the market for sustainable products.
DHA’s chairman, Sandy Macdonald, says The Prince’s Terraces proves it’s possible for small, residential projects to make a large impact in the housing industry moving towards more sustainable practices.
“All three organisations involved in this project – DHA, Prince’s Trust Australia and Renewal SA – hope to share our findings and experience with local industry and, by doing so, help others make more sustainable choices.”