Loop - a Rock Development Group Project
Rock Development Group's project 'loop' is aiming to become one of Australia's first 6 Star Green Star communities.
loop is a redevelopment project built upon a 40,000 square metre site with the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets at its heart. It will be a mixed use development with more than 300 apartments, more than 3,700m2 of retail space and 8,500m2 of office space, with an overarching vision to enhance the site through active sustainable design and a coordinated and effective delivering of services.
"We aim to make sustainable living part of the everyday life of Australians and leave the land in a better state than we inherited it," says Rock Development Group Director, Maria Efkarpidis.
The project - which has been called loop because it represents the interconnected and never-ending relationship between humanity and the earth - will feature a variety of initiatives that will generate energy and conserve resources; these have been designed with the help of Northrop Sustainability. Power will be generated by a large-scale grid of connected photovoltaics on all available roof spaces, and by a series of roof-mounted wind turbines. Geothermal heat pumps will also be installed to allow a highly efficient HVAC plant to be operated at the site.
On the other side of the equation, energy demand will be minimised through a combination of good design and sustainable technology. Mixed-mode buildings will be constructed which combine natural ventilation with mechanical air conditioning. This will reduce heating and cooling demands, while also limiting new material use by incorporating reused materials.
There is a key advantage that sustainable community projects offer when compared with single building projects - their efficiencies of scale. loop will capitalise on this by introducing a precinct-wide energy management system to minimise and manage energy demand across the entire project. Water use can also be managed more effectively on a large scale, with loop providing integrated rainwater and wastewater reuse systems to collect and supply recycled water to all areas of the site.
In the words of Maria Efkarpidis: "We want to build a green precinct. We want the whole precinct to power itself and we want to get rid of all the waste."
Educating the community
While sustainable building attributes lay the ground work for a sustainable community, the project team recognises that education is also required to maximise the environmental outcomes of the project. To this end, sustainability education elements are to be incorporated into many of loop's facilities. One example of this will be the onsite commercial composting system, which will be used to educate users about reducing waste as well as producing high quality gardening soil for the residents who live at loop. Providing rich education opportunities will both reward residents and help the precinct achieve other long-term sustainability goals such as zero waste practices.
The precinct will also provide a number of other sustainability services for tenants, such as plug-in points for electric vehicles, electric car pooling and direct public transport connections. These features will make it easier for people who live and work at loop to lead a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce the community's carbon footprint.
Rock Development Group believes that "sustainable living is a far richer concept than just being green. It encompasses all elements of our lives to ensure we live responsibly."
In this respect, loop aims to enhance the lives of residents by promoting healthier lifestyles and encouraging interaction with other residents. This will be achieved by providing social and active spaces such as barbecue areas, community vegetable gardens, roof gardens, and hosting healthy-eating campaigns in partnership with the Canberra TransACT Capitals women's basketball team. Shared laundries will also be installed, delivering dematerialisation benefits and encouraging greater social involvement in the community.
Why Green Star Communities?
Achieving a 6 Star Green Star Communities rating for loop is important for Rock Development Group, not only because the company is the principal sponsor of the Green Star Communities rating tool, but because such a rating reflects Rock's status as a thought leader and pioneer in the development of sustainable communities.
Maria Efkarpidis says: "Buildings which minimise energy and other operating costs make a huge difference to the long-term financial wellbeing of the people who live and work in them. Perhaps more importantly, if we want to leave a better world to our children, our buildings and our communities need to be more sustainable."
It is hoped that, through pioneering the concept of sustainable communities, loop will set the standard for future sustainable projects.
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