Five stars for the City’s apartment sustainability plan

Five stars for the City’s apartment sustainability plan

The City of Sydney has received strong community support for the residential apartments sustainability plan which outlines ways to reduce the environmental impact of apartment living.

Community feedback showed strong support for higher energy efficiency targets and better compliance for the existing Building Sustainability Index, known as BASIX.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said it was important to ensure residential buildings are designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste and water use, and that owners are aware of their apartments’ green credentials.

“Over 70 per cent of the City’s residents live in apartments and this is estimated to increase to 80 per cent by 2030. That’s 270,000 people living in apartments in the inner Sydney area,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The number of apartments is increasing, but the minimum sustainability targets for new apartment buildings, are much lower than for new houses.

“Retrofitting buildings can be costly, so it’s better to include higher sustainability standards at the design stage. Prospective buyers of new apartments could be shown a BASIX ratings certificate, so they can be aware of how well the building performs environmentally.

“We’ve already seen how buildings with better sustainability standards can reduce bills for owners and tenants in the long run, and this is a major selling point for new apartments.”

The residential apartments sustainability plan used data from the City’s Smart Green Apartments program – a three-year sustainability trial that took place in 30 buildings across the city from 2011–13.

An independent evaluation of 21 of those buildings last year found environmental retrofit projects helped result in an annual reduction of more than 3,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per building, with savings of up to $90,000 per building each year.

The City has allocated $400,000 to develop a High Rise Leaders Retrofit Program to make existing apartment buildings more sustainable.

The United States-based Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance has also given the City a $60,000 grant to help increase the number of high-rise residential buildings that create their own energy from solar and other sustainable sources.

The City will advocate for residential apartment buildings to be included in State and Federal government subsidy schemes.

The community supported the High Rise Leaders Retrofit Program as a useful way to:

  • Tackle some of the financial barriers to retrofitting buildings;
  • Prove the business case for owners to retrofit;
  • Develop benchmark sustainability data for apartments; and
  • Identify service providers for an expert panel.

“The community wants higher environmental standards in new apartment buildings and has asked us to encourage developers to increase their sustainability goals by offering incentives for water-saving devices, solar photovoltaic panels and bicycle parking in new buildings,” the Lord Mayor said.

“As we’ve seen in the commercial property sector, buildings with improved green standards are more attractive to new owners and residents who demand reduced operating costs and better environmental performance.”

International studies also demonstrate that more sustainable buildings attract higher rent, sales prices and occupancy rates.

There were 188,000 people (73 per cent of the population) living in apartments in the City of Sydney area in 2013, which were responsible for:

  • 39 per cent of water use;
  • 11 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • 14 per cent of waste generation. 

To view the City’s Residential Apartments Sustainability Plan, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/239988/150803_EC_ITEM08_ATTACHMENTB.PDF 

For media inquiries, Claire Thompson on 0408 414 376 or cthompson1@cityofsydney.nsw gov.au 

For Lord Mayor interviews, Paul Mackay on 0432 182 647 or pmackay@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au