Each year outstanding contributors to the NSW strata sector are recognised at the SCA (NSW) Strata Community Awards across several award categories. One of the award categories recognises a strata scheme that is working to reduce their impact on the environment. The winner of the 2018 Strata Community Environmental & Engagement award went to strata scheme ‘Generation W’, which was once a commercial store house that has been retrofitted and now embraces the principles of re-use, sustainability and community.
Generation W is located in Woolloomooloo and consists of 35 units with three residential floors and 140 square metres of roof space.
The active strata committee rallies the owners as it pursues innovative solutions aimed at the efficient and responsible use of resources including energy, waste and food. To achieve this the owners corporation initiated a sustainability plan and has acted enthusiastically on the recommendations.
Activities undertaken to increase energy efficiency include an upgrade to the common hot water system for the apartments to a heat pump system. Solar thermal hot water solutions were also investigated.
For this property heat pump technology demonstrated the greatest savings potential. The central location of the existing water boilers in the basement car park was ideally suited to a heat pump implementation and advantage was taken of existing piping infrastructure. The existing location of the boilers was sound proof and well ventilated for efficient operation. Heat pump technology is often overlooked, so this project serves as a useful demonstration for other strata schemes.
The strata committee also followed through with an LED lighting upgrade in common areas including basement carpark, fire escapes, stairwells, corridors, and external lights. Dimmable enlighten Chamaeleon lights were used where appropriate to maximize the savings impact.
Solar PV, smart meters and batteries have also been investigated with various solutions explored. The current Solar PV proposal involves development of unused roof space for 12kW of Solar PV panels while allowing for a proposed communal BBQ in another area of the roof.
In addition to energy efficiency, water and renewable energy projects, the strata committee has also established an extensive community vegetable and herb garden. This includes implementation of a new food waste composting system and a worm farm.
The main ground floor common area now hosts a thriving open air communal garden which is used for growing food including: strawberries, paw paw, olives, asparagus, lemons, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, limes, kaffir limes, passionfruit, beetroot, eggplant, pumpkin, tomatoes, rocket and chillies. The herb garden includes parsley, thyme, oregano, sage, chives, basil, rosemary and bay leaves.
The use of the common area for a vegetable and herb garden has been a tremendous boost to community engagement and services as a food source, waste recycling as well as learning and social outlet. This has broken down barriers and raised enthusiasm in the discussion of other projects including energy efficiency, water, waste, transport, and renewable energy projects. Strata committee meetings are enlivened by discussion around these various projects and are now better informed about the attitudes and feelings of owners and residents in the community.
With all these projects the strata committee has been able to overcome barriers and holds regular committee meetings, documents progress, engages professionals, and distributes findings to the community via email. The strata committee has found that because of the sense of community that has evolved residents make the extra effort to read reports and findings and be involved in both informal and formal discussions.
The strata scheme has also committed to obtain a NABERS for Apartment Buildings rating to formally show other strata schemes what is possible and how to achieve sustainability goals.
If you believe your scheme has that special something why not consider entering the 2019 Awards. Details on how to enter will be on the SCA (NSW) website https://nsw.strata.community/ soon.