Frasers Property Australia’s Fairwater community in Sydney’s west has delivered another sustainability first, achieving a 6 Star Green Star – Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) to position it as one of the country’s most progressive environmentally friendly developments.

The achievement means Fairwater is the first project in New South Wales to be awarded a 6 Star Green Star – Communities rating – the highest possible recognition. Only a handful of projects have received this rating nationally.

From its conception, Fairwater has been synonymous with sustainability. The community’s green credentials encompass everything from geothermal heating and cooling, to a strong materials and waste recycling focus and thoughtfully designed open spaces that promote healthy, active lifestyles.

A carefully conceived community development program and local infrastructure improvements were also integral to the 6 Star achievement, particularly given Fairwater’s proximity to employment, services and public transport.
Fairwater’s sustainability success required a Green Star commitment from the outset, explains Paolo Bevilacqua, General Manager – Sustainability, Frasers Property Australia.

“It’s critical to map out the sustainability initiatives at the beginning of the masterplanning process and an unwavering environmental focus must underpin the whole design and delivery phase,” Mr Bevilacqua says.

“The environmental outcomes we’ve achieved at Fairwater reflect the broader sustainability mantra across our entire operation and the Green Star principles provide a very useful guide.

“It is important for us to be able to benchmark the performance of our properties and developments to continually drive improved performance and better future outcomes. Green Star enables us to benchmark our industrial and office properties, as well as our residential developments and communities,” Mr Bevilacqua says.

For the past two years Frasers Property has led the industry in terms of the number of Green Star projects certified and registered. Additionally, the company recently became the first to make a commitment to achieving minimum 5 Star Green Star ratings for all new office, industrial and retail developments.

“After achieving more Green Star ratings for buildings than any other organisation in 2015, and certifying more than one million square metres of Green Star space, Frasers Property has now achieved the first ‘world leadership’ rating for a sustainable community in NSW. We applaud the team at Frasers Property for continuing to raise the bar,” says the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew.

In the residential space, Frasers Property is a sponsor of the Green Star – Communities tool and has taken an active role in the pilot program.

“Fairwater was an obvious candidate for the pilot program and Green Star certification, and to achieve the highest possible rating is a testament to the design and construction teams,” says Ray Baksmati, Development Director, Frasers Property Australia.

“By committing the necessary resources upfront and ensuring all stakeholders were on the same page, we were able to align Green Star principles with our everyday processes to deliver a modern green community that appeals to contemporary lifestyles,” he says.

Frasers Property’s recycling focus at Fairwater ensured more than 90% of all waste from construction was recycled. Excess topsoil was improved for re-use offsite, while materials used were produced through environmentally responsible processes and the design consideration focused on waste minimisation.

Other environmental initiatives at Fairwater include a riparian regeneration program that converted an old concrete lined drainage channel into a natural riparian creek line, a grey water system for use in toilets, laundry and irrigation, as well as a low solar reflectivity roof colour scheme on homes.

Of course, the geothermal heating and cooling technology is a key point of difference at Fairwater. It’s the largest geothermal community in the southern hemisphere and the technology will be accessible to every one of the approximately 800 homes on site.

The geothermal technology was a key attraction of Fairwater for resident Lukas Szymanek, not only for the environmental benefits but also because of the lower energy bills.

“The system is well hidden and barely noticeable, but makes a huge difference to the environment, our energy costs as well as our comfort,” says Lukas.

An environmental first for new communities in Australia when it was unveiled at Fairwater in 2014, the geothermal technology saves significant energy compared to traditional airconditioning systems, with the potential to save residents on average up to 60% in heating and cooling energy costs compared to a standard air-conditioned home, based on equivalent house size and power usage.

It works by using the earth’s constant temperature to heat and cool underground pipes. A pump circulates refrigerant through an underground transmission loop which is about 80 metres deep. During this journey, the refrigerant assumes the same temperature as the surrounding earth, which is much cooler than the air in summer and much warmer in winter.
When the refrigerant returns to the surface, most of the cooling or heating has already taken place. The desired internal temperature in the home is therefore achieved using significantly less energy than traditional air conditioning.

In this system, the ground loops act as a condenser, removing the need for an external compressor. A heat pump is instead used, which is more efficient, quieter and safer.