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Burwood Brickworks Aims to be the World’s Most Sustainable Retail Centre

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In late January, the first sod was turned on the residential component of a Melbourne development, ie a soon-to-be world leader in sustainability. Burwood Brickworks is an integrated community comprising mixed housing, open space and parklands, and, most notably, a shopping centre. With the usage of the Living Building Challenge as its framework, it is set to become the world’s most sustainable development of this type. 

Frasers Property Australia will build the development, including the shopping centre which will come complete with a 2000sqm working urban community farm on the roof. The farm will supply the restaurant, and the centre will mulch excess organic material for compost, implement ‘closed loop’ water reduction management. It will also limit food and waste transportation to lessen the ecological footprint.

The ambitious project is anticipated to create 2,945 jobs during its construction phase. 

Burwood Brickworks is a $520 million mixed-use development. The forecast on-completion development value of the shopping centre is approximately $115 million. The ambitious project is anticipated to create 2,945 jobs during its construction phase with 718 ongoing jobs on completion of the shopping centre.

Frasers Property Australia specialises in designing and delivering mixed-use communities that integrate residential, retail, commercial, leisure and community spaces, as well as parks and open areas. Scheduled for completion in 2019 and only 15km from Melbourne’s CBD, the developer hopes the 20ha Brickworks development will become “the new heart and soul of Burwood and will bring the community together.”

Far from being a marketing gimmick, the team at Frasers Property have already engaged eco-warrior Joost Bakker to design the bold urban farm concept and ensure its viability. Joost has been quoted in the past saying he wants to prove that a building can nourish the people who live in it, and “not only provide shelter and energy.”

Jobsite spoke with Peri Macdonald, Executive General Manager – Retail, Frasers Property Australia, about the Brickworks development and concentrate especially on the sustainability elements of the retail centre.

“Burwood Brickworks is now a certified 6 Star (World leadership) Green Star Communities project." 

“Burwood Brickworks is now a certified 6 Star (World leadership) Green Star Communities project. To achieve this rating, Burwood Brickworks has demonstrated excellence across all five assessment categories. These range from specific ESD initiatives on the residential built form, through to corporate responsibility initiatives,” explains Peri.

He continues: “The Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Communities rating assesses the planning, design and construction of large-scale development projects at a precinct, neighbourhood and community scale. It provides a rigorous and holistic rating across five impact categories, including Governance, Liveability, Economic Prosperity, Environment and Innovation. The rating tool recognises and rewards projects for addressing both process and outcome focused initiatives.” 

Burwood Brickworks shopping centre will be contributing to the Green Star Communities rating by:

  • Reducing potable water consumption through efficiency measures, rainwater capture and reuse technologies.  

  • Reducing energy demand through passive measures for efficiency and onsite renewable generation. 

  • Providing walkable access to amenity for the community.

  • Increasing local employment and economic activity. 

  • Reducing the urban heat island effect.

The residential development will include solar PV on every townhouse as well as solar panel array on each apartment building to service common areas. Each townhouse will achieve a 7-star NatHERS rating, which is above the national standard. Half the homes will also comply with the silver level of the Livable Housing Australia Design Guidelines. 

What is more, an integrated series of cycle connections and pedestrian prioritisation is designed to encourage healthy lifestyles among residents.

The retail centre, however, seems to be the jewel in the crown with much attention being garnered on the sustainability elements and the urban rooftop farm. There will be with an additional 3,000sqm of urban agriculture spread across the shopping centre site.

“The urban farm will be opened up to the whole community. While the food and beverage tenants can source fresh produce from the garden,” says Peri.n“ Brickworks residents will be able tot access it and so will other local groups, such as schools and sporting clubs, who will  also have a chance to share in the community asset. The urban farm has the potential to serve an important educational function at the local level, so we will definitely look at inviting local students along to learn about its operation.”

Just some of the sustainability initiatives being undertaken in the world-class shopping centre in the centre include: 

  • Net positive energy: the intention is to generate more power than is consumed. 105 per cent of the energy required in the building will be met with a mixture of on-site rooftop solar PV and off-site renewable energy.

  • Basement and solar invertor design to cater for future provision of battery storage.

  • Building fabric initiatives designed to reduce demand such as insulation and double-glazing, with a centralised air-conditioning system servicing all tenants that will re-purpose waste heat, resulting in the most efficient operating costs.

  • A water system that will capture, treat and re-use rain and wastewater.

  • Net positive waste including strict waste protocols in place for materials used in construction and tenancy fit-outs, as well as ongoing occupation.

  • Use of sustainable materials including FSC timber, with a focus on removing ‘Red List’ materials in the building.

  • An abundance of greenery, natural daylight and fresh air throughout the centre.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Frasers Property, with no precedent for the local council to refer to resulting in delayed approval times. “The approval for the development plan has taken longer than anticipated,” Peri says. 

“This is due to a number of factors, not least the need to integrate a broad range of services and housing choices for future residents, including retail, open spaces, apartments, land lots, townhouses and aged care, on what is a complex infill site. Additionally, there is no precedent for the sustainable innovations we are proposing for the shopping centre. We want to commence on site as soon as we can so we’ll continue to work with Council.”

There is no precedent for the sustainable innovations we are proposing for the shopping centre. 

Despite council delays, there’s been interest from many retailers once the shopping centre opens, says Peri: “An agreement has been reached with Woolworths and Dan Murphys to anchor Burwood Brickworks shopping centre. A cinema, dining precinct, and medical centre are also proposed as part of the tenant mix, along with the urban farm operator for which Expressions of Interest are currently being sought.

“The tenant mix will align with our retail niche to create shopping centres that integrate shopping, entertainment, and community spaces to create memorable experiences,” he says.

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