Building the future of Australia – sustainable homes and carbon neutral living
17 August 2016
Lochiel Park in South Australia, is arguably Australia’s most environmentally sustainable residential estate. Established to create the nation’s model green village, Lochiel Park showcases environmentally sustainable technologies and practices. Since the estate’s inception, the University of South Australia has collaborated with the State Government’s land development agency Renewal SA, the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, CSIRO and, most importantly, the residents of Lochiel Park. This collaboration has created a national ‘living laboratory’ as the collaborators have shaped environmental targets, monitored performance and undertaken an extensive research program. This living laboratory located in suburban Adelaide, has helped create a detailed understanding of low carbon homes and their impact, informing sustainable housing decisions throughout the world.
Originally proposed as a demonstration project, in less than a decade Lochiel Park has become an award winning green village with a community of more than 150 residents across 15 hectares. All homes within Lochiel Park are serviced by solar photovoltaic cells, recycled water and gas-boosted solar hot water systems and achieve a minimum 7.5 star thermal performance. The development includes a 10 hectare forest of plantings to create a biodiversity corridor to offset the remaining carbon footprint. Other green and efficiency initiatives include street lighting provided by solar energy, water sensitive urban design such as wetlands, clean stormwater collection and bio-filtration pits incorporated into the road infrastructure.
UniSA’s efforts at Lochiel Park are led by Professor Wasim Saman, Professor of Sustainable Energy Engineering at the School of Engineering, whose career has focussed on sustainable energy education and industry targeted research for over 30 years. Professor Saman has published over 200 technical articles and leads an internationally recognised research group working in sustainable energy which comprises 28 staff and research students. He is Research Leader in the CRC for Low Carbon Living and Node Co-Leader in the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative.
Community engagement has been key to Lochiel Park’s success. Residents have embraced the research and directly participated to understand the factors that facilitate and inhibit environmentally friendly behaviour. This includes an investigation of how factors such as working and travel patterns; household configuration; stage of life; domestic division of labour and community engagement, shape the way that households interact with the technology being trialled.
The University has used the initiative as the focus for many PhD students, providing focus and inspiration for their research projects, giving them access to a unique learning experience and exposing them to real life applications of their work through Lochiel Park.
Lochiel Park as a residential area is now complete and Professor Saman and his colleagues remain engaged with the residents, who contribute to ongoing research projects including analysis and performance monitoring. The development’s energy and water use performance will be monitored until 2018, in keeping with the original vision of creating a showcase for best practice sustainable technologies. This ground-breaking and truly unique initiative will provide Australia with invaluable knowledge on how to build future homes to offset and reduce our carbon footprint.