Geothermal cooling, cycle paths and jobs: what does it take to get six green stars?

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Geothermal cooling, cycle paths and jobs: what does it take to get six green stars?
An artist’s rendition of Alkimos in Western Australia, a six-star Green Star community / © Alkimos

Creating a sustainable community is about more than solar energy and recycled water, says the Green Building Council

With murder rates double, and robbery rates three times, the state average, the Sydney suburb of Blacktown is not an obvious choice as a world leader of sustainable living.

But, in 2016, a new master-planned estate in the suburb became the first residential community in New South Wales to be awarded a top, six-star Green Star community rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Not only that, Fairwater, developed by Frasers Property, is the largest geothermal community in the southern hemisphere. Houses are cooled or heated by a refrigerant that pumps air underground then back to the surface, using less power than air-conditioning or heating and saving residents of a three-bedroom house $500 to $600 a year.

“There’s this avenue of mature trees with this massive lake and lovely terrace houses – yoga by the lake, cycling paths, all these people walking,” says the GBCA chief executive, Romilly Madew. “If I said ‘Blacktown’ that’s not the image that would have come to your mind. It’s all about healthy and active living.”

Green-star buildings produce, on average, 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 51% less potable water and 66% less electricity than average buildings in Australia, according to GBCA’s 2013 report The Value of the Green Star. […]