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Forza Capital’s eco and inclusive socially sustainable Richmond apartments

For Forza Capital director Adam Murchie, the sustainability focus of the near-complete $85 million Supply Co apartment complex in Richmond is not just about “enviro stuff”. The new residential development also hits the high notes on social sustainability – far exceeding standard inclusivity requirements for disabled occupants.

Mr Murchie believes the new residential development is “among the first” to take this ultra-inclusive approach to apartment block design. As a result, seven apartments have already been sold to disabled occupants and their carers.

The Melbourne-based property fund manager plans to adopt this inclusive design ethos in future projects where possible.

The new 130-apartment development is also home to a six-storey artwork by local street artist, Baby Guerilla. The decision to include the artwork, titled “Mother Earth, was through “no obligation or need other than we weren’t comfortable leaving a six-storey high wall blank,” Mr Murchie said.

A second artwork, a bronze sculpture by Corey Thomas, inspired by the nearby Yarra River, is included in the residents’ common area as part of a water feature.

The original heritage facade of the industrial precinct has also been retained.

Designed by Peddle Thorp Architects, the development has “ticked most of the boxes that you can” on environmental sustainability.

This includes a 6 star NatHERS building thermal rating, high efficiency LED lighting throughout, rainwater harvesting for toilets and gardens, and an embedded energy network with rights assigned to the body corporate.

“While Forza Capital was offered a fee for the embedded network installation, we felt it more appropriate to have any value returned to the owners,” Mr Murchie said.

“As such, the body corporate owns the embedded network rights and therefore earns a return from its own services.”

The building is terraced to provide generous private open spaces and “green areas” for landscaping. This design choice also minimises the overshadowing of neighbouring properties.

Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be significantly less than an equivalent conventional development – the new Richmond apartments are expected to produce 4740 kilograms of carbon dioxide per dwelling, whereas a conventional development would expect to produce emissions of 7959 kilograms of carbon dioxide per dwelling.

The development is also expected to consume 40 per cent less energy than a conventional comparable development, and achieve a 32 per cent reduction in potable water usage (compared to a 25 per cent reduction required by council).

Other sustainability features include:

  • solar boosted hot water system, which will reduce hot water energy consumption by 17 per cent
  • all shower heads, toilets and taps will have a 3 to 4 star rating
  • secure parking for 50 bicycles
  • movable screens and enhanced ventilation in most apartments

forza capital David St Richmond

Sustainability still failing to resonate with home buyers

Mr Murchie said both social and environmental sustainability are in the “MO” (modus operandi) for the Melbourne-based property fund manager.

Both Mr Murchie and co-director Ashley Wain were members of the steering committee of the Building Better Buildings research project, which highlighted a positive link between the sustainability rating of commercial office assets and their financial performance.

However, he said home buyers in Australia are yet to embrace the advantages of sustainable buildings.

“People just bring it down to price,” Mr Murchie said.

“We do it because it makes sense. We don’t do it for marketing and sales… in fact, it can perversely go against you.”

He said that although sustainable residential buildings now make commercial sense, there is a ”massive disconnect” in buyer understanding around environmental credentials.

For example, Mr Murchie said most buyers don’t understand how embedded networks work or realise the potential savings.

“People don’t look at body corporate [costs]. They usually find out after the purchase.”

Other major sustainability-related projects for the company include large-scale solar initiatives in both Queensland and Victoria.

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