Carlton Eco-Neighbourhood Launched
Photo: Jackson Architecture
Article by Kate Archdeacon:
Stage One of the redevelopment of part of the Carlton Housing Estate into the Carlton Eco-Neighbourhood was officially launched last Friday. The result of collaboration between residents, local action groups, architects, developers, the City of Melbourne, the Department of Human Services and Environment Victoria, the buildings incorporate environmentally efficient design. Natural lighting and ventilation, solar access and solar hot water, as well as water-saving systems that recycle water and capture rainwater all combine to reduce the carbon footprint of residents.
A potential demonstration project for many of the Eco-City principles mentioned by Cr Cathy Oke at the launch, the Eco-Neighbourhood is seen as an opportunity to combine technology with community-building to get to grips with a real-world test case for sustainable living in a Melbourne neighbourhood. The 174 apartments are a combination of public and private housing, and Environment Victoria is recruiting residents to train as Eco Champions, spreading information and practical examples of sustainable behaviour in a variety of languages and cultures. Charlie Davie from Environment Victoria explained that in the average Victorian household, the biggest energy uses tend to be heating, cooling and hotwater, but the careful design of these apartments means that the true gains in efficiency will be in the way residents choose and use their appliances. Eco Champions will be given test packs including Future Switches and microfibre cleaning cloths to try out for themselves as part of the training.
Residents have only started moving into the apartments in the last two months, so the community side of the project is still in early stages. It will be fascinating to see how the Eco Champion program progresses over time, since it’s clear that building design is only part of the equation for reducing occupants’ carbon footprints. The complex issues of choice, habit and long-term commitment to behaviour change are the reality that decides whether projects like these become reference points in the shift towards sustainable living that is so urgent.