The Display Village being built for the new suburb of Whitlam is looking to the future of housing in Canberra with a big focus on both environmental sustainability and accessibility, including ageing in place.
The Suburban Land Agency is developing the latest Molonglo Valley suburb and has partnered with the Housing Industry Association to highlight sustainable building practices with all display homes to be accredited through the HIA’s GreenSmart program.
The village will offer 13 display homes – one less than originally proposed, from eight Canberra builders and demonstration housing showcasing multi-generational living.
It will also be a focal point for the community as the suburb is built, providing a ‘collaboration hub’ including a sales suite, community space, cafe and landscaped outdoor area.
The all-electric dwellings will have a minimum seven star energy rating and include solar panels, battery storage and electric car charging stations, as well as adhering to the silver Livable Housing Australia standards that national building ministers recently agreed to and which the ACT will phase in over the next few years.
The three-dwelling, multi-generational living development will showcase all three of the LHA accessibility standards – silver, gold and platinum – that cater for people with mobility issues who need things such as flat entry points, wider doorways and lower benches and light switches.
The sustainability features are expected to be popular but SLA Executive Director of Built Form and Divestment, Nicholas Holt, said the agency also wanted to show people what ageing in place actually meant and how it would work.
“People when they’re thinking about how they might design a house for ageing in place can come along and look at these dwellings and get ideas,” he said.
The silver level allowed for future-proofing and upgrading down the track while platinum provided for higher needs.
HIA’s ACT/NSW Regional Executive Director Greg Weller said the GreenSmart accredited homes would also provide potential buyers with information about the environmental impact of building them, the reduction and disposal of waste on site and their long-term environmental performance.
Mr Weller said buyers could also trust that these builders were fully trained in all these aspects and understood environmental building.
He said there was growing demand for sustainable homes, particularly in Canberra.
“We’ve got a well educated population and generally ACT has higher than average incomes, and we’ve also got the four seasons that lend itself to thinking about how your home is going to perform long term,” he said.
Mr Weller said people would be able to talk to builders about what goes into a home like this and what all the benefits are.
While it may mean paying more up front for these features, the returns include reduced heating and cooling costs and improved amenity for the family as well “which is difficult to put a price on”.
Builders include ABM Homes, Blackett Homes, Burbank, GJ Gardner Homes, Jada Building Projects, Kolak Living, Mayfair Homes and McDonald Jones Homes.
Mr Holt said the suburb’s design focus was also on the environment, particularly making use of the the Molonglo River Corridor, not just sustainability initiatives that will be required.
He said the hub should be completed by spring or early summer and the homes built before Christmas or early January.
Whitlam will be home to about 2100 dwellings and an estimated 5000 residents. The suburb will include a P-10 school and local centre with planning in place to ensure a network of active travel connections both on road and through green spaces.