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Belconnen: Home of the first six-star Green Star suburb in the ACT

By Ben Faulks

The Green Building Council of Australia has just announced the ACT's very first six-star Green Star suburb, and it's right here in Belconnen. The new suburb is called Ginnenderry – previously known as west Belconnen – and it has just seen its first steps taken towards the construction of this environmentally focused community.

Ginnenderry is the result of a joint project between the Land Development Agency (LDA) and Riverview Developments, and LDA CEO David Dawes has been quick to point out that the suburb's six-star rating achievement is one just just a handful in the country.

What does it mean for a suburb to receive six stars?

The Green Star program is Australia's national system for evaluating everything from fitouts, to buildings, to entire communities. It considers the design, construction and operation of a project, and aims to create healthy, economical, environmentally friendly spaces for Australians to live.

Our built environment generates 40 per cent of waste and uses as much as a third of our water supplies.

According to the group, our built environment generates 40 per cent of waste and uses as much as a third of our water supplies. On top of that, it's the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Communities are rated on five factors for a green-star rating; liveability, economic prosperity, environment, innovation, and governance. For a suburb to achieve six stars, it has to shine throughout all areas.

It's apt then, that the name Ginninderry comes from the Aboriginal word for 'sparkling'.

The suburb will use a network of wetlands, basins and bioretention swales to catch, clean and use water, so as not to impact on the existing nearby waterways of Ginninderra Creek and the Murrumbidgee River. The community is also designed to encourage people to get out of their cars and either walk or cycle throughout a network of pathways.

Additionally, solar panels are to be mandated for every home, and all new residents will be given advice on efficient use of power to make the most of them.

Romilly Madew, Green Building Council of Australia CEO, explained what the development's rating means for the ACT and those who will get to live within it.

"This rating highlights that the know-how, technology and collaborative thinking is found right here in the ACT – and Ginninderry is certainly a world-class example of why sustainable thinking can deliver more for people, the community and the environment. The project team's achievement is truly outstanding, especially when we consider the project stretches across four suburbs and two states," she said.

Altogether, Ginninderry is set to consist of up to 11,500 homes and accommodate roughly 30,000 people within the next 40 years. Roughly 6,500 of those homes will be within the ACT's border, and the first land sales release is planned for the beginning of 2017.

The importance of green living

Regardless of your current home address, green living is an achievable and admirable goal for any Australian household.

Make a start by calculating your carbon footprint with an online carbon calculator to determine where most of your output comes from. From there, you should be able to quickly consider ways to cut it down. Australian Government website Your Home states that as much as 40 per cent of your energy use comes from heating and cooling – can you reduce this spend by installing double-glazed windows? Such home improvements won't just cut your footprint and your power bill, but it can also increase the value of your home for future buyers.

You can also make small changes such as replaces appliances with energy-efficient versions, switching off items that remain on 'stand-by' mode, growing your own herbs or vegetables, or getting to work by cycling, taking public transport or ride sharing as often as possible.

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