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Sustainability, imagine that

Dr Airdre Grant at Classic Wallabies versus Barbarians in Lismore.
Dr Airdre Grant at Classic Wallabies versus Barbarians in Lismore. Sophie Moeller

AS I have said before, there's nothing like a trip to the city to freshen up my outlook on life. This trip found me in a state of wonder at my friend's apartment. As she showed me round I became deeply impressed. The apartment block is called Nightingale in The Commons and is the brainchild of Breathe architect Jeremy McLeod.

The building is built and designed to level of sustainability that is remarkable. It has roof gardens with vegetables and herbs, with sections for each apartment dweller to manage, solar panels, rainwater tanks.

The gardens had broad beans, potatoes, herbs and much more in the way of other edible greens. There are bee hives. Pets are welcome, children play in the garden. It is built from recycled materials and aims to be 100% fossil-fuel free. The small amount of energy they buy comes from sustainable energy providers. Instead of parking for cars below, there is a bike garage, the only parking is for the share car. It is next the train line so public transport is easy, has a shared laundry with six or seven machines, a share clothesline under shelter on the roof on the share garden, sitting, barbecue area. Under the building in the refuse area is where 24 rubbish bins have been reduced to four (for the intractable rubbish) and supported by six recycling bins and a row of worm farms. If you sell your apartment you can only mark it up 10%. This is about community before profit.

There's so much more to know about this community minded, not for profit social enterprise. Look it up and see the sustainability goals and the numerous awards it has won. The apartment itself is modern and stylish. I became envious instantly and coveted my friend's life, her city views, her sustainable lifestyle. She participates in activities such as greening the train line and working in the small patch of empty land next the building where there are compost bins and curious art installations.

Each time I go to the city (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne) I am astonished at how many apartments are being built. Thousands of them springing up and all being fitted out with dishwashers, dryers, air conditioners, that need water and generate tonnes of waste. It is beyond my capacity understand how a city can accommodate the energy demands and the huge volume of garbage.

Imagine if developers thought deeply about community and sustainability as core concepts right at the beginning of a project. Imagine if our government had these as abiding principles in and their decisions, instead of the goal of endless and unsustainable 'growth'.

Just imagine that!


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