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Threat to Perth’s flagship green building  

Concerns over three nine-metre high wind turbines planned for the roof of a new office block may rob Perth’s CBD of its first five-star environmental building.

“I think it needed a bit more consideration,” City of Perth councillor Judy McEvoy said after the council planning committee she chairs last night unanimously rejected the turbines.

“When you put these kinds of things up, on the proviso that acoustic readings will be done afterwards, who’s going to pull them down?”

Developer Stockland wants to install the big red turbines atop the five-storey Durack 2 block it is building at the corner of Terrace Road and Victoria Avenue, overlooking Langley Park.

The turbines, resembling paper clips in design, would be three metres higher than the building’s rooftop plant room.

A council report said they would be intentionally visible from Langley Park “to clearly demonstrate the environmental intent of the development”.

The turbines received 65 objections from neighbours, most of whom lived in the exclusive Altair Apartments next door.

“As far as impact on the residents, it is obviously a visual thing,” chairman of Altair’s council of owners, John Timms, said before last night’s meeting.

Mr Timms also questioned whether the turbines would work as predicted by Stockland.

He said the developer’s modelling was not based on local wind conditions, but on those at Mt Lawley weather station.

“The turbines are definitely a part of the rating,” project sustainability consultant Chris Symonds of Bassett Consulting Engineers said before the meeting.

“Because you’re at the later stages of design, your chances of making changes (if the turbines are rejected) are reduced.”

The committee’s unanimous rejection will now be considered by full council on August 5.

“There’s been a lot of complaints,” Cr McEvoy said.

“We’ve been getting emails from residents on this one for three months now.

“Noise and aesthetics have been the main issues.”

Cr McEvoy said Stockland had initially pushed to have the turbines assessed by her council’s officers only, under delegated authority.

“We thought it was a bigger issue than delegated authority,” she said.

“The concept is good, it’s just a pity it’s around a lot of residences.

“It’s something where we’ll have to look at both sides.”

Mr Symonds said the Turby brand turbines were being applied for now, rather than under the initial planning application in April last year, because they were not available back then.

In any case, the Netherlands-manufactured turbines were a building licence, not a planning, matter he said.

“The building itself has a number of features that will definitely be used as an educational tool for the community and for the architectural and design profession,” Mr Symonds said.

These features included energy efficient windows, external louvers on the western facade, and a state-of-the-art air-conditioning system.

He said that if the turbines were approved, Durack 2 would be the first CBD building to achieve a five-star “as-built” rating under the Green Star rating system.

All other five-star buildings to date have only been assessed before completion, he said. This building would also be assessed after it was finished, to ensure it complied with energy efficiency standards.

“A design rating may be well and good, but unless it is built to that, there’s not much point,” Mr Symonds said.

Despite the sustainability expert’s doubts over whether the rating would be achieved without turbines, Stockland has placed placards outside the rising structure billing it as “Perth’s first 5 star CBD Office Building”.

A Stockland spokeswoman said the company was confident the rating would be achieved, and the signs made no mention of environmental performance.

Chris Thompson

WAtoday

30 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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