Mirvac set to build net zero energy Melbourne community with ARENA backing

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced that it is set to fund Mirvac to the tune of $784,000 to enable the property developer to trial its master-planned ‘net zero energy’ housing estate in the Melbourne suburb of Altona North.

The estate, a master-planned community called “The Fabric”, is an attempt by Mirvac to prove that net zero energy homes can be built at scale for homeowners to enjoy reduced energy bills right from the point of purchase.

“The Fabric” will consist of two, three and four bedroom townhouses with mid-rise apartments in the estate’s future as well. The first phase of construction will see 49 new townhouses built, the first demonstration of Mirvac’s ability to scale net zero energy houses.

With the aid of ARENA’s funding, each townhouse in the Mirvac project will have a minimum rooftop solar array of between 3.8-5 kW, 10 kWh battery storage and real-time smart home energy monitoring.

On top of this, the townhouses will also feature demand response capabilities and the potential for EV connectivity in the garage. The demand response capability ensures that the Fabric is a virtual power plant in waiting, waiting only for homebuyers.

Of course, this is not Mirvac’s first move into this sphere. The property developer is already working with Allume Energy nationally, using Allume’s Solshare technology to meter rooftop solar among multiple building tenants.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project will demonstrate the benefits of incorporating consumer energy technologies and energy efficiency into new homes.

“By incorporating energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart heating and cooling when designing and building new homes,” said Miller, “Mirvac’s trial will hopefully encourage a step change in the housing industry. Through this project, Mirvac will be able to offer home buyers features that will help reduce energy use, energy bills and emissions from the beginning.”

The “Fabric” project’s aim of demonstrating net zero energy homes at scale is in not just a trial of the concept itself, but a trial as to how Mirvac can accelerate the concept throughout the entirety of its extensive portfolio – effectively changing the fabric of the portfolio itself.

Of course, a substantial change in a portfolio the size of Mirvac’s is bound to have resounding impacts throughout the housing industry. It is ARENA’s hope that the Altona North trial site will help to develop the pincer-style pressure on the housing industry that is required to create change. This is to say, pressure from the side of the property developer demonstrating net zero energy homes’ ability to scale, and at the same time, pressure on potential homebuyers when they see the benefits of such homes in living practice.

“Net zero homes at The Fabric will offer both environmental and economic benefits,” said Mirvac’s Victorian General Manger of Residential Elysa Anderson, “lower energy consumption enables families to spend less money on their utility bills; it’s also the most responsible and sustainable choice for future generations.”

Construction on The Fabric is expected to begin in late 2020.