Today Tonight on world first solar sharing trial in Freo

This Today Tonight episode is a good summary of the world first solar sharing trial happening right here in Freo …

Also, here is the Ministerial Announcement on this imprtant project:


Are trackless trams the future transport solution for Fremantle?

Recently City of Fremantle staff, Councillors, and representative from the State Government met with a Chinese delegation who are building a new generation of trackless trams or ART

There has long been a debate between the merits of trams/light rail (LRT) vs rapid bus (BRT).

Personally I have always been a strong LRT advocate as global evidence is that it has led to higher ridership and encouraged better land uses and urban development along the transit routes.

But this emerging trackless trams/ART technology has the potential to offer the best of both worlds.

Prof Peter Newman has articulated this well in his article in The Conversation that came out this week:

While there is some way to go in being confident that trackless trams/ART can offer all the benefits of LRT, it is a technology that may create the breakthrough that is needed in providing a proper second tier, fixed route public transport service.

A route where this technology may be a good fit is along South Street – linking Fremantle with Murdoch University and Hospital. This would enable major trackless trams stops at Kardinya, Samson, Hilton and Heart of Beaconsfield.

At around 10% of the cost of LRT, it may be a project where we can get State Government support for funding in a way that was looking challenging with LRT.

As the Fremantle Council has advocated for many years as part of Freo2029, better transport links to the south and east of Fremantle are essential to our future. Frankly, rapid bus transit was never going to cut it if we wanted a substantial increase in patronage and quality urban development along these routes.

LRT was definitely the best option but maybe, just maybe, there is a new, cheaper option that can be realized a whole lot quicker.


Solar Farm business plan approved

The proposed solar farm on the former South Fremantle landfill site has overcome another hurdle, with Fremantle Council approving the business plan for the project.

To facilitate the project the City of Fremantle plans to lease the land at the site to Australian renewable energy company Epuron.

The Local Government Act requires councils to prepare and advertise a business plan whenever they undertake a commercial enterprise like a major land transaction.

The proposed lease outlined in the business plan includes a 25 year term at $1 per year, with the option to extend for a further 15 years.

It also provides for rent reviews every three years to allow the City to increase the rent if the solar farm starts to make a commercial return.

While the approval of the business plan brings the City a step closer to achieving its preference for locally-sourced green power, the lease with Epuron will not be executed until all of the environmental approvals for the project are achieved.

The site currently generates no income for the City, and the environmental constraints mean any permanent development is not feasible for many years. Leasing the land at a peppercorn rate will allow the land to have some use, with no change to the City’s financial obligations.

The idea of developing a solar farm was endorsed by the council in 2013 on the basis that the solar panel structures could be positioned above the surface of the soil and require little or no excavation or disturbance of what is a contaminated site.

However, the council has been very clear that we will not let this development proceed unless we are satisfied it is safe to do so. The community’s safety is our absolute priority.

The lease states that Epuron will be responsible for fulfilling all the environmental conditions relating to the project, and the lease can’t be signed without the approval of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.”

The solar farm is a key component towards the City achieving its One Planet Strategy target of being powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

It will cover approximately 8 hectares of the 19.4 hectare landfill site on Cockburn Road and produce up to 4.9 megawatts of power.

The City of Fremantle has been investigating land use and management options for the site since 1985.

Following an Expression of Interest process the City signed an exclusive working agreement with Epuron in 2015. Epuron submitted a development application for the project in January this year.

Planning approval for the project was granted by the City in April, but there are a number of conditions that must be satisfied prior to development commencing.

This includes the preparation of a Site Management Plan, which must be reviewed and approved by an independent contaminated sites auditor.

A Little White Gum Valley House Opens for Sustainable House Day

Today we opened up our White Gum Valley House for Sustainable House Day tours. Given they were all booked out I thought it be worth sharing the tour online with this little photo essay. Enjoy.

When I bought my house, a 1950’s fibro house in 2004 I suspect it might have been one of the last houses in White Gum Valley for under $300k  But it was all I could afford but I was very happy to have a home of my own even if all of the backyard was paved over and the inside walls were full of holes and the ceiling were barely holding up.

It was in such poor condition that even the real estate ad said “Only for the Brave”!  While many would have seen it as a ‘knock down job’ I was keen to see how it could be sustainably adapted.

I wanted to retain as much or original fabric from 1950s house as possible. With this reuse in mind, this modest house underwent a rather drawn out retrofit using the solid timber bones of the existing structure to create a much more liveable home.

There are some good reasons for this. For example the energy inherent in the material and construction of a typical older house has been said to contains the energy equivalent to 15,000 litres of petrol which is enough to send a car round the world five times, or half way the distance to the moon!

This approach was also within my budget!

Passive solar principles under pinned the design. Key to this was moving the living areas to the north side of the house and expanding them with a semi-enclosed, passive solar front deck. The north facing deck is designed for maximum northern sun in the winter but providing summer shading. The deck was bigger than originally planned and at 68m2 almost as big as the modest 90m2 house.

We also installed louvers for cross ventilation to make the most of the Fremantle Doctor afternoon sea breeze.

Double glazed windows were installed on East and West side and smart was used E-Glass throughout

We added thermal and acoustic insulation in walls, floors and ceilings

The house performs reasonable well now and doesn’t need air-conditioning most days of the year, ceiling fans inside and out do the trick.

In addition to the passive solar elements, it has 2.2kw of solar PV and evacuated tube solar hot water to keep energy bills low. In fact the house is normally in credit for electricity

The house is also part of the Renew Nexus energy trading project that will enable trading of renewable energy across Fremantle

Materials, where possible, were recycled into the revamped dwelling including:

  • Front paving created from left of wine cellar cores
  • Back paving from original garden retaining walls
  • Deck made from recycled jarrah.
  • Gate posts from recycled timber from the former backyard
  • Side gate doors are recycled from the old toilet and laundry doors to the original house
  • Current bathroom window is formally the old kitchen window that was relocated
  • Outdoor tables are made from the pallets from veranda panelling and deck floorboard offcuts
  • Deck lighting feature is from wood off cuts from building

Finally we wanted more garden including more fruit and vegetables so we pulled up most of the drive way to create more green space.

Our little house is no sustainability masterpiece. It will never be on Grand Designs but through some cost-effective choices aimed at reducing our energy and water use and creating more green space we have created a home that is both more liveable and more sustainable.

Finally a big thanks to Greg and Rachel and everyone who volunteered their time to make Sustainable House Day in Fremantle such a huge success.

Come meet some Sustainable Tradies

Come in with your plans, ideas, projects or problems for an opportunity to ask questions, learn and get in touch with experts who can help you to live more sustainably.


A range of sustainability experts, tradespeople and professional services will be on hand to help you progress your project for example:

– Solar passive design

– Low impact, low toxicity construction

– Learn to reduce your impact in how you live

– Sustainable repairs, restorations & renovations

– Native, eco urban, Mediterranean, vegetable & verge gardens

– Chook pens, compost beds, garden beds & worm farms

– Reticulation, water ponds & grey water systems

– Building from waste with style


Grab a coffee from a nearby cafe and come and chat with our experts in sustainable housing solutions and innovations.

10am – 1pm Saturday, High Street Mall Fremantle

This is a free event Register here to attend

Nightingale Fremantle: Raising the bar of triple-bottom-line housing

There are a lot of impressive sustainable developments in the pipeline in Freo at the moments but one of the most impressive projects is undoubtedly Nightingale Fremantle – another inspirational project that will be on display at the Sustainable House Day Expo from 13 – 16th Sept, and the Sustainability Showoff’s Presentation Friday 14th September at 6pm

Nightingale Housing’s first provision of triple-bottom-line housing in Fremantle takes the idea of sustainable design and community lifestyle to new heights.

In a first for Western Australia, the Fremantle apartments are delivered under the highly successful Nightingale Housing Model, which originated in Melbourne as a way of delivering homes with efficient, deliberative design and remarkable energy efficiency credentials – outcomes that contribute to ongoing health and cost benefits to purchasers.

Fremantle boasts the first Nightingale Building outside Melbourne, and offers buyers a chance to adopt a new way of living, one that is more in tune with the environment and the local community.

Managed by long-time sustainability expert Don Fini of Fini Sustainability and designed by pioneering architecture firm EHDO Architecture, Nightingale Fremantle is not just an investment in bricks and mortar; instead it represents an investment in a future that is focused on environmental responsibility, physical and mental wellbeing and community engagement.

Located in Wood Street, Fremantle, the owners of these new apartments – 15 dwellings ranging in size from one- to three-bedrooms – will enjoy all of the community facilities and smart design features that have made their Melbourne precedents so successful. Homes are allocated through an equitable balloting system, with 20% of apartments made accessible to Key Service Workers*.

Nightingale Housing mandate design attributes and energy efficiency standards that are above and beyond those found in traditional, developer-led models. Living spaces are oriented to capture northern light; windows and doors are double glazed and capitalise on the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ for cross ventilation and free passive cooling in summer.

These measures allow for a reduction in heating and cooling costs for each apartment, representing Nightingale Fremantle’s capacity for considerable ongoing savings for residents. These apartments achieve an outstanding average of 9.5 star NatHERS rating, well above the minimum requirement of 6 stars.

Each apartment has been carefully sited and designed to avoid overshadowing and overlooking of the others; residents can autonomously maintain their privacy and seek out interaction when it suits them. The communal rooftop is the social gathering place for all residents, and it boasts shared facilities such as an outdoor kitchen with sheltered decking and seating paired with a resident laundry and accessible toilet facilities.

Residents have the opportunity to partake in creating their own productive garden, with vegetable patches and landscaping complemented with a communal potting shed. Together, these rooftop amenities will foster interaction among the building’s residents and contribute to a genuine sense of community within the block.

In alliance with the Nightingale Model, Nightingale Fremantle will have an activated ground floor, with two ‘values-aligned’ commercial tenancies. These spaces will be vibrant hubs of activity, with a food providore / café and a second creative, community-based business such as a yoga studio. As the first building in Perth of its type, Nightingale heralds a new way of living: one that is in harmony with the environment among a community of people who share a similar outlook.

Sited within the Knutsford precinct, Nightingale Fremantle will appeal to buyers of all ages and stages of life, from younger first home buyers, to people with families, downsizers and empty-nesters.  Thanks to the tried-and-tested model that has proved successful in Melbourne, Nightingale Housing currently has three projects under construction and a further eight in various town planning stages. Fremantle buyers are set to enjoy apartments that nurture their residents and help them to build strong links with other people in their community.

Apartments will be available to owner-occupiers only and the process encourages purchasers to be involved in the design and construction phases of the project from early on. Interested buyers are advised to act quickly: once sold, these 15 apartments – like their Melbourne predecessors – are likely to become tightly held and highly sought after.

Nightingale Fremantle will be on display at the Sustainable House Day Expo from 13 – 16th Sept, and the Sustainability Showoff’s Presentation Friday 14th September at 6pm

To register your interest please contact Nightingale Housing

Grand Designs Freo: A Sustainable Housing Exhibition

We have a very exciting week ahead in Fremantle if sustainable buildings is your thing. In the lead up to Sustainable House Day that is happening around the country on Sunday, Fremantle is running a Sustainable Home Expo with some of the best sustainable projects in the nation on show from 13 – 16 September.

A key part of this will be the Grand Designs Freo Exhibition, an exhibition showcasing architectural drawings, 3D renders and photo of exceptional homes, designed or built for sustainability locally.

Some of Fremantle’s award-winning architects will exhibit their most sustainable residential housing designs, including: David Barr, Murray Slavin and Ben Braham.

Get a sneak peak at Michael Patroni’s designs for Landcorps latest development in Knustford street and learn more about Mirreco’s carbon negative hemp housing.

Come and be inspired by some of the most beautiful, creative or cleverly designed homes and housing developments in and around Fremantle.

High Street Mall, Fremantle

12pm – 5pm Thursday – Friday

10am – 4pm Saturday – Sunday

And it is all Free!