It all began with a dream, which is soon to become reality for up to 550 people. That dream is Narara Ecovillage, an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world located in Narara New South Wales – an hour’s drive north of Sydney. Pushing the boundaries of conventional building, water and power models in New South Wales, Narara Ecovillage aims to be carbon neutral – maybe even carbon positive – whilst building a stylish, inter-generational and friendly community. The ecovillage resides on 64 hectares of land, where 35 hectares is biologically diverse native forest, 15-20 hectares is reserved for development and the remaining area will be used for food production.
To achieve high levels of sustainability, the ecovillage has developed and applied various principles during the planning stages, which are simple yet effective steps towards making a difference to the environment. Some of these principles include replacing traditional fencing with shrubs and trees, encouraging construction of smaller homes made utilising sustainable materials, situating houses in the natural setting of the native forest and prioritising pedestrian and cycling access around the village with vehicle parking kept to the outskirts of the property. In addition to these simple yet effective principals, the ecovillage has equipped cutting edge technology for both power and water supply to its residents.
Energy will be supplied to the village’s dwellings through an intelligent community-scale smart grid. Set to be one of the most advanced in Australia, rooftop solar cells on homes and community buildings, in addition to freestanding solar farms, are used to generate green energy which is fed into the smart grid. Utilising a high-tech European-sourced ‘tap change transformer’ and other advanced technology, the grid manages when energy should be consumed, stored or exported. To efficiently manage energy distribution, the smart grid will take into consideration weather conditions, such as if it’s sunny or cloudy, along with time-of-day demand. On the rare occasion where there may be an energy deficit, electricity will be imported from the local grid.
For the village water supply, Narara Ecovillage was recently granted a community-owned water licence, which is a first for any community enterprise in New South Wales. This licence permits the ecovillage to provide its residents with drinking water from its own catchment and on-site dam. The damn has a capacity of 45 million litres, which is primarily fed by one of the tributaries of Narara Creek and supplemented by catchments in the surrounding Strickland State Forest. The licence also allows for the treatment of waste water that is to be used for flushing toilets, watering gardens and the agriculture needs of the ecovillage. These water initiatives allow the community to be 100% water self-sufficient. Acquiring the licence was not an easy process for the community, with award-winning water recycling company Aquacell assisting from initial development of the project to providing operational support for the running of the water system.
With a smart energy grid and sustainable water supply, it makes sense for residents to further push the envelope of efficiency into their homes. This includes the decision of which hot water system to install. With no natural gas supply, selection is limited to systems which use electricity to generate hot water. Glenn Day of STIEBEL ELTRON visited residents to discuss the option of using air source WWK-range hot water heat pumps in their homes. Hot water heat pumps manufactured by STIEBEL ELTRON are up to 74% more efficient than electric storage tanks, translating to savings for the residents and ensuring that the precious solar energy generated by the ecovillage is used to run household appliances like the washing machine or dish washer. In addition to the savings, STIEBEL hot water heat pumps operate down to -5°C, covering operation in the Narara climate. The WWK range of hot water heat pumps are solar PV ready, meaning when there is sufficient amounts of solar energy available, the heat pump will raise water temperatures from 61°C to 65°C. This increase in hot water temperature equates to less hot water required to meet desired usage temperatures and therefore offers additional savings. For residents wanting to take sustainability and efficiency a step further, STIEBEL ELTRON offers a range of ventilation with heat recovery which are ideal for houses utilising airtight construction methods.
STIEBEL ELTRON’s range of efficient products are an excellent match for the community of Narara Ecovillage. We look forward to collaborating with residents to assist in accomplishing their vision and goals of establishing a sustainable and self-sufficient community. If you have any questions regarding the development of the Narara Ecovillage community, or regarding any STIEBEL ELTRON hot water heat pumps, please contact us by phone on 1800 153 351 or through our Facebook page.