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Innovative eco design saves costs for new apartment dwellers

Challenges surrounding infrastructure services in suburban Auckland has enabled an environmentally-conscious property developer to create innovative and cost-saving building solutions in a new sustainable apartment complex.

The Element apartment complex on the corner of Pukerangi Crescent and Arthur Street in Ellerslie is being constructed on a hill-top ridge without the need for a connection to Auckland Council’s storm-water system.

Developer Jim Castiglione said that while the lack of stormwater connectivity was initially a potential obstacle, it was quickly identified as an opportunity to work with Auckland Council and Watercare to find an innovative solution.

“When undertaking our due diligence for the property, we found there were no stormwater connections in the immediate area. Rain water was simply being captured in small onsite soakage pits or running off the hilltop into the clay and down the hill into catchment drains that were often struggling to cope with the volume during heavy rain periods,” Mr Castiglione said.

“Our team thought outside the box, and came up with a solution of installing our own stormwater and water conservation management system - where rainwater from the rooftops and landscaped gardens will be collected and stored in a pair of 100 cubic metre underground tanks.

“The water will be treated with a state-of-the-art on-site UV filtration system, and distributed around Element - including for drinking water in the 35 apartments and for non-drinking purposes such as bathroom and laundry use, as well as irrigating apartment owners’ and communal gardens.

“This ‘green’ initiative will lead to material water bill savings for apartment owners. And all without putting any additional stress on Council’s existing infrastructure.”

Element’s innovative water collection and reticulation system spearheads a number of sustainable and budget-saving building design innovations which residents within the complex will benefit from.

In addition, some 400 square metres of solar paneling will be installed on the roofs of the two buildings that make up Element. Electricity generated from the panels will be used to power lighting in Element’s communal areas and underground car park, as well as electric-vehicle recharging points, and heat and store energy in the complex’s central hot water system.

“Since launching Element to the market at the end of last year, the feedback we’ve had from purchasers is that being part of environmental sustainability in practice has real value to them - more so than a ‘star’ rating” certificate,” Mr Castiglione said.

“Of course we are meeting enviro’ star-rating standards too – building with permanent natural materials including concrete and clay bricks, installing double-glazed windows, and minimising the reliance on private transport by having bus stops immediately across the road, and Ellerslie Village with its train station just a short walk down the road.”

Construction of the three-storey Element buildings is scheduled to begin in March. More than 20 percent of the apartments have already been sold ‘off plan’ through Bayleys Remuera.

All upper level apartments within Element come with balconies, while the ground level apartments have landscaped courtyards planted with New Zealand native species. All apartments have a choice of vehicle parking options.

Amongst the other unique features within Element, more than 30 percent of the complex will be planted and irrigated with New Zealand native plants and shrubs, including a ‘living’ lobby roof of flora that connects the two buildings.

Bayleys Remuera sales manager Rachel Dovey said each apartment had unrivalled views – ranging from landscaped courtyards at ground level, to elevated positions capturing spectacular views – taking in One Tree Hill to the west, Rangitoto to the north, Sky Tower to the north-west, and Mount Wellington to the east.

Apartment owners will also have access to an expansive rooftop terrace and garden with residents lounge to enjoy the 360 degree views and stunning sunrises and sunsets.

On completion, Element will contain 20 two-bedroom apartments and 15 one-bedroom apartments, Ms Dovey said. The two-bedroom apartments ranged in size from 71 square metres to 77 square metres and were being marketed for sale from $795,000, while the one-bedroom units ranged in size from 51 square metres to 60 square metres and were being marketed for sale from $555,000.

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