Sea Green

The Barangaroo Harbor area of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, was once a bustling harbor, with warehouses and ships crowding the waterfront. In recent years, however, traffic at the 22,000-hectare (54,363-acre) site petered out, leaving a dismal spread of disused container wharves.

To remove the blight on Sydney’s waterfront—and rejuvenate the local economy—the New South Wales government launched a AUD6 billion redevelopment project to transform the port into an urban destination featuring a new headland park, public waterfront paths, a civic arts area, commercial office towers and apartments. Launched in 2003, the project is expected to end in 2020. When completed, it will accommodate up to 23,000 workers and residents, and host an estimated 12 million annual visitors. But the project’s goals go beyond the aesthetic and commercial. Sustainability is a common thread through all aspects of the redevelopment. “Sustainable designs and initiatives have served as instrumental project components at each delivery stage—environmentally, socially and economically,” says  Phil Paris, development director at the Sydney-based Barangaroo Delivery Authority, which is leading the project. “We will be carbon-neutral and water-positive, generate zero waste, and enhance the well-being of the community.”

In April 2008, bidding opened globally for the development rights for the southern precinct known as Barangaroo South. Following a comprehensive review process in the categories of finance, risk, design, sustainability, planning and delivery, marketing and promotion, and capability, two organizations were asked to further develop their proposals. Before starting construction in 2011, the delivery authority embarked on extensive community consultation, including the public display of both proposals.

“Given its scale and importance, Barangaroo has and will continue to attract a variety of opinions and ideas,” says Natalie Soltyszewski, project spokesperson. “We welcome those ideas and have a comprehensive engagement program in place to capture them. The public display of the proposals was to share with the community the designs submitted by both proponents.”

Finally, in November 2009, the competition for the public domain design of Headland Park was launched. The park is expected to open in 2015, with the first commercial buildings at Barangaroo South opening that same year. When that happens, the prime parcel of Sydney waterfront will once again be open to its public.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The development’s coastal frontage creates ample opportunity for water conservation efforts. The facilities will use recycled water for flushing toilets, irrigation and fire sprinklers. Throughout the construction process, the Barangaroo team has required external agencies, contractors and vendors to manage onsite activities while keeping sustainability in mind by:

  • Manufacturing soil on-site from sandstone and recycled waste
  • Sorting and separating waste for recycling or reusing, thereby reducing landfill waste by 97 percent during the construction phase
  • Complying with heating and cooling restrictions to save energy
  • Planting only native plants and trees in Headland Park—90 percent of which will be common species

Building a Green Zone

The Barangaroo team is maximizing every feasible opportunity to make the project sustainable. On-site solar power generators, combined with an off-site solar farm in the region, will create more electricity than the development will use. The excess electricity will power approximately 5,000 homes.

The Lay of the Land

Barangaroo consists of three major developments, each slated for completion at different times:

Headland Park: More than 50 percent of Barangaroo is dedicated to public space, and most of that will be in the Headland Park area, which is currently under construction and slated to open in 2015. It will feature restored headlands and a 2.2-kilometer (1.4-mile) public foreshore walk. The project calls for building up the headlands’ height while emphasizing their natural shape.

Barangaroo Central: The creative heart of the region, the central area will feature a civic arts space managed by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority. It is currently in the design phase.

Barangaroo South: The area’s commercial center will include premier real estate in hopes of attracting financial organizations, as well as residential development.

Getting There

“Headland Park is not a business-as-usual product, and therefore detailed design studies have been undertaken in relation to how it will be built. We are setting a project culture plan dedicated to ensuring that we create a high-performance team from the top down, with all members being inducted into the culture and understanding the project vision, values and objectives,” Mr. Paris. says. “We will also be providing and promoting access to facilities for walking, cycling and recreation through design for active living and healthy lifestyles.”

To further encourage sustainable lifestyles, Barangaroo offers easy access to public transportation and electric-car power stations.

The Sustainability Framework

The Barangaroo Delivery Authority maintains close relations with its major development and construction partners by working side-by-side with them throughout the process.

Dedicated development managers from the authority and the major contractor for each development area oversee the implementation of the project’s values, objectives, and specific policies and initiatives. “As part of their contractual agreements, all major development and construction partners are required to ensure these elements flow down to their subcontractors,” Mr. Paris says.

Vendor contracts include stipulations that retailers and suppliers avoid excessive packaging, reduce waste, and offer healthy food choices from local and sustainable sources. In addition, the authority emphasizes the importance of offering affordable retail and office space to encourage new enterprises.

Sidebar: Life Lessons

Sustainability isn’t limited to environmental consciousness; it can also mean teaching local workers the skills they’ll need to continue the project’s vision

once construction is completed. The Barangaroo team implemented a workplace policy and learning model that provides formal and non-formal learning opportunities to promote ongoing sustainability education.

Both of Barangaroo’s major development and construction partners are currently implementing the model via workplace participation programs, which entail:

  • Providing up to eight hours of training relevant to sustainability principles and practices employed across the project
  • Using apprentices or trainees on 20 percent of all trade work contracted or subcontracted on site
  • Accessing funding opportunities via partnerships with relevant agencies and learning providers
  • Providing key workers with affordable housing, as well as green skill-building and local employment opportunities

Article Appears in PMI’s PM Network March 2013 issue. 

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