Sustainability, like “green” and “eco,” is a word that is viewed with suspicion in the property and housing industry. It is often used in a very one-dimensional way to market housing developments or a building products, for example, that have one “sustainable” feature or technology, but that are in all other aspects very conventional. We believe that true sustainability is not about being slighty more environmentally friendly than your neighbour: it is about trying to live simply and lightly in a way that best conserves and regenerates resources for future generations to enjoy.
At the Witchcliffe Ecovillage, our objective has always been to create the most sustainable, fully featured ecovillage possible. We want to create a model to demonstrate what can be achieved in a residential subdivision with good planning, strong environmental principles, sensible financial management and technological innovation. Our design team has made triple bottom line decisions about every single aspect of the project. For every planning and design decision, whether about wastewater, energy, materials, transport, etc., we have asked ourselves: “Does this solution tick all 3 boxes of social, environmental and economic sustainability?” This has been an involved and time-consuming process, with the right solutions sometimes taking years to come together. Wherever possible we have worked in-house and used local consultants to keep our costs low and provide local employment, because we believe an ecovillage has to be affordable if it’s to be a socially inclusive model for the future.
There are a number of different accreditation bodies for sustainable developments, but we have chosen not to spend extra money and time earning “green stars.” Instead, we are simply proud to make the claim that the Witchcliffe Ecovillage will feature:
100% renewable energy; 100% water self-sufficiency; environmentally sensitive waste water treatment; solar passive house design and lot layouts; low carbon, and where possible, local building materials; waste management systems; bike and pedestrian friendly path networks; local employment and business opportunities; conservation of remnant bush habitat and streams, protection of wildlife and control of domestic animals; and, most importantly, a healthy, caring, socially inclusive community that is set up to be largely self sufficient in organic food.