A zero carbon apartment building

In Yarra, we’re seeing leaders in the development industry respond to growing demand in the community for zero carbon, healthy and climate resilient homes and workplaces. We are keen to promote further leading sustainable developments that would meet zero carbon standards.  If you have a suggestion for a zero carbon development to be featured, please contact Yarra City Council on 9205 5555 or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au

The Rochester: 178 – 182 Johnston St, Fitzroy  

 Illustration of the Rochester development, Johnston St, Fitzroy

Image by Myles Montgomery

Development summary 

This Fitzroy building consists of 24 apartments with a mixture of one, two and three-bedrooms and two ground floor commercial tenancies on a 631 square metre site.

With a commitment to achieving zero-net carbon emissions for the building’s operations, this all-electric, fossil-fuel free development has no connection to a mains gas supply. All energy needs are met from renewable sources through a combination of grid-supplied electricity via an embedded network and an on-site solar PV system. The ‘all-electric strategy’ also includes efficient electrical building services and appliances and electric vehicle charging.

The building will achieve a 7.0star NaTHERS average energy rating through a strong focus on the performance of the thermal envelope. The integration of a range of ESD measures that together deliver strong ESD outcomes including being intentionally designed to minimise energy use, improve the indoor environment, conserve water and a focus on long lasting materials with high reusability.

This development has planning approval and is under construction.

Developer: Cremorne Enterprises 
Project Team: Project Manager – PDS Group, Architect – Ola Studio, Interior Design - Breathe Architecture

Key zero carbon development features 

Powered by 100% renewable energy 

The development includes an embedded network for the supply of electricity to the occupants and to power building services.  This network enables the bulk purchase of 100% GreenPower electricity via the owners’ corporation from an off-site renewable energy generator, enabling the building to meet all its energy needs from renewable sources.

On-site renewable electricity generation: A modest 4.5kW solar array is proposed for the roof to power common area services and reduce owners corporation running costs, rather than feeding excess power into the grid.  

Energy efficiency and performance

  • The building will achieve a 7.0 star NaTHERS average energy rating through a strong focus on the performance of the thermal envelope.
  • A high performing thermal envelope, has improved passive thermal comfort and reducing demand for air-conditioned heating and cooling as well as decreasing the peak demand on the electricity network. 
  • The building orientation has sort to maximise the number of apartments receiving beneficial passive solar heating to bedroom and living spaces throughout the day in winter months. 
  • Double glazed windows with low E panes retain warmth in winter and keep heat out in summer and also minimise noise. 
  • Summer thermal comfort is improved by the exposed thermal mass ceilings in the living spaces and ceiling fans installed in bedrooms and living areas. 
  • In winter, hydronic heating wall panels together with low speed ceiling fans de-stratify the heated air pooling near the ceiling.
  • All apartments are shaded against unwanted summer gains through a combination of overhanging balconies, fixed masonry screens, fixed metal shade screens, awnings and manually controlled external vertical blinds.
  • For heating hot water, the development has a centralised, efficient, refrigerant-free heat pump system, which will be powered from renewable generation (a combination of on-site and off-site sources).
  • Apartments include efficient split system air-conditioning, dishwashers and induction cooktops. 
  • Along with efficient LED lighting throughout, occupancy and daylight sensor controls will reduce energy consumption in common areas.

Sustainable transport 

  • 34 secure bike spaces for occupants (1.25 spaces per apartment), with 4 staff secure spaces are also provided for the commercial tenancies and 7 visitor spaces.
  • End of trip facilities are provided through showers and secure staff lockers for the commercial tenancies.
  • Car share schemes and public transport are readily accessible to the development. 
  • Car spaces come embedded with technology to provide for electric vehicle charging in future. 

Other sustainability features 

Indoor Environment Quality

  • Effective natural ventilation is provided to all the apartments’ habitable rooms and the ground floor commercial tenancies through natural ventilation openings in the façade. 

Rainwater harvesting 

  • The stormwater treatment strategy includes a 10,000 litre rainwater tank with stored water to be used for toilet flushing and planter box irrigation.

Building materials

  • The development has a focus on locally sourced, non-toxic materials and finishes and the use of durable materials with high reusability in the long term
  • Timber flooring and veneers will be sourced from Forest Stewardship Council certified sources and with a natural low VOC finish protecting indoor air.


  • The builder will target a minimum 70% recycling rate for construction and demolition waste. 
  • Dual chute waste management system ensure that recycling is just as convenient for residents as disposing of general rubbish.  

Urban ecology

  • Ground floor planter boxes enable planting to enhance biodiversity.

Facade detail of The Rochester development, Johnston St, Fitzroy