Waste, energy and water

5 green tech innovations powering Green Square

The big and green innovations behind some of the little things you can do in the area.

Green Square infographic

It’s a sunny weekend and you’ve decided to go for a bike ride to Green Square. From Central, the universities or Centennial Park it’s just a 15 minute leisurely ride away. The buzzy, fast-growing neighbourhood has more separated cycle routes than any other part of Sydney.

You might pop in to Green Square’s stunning underground library where you can tinker in the Ideas Lab or borrow an acoustic instrument in the music room. You may pass by an event in the plaza on your way to see an exhibition at the creative centre. If you grab a bite to eat, there are more than 35 parks and plazas perfect to enjoy a picnic in, and all of them bike-friendly.

So you’ll be enjoying the new facilities - without the parking hassle. But what you won’t see is the amount of green technology behind them.

Some of our efforts to reduce our environmental impact are highly visible, like the solar panels already installed on 35 of our public buildings or our new fleet of electric vehicles. But less obvious is the way our infrastructure is quietly transforming the lives of many residents and visitors.

By the time Green Square town centre is completed, much of what you’ll do will have an unseen, eco-friendly dimension to it.

Sustainability in Green Square
Sustainability in Green Square

Flush a toilet (and save a tree)

When you use the public toilets in Green Square’s library or creative centre, you may notice the purple pipes connected to the toilet cisterns. These taps are specifically for recycled storm water and they’re being fitted to every new building in the town centre.

Green Square is the site of Australia’s biggest stormwater harvesting and recycling scheme. Instead of letting 900,000L of polluted stormwater flow out to sea each day, it will be recycled and treated to flush toilets, wash clothes and irrigate gardens.

This water is 10c a kilolitre cheaper than precious drinking water. This helps make the town centre’s green spaces virtually drought-proof.

Stormwater harvested from a 2km underground drain is piped to the Green Infrastructure Centre. It is filtered through membranes fine enough to remove ions and molecules as well as salts, bacteria and other pathogens. Finally, the recylced water is stored next door, in enormous tanks under Matron Ruby Grant Park.

From there it is piped straight to the public toilets nearby – and to wherever else it’s needed throughout the town centre.

Water treatment in Green Square
Water treatment in Green Square

Buy some (low emissions) coffee

When the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre opens in mid-2020, the power used to grind your coffee beans at the pool’s cafe won’t just be solar-generated. It’ll come from a super-efficient, low-carbon mini-grid connecting every public building in the Green Square town centre.

This mini-grid allows excess solar energy from 1 site to be used by others. For example, if the solar power generated on the childcare centre is greater than the energy it uses, the excess will be fed to another community building. This means every viable square metre of roof space can be used for solar power.

The entire network has only 1 connection to Sydney’s electricity grid, in turn saving money the City spends on energy bills.

Solar power
Solar power

Explore new ground (for the latest in sustainability)

Whether you go for a swim or borrow a book in Green Square, both will expose you to some eye-opening architecture.

The striking subterranean library stays cool in summer while retaining heat in winter. Its innovative design includes a garden atrium and an abundance of carefully placed skylights.

Natural light will also be a big feature of the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Constructed from sustainable materials, the centre will have rooftop solar panels and recycled water, like every other new public building in Green Square.

Right from the start, Green Square was planned as a sustainable community, and received a 6 star Green Star – Communities rating in mid-2019. The rating certifies the precinct as meeting the world's highest standards in liveability, economic and environmental sustainability, and innovation.

Green Square Library
Green Square Library

Toss a box (and double down on being green)

Using a yellow-lidded bin is environmentally friendly wherever you do it. But recycling in Sydney’s inner south is that little bit more green. The collection of recyclables is being managed from a carbon-conscious facility.

Built from special eco-concrete, our Alexandra Canal recycling depot was designed to maximise natural light and ventilation. It has 6 large rainwater tanks, includes energy-efficient devices and equipment, and boasts more than 1600 solar panels.

It also features a large-scale Tesla battery that allows the building to store as much energy as it uses.


Say goodbye to Green Square (but not to its renewables)

Even if you don’t live in Green Square, you may benefit from its green technology.

The 250 kW Tesla powerpack at Alexandra Depot was the first installed as part of a city-wide trial with electricity grid manager, Ausgrid. Any extra power stored in the depot’s battery can be used by Ausgrid to meet network demand. This helps to keep your energy bills down – and may eventually end up in your electric kettle.

So when you finally arrive home after your strenuous south Sydney outing, remember this as you put your feet up. While you might have left Green Square behind, it will still be working for you.

Green technology
Green technology

Green Square timeline

Published 14 August 2018, updated 5 November 2019