Bowden Development

18 Sep 2015

"Inspiring excellence in urban built form, Bowden mandates 5 Star Green Star benchmarks for all buildings."


Bowden Project Director, Renewal SA

Renewal SA’s Bowden Development, situated on the western edge of the Adelaide City Parklands, is redefining sustainable living in South Australia. Each and every building delivered on the 16.3 hectare site must achieve a 5 Star Green Star rating – or above. Renewal SA has raised the bar even higher, by also committing to achieve a Green Star – Communities rating for the entire precinct.

Sustainable places for people

From offices through to retail outlets and residential developments, all buildings at Bowden must meet 5 Star Green Star ‘Australian Excellence’ sustainability benchmarks.

Rivergum Homes’ Terraces on Sixth, comprising three stunning six-storey terraces, is just one inspiring example.  The first terraces in Australia to receive a 5 Star Green Star rating were designed to be energy-efficient.  North-facing orientation, cross-ventilation and high-performance glazing control heat gain and loss, while maximising natural light. 

According to Rivergum Homes’ General Manager – Property, Robert Alvaro, “each terrace comes with a raft of sustainability features we believe go beyond what’s considered to be the norm.”

All water fixtures and fittings were selected to minimise water consumption, and are complemented by 2,050-litre rainwater tanks installed in the grounds of each dwelling.  A third pipe system provides recycled water to all toilets.  A 1.5kW solar photovoltaic panel system generates renewable energy for each dwelling.

The unique façade is constructed with recycled bricks and lets in natural light while still maintaining visual privacy and blockage from excess sunlight.

Each dwelling has general waste bins and glass, plastic and recycling bins, along with a composting ‘Bokashi Bin’.

“We wanted to ensure that what we did was environmentally friendly while, at the same time, enhancing the comfort levels for occupants,” Robert says.

Working with the Green Star framework “demanded a fundamental shift in thinking from the traditional approach, not to mention the acquisition of new and greener skills among our designers,” Robert adds. 

It’s most gratifying to know that we are now firmly set in our commitment to a greener present and future.

Robert Alvaro, Rivergum Homes’ General Manager – Property

Green Star rising

56 Seventh Street, also three storey terraces, has a spaciousness rarely found in modern apartments.  The lavish chef’s kitchens, high ceilings, quality fixtures and fittings and large outdoor living areas may be clear for buyers to see.  Less obvious, however, are the impressive sustainability features, including quality insulation, high-performance LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances which all contribute to a coveted 5 Star Green Star rating.

“I’m a big fan of sustainable and efficient buildings – and Green Star gave us a method to objectively measure our achievements,” says Tim Schaefer, Director of Acdev, the building’s developer.

“Working within the Green Star framework also forced us to look at the project through a sustainability lens from the outset – and encouraged us to seek sustainable alternatives that we may not have otherwise considered,” Tim says.

These included “off-the-scale” thermal insulation that Tim says “no one had done before in Adelaide”, as well as recycled concrete that cost less and used 20 per cent less Portland cement thus reducing the environmental impact of the building materials.  

The first project at Bowden to register for a Green Star rating, 56 Seven Street was also the first to sell out.

More than mere buildings

Building at Bowden isn’t just a matter of bricks and mortar.  Renewal SA is creating a community that protects the natural environment, that is built for resilience, and that has people at its heart. 

The feeling of community extends beyond the front door and ties the residents of Bowden together. The unique approach to streetscape includes meeting places where residents and visitors alike can stop for a chat, curbless streets where people on foot and bike take priority, and parks with BBQs, water features and games to play. These are just some of the attributes you’ll find at Bowden.

Tania Rover, a new resident, is sold on the community.  “What I’ve really loved is that they’re trying to build this community. We’ve had wine and cheese nights to get to know each other, and the little touches like the free community library are great.” 

Working towards a Green Star – Communities rating, Bowden is currently being assessed against nine categories: governance, design excellence, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, liveability and innovation.

“Meeting Green Star benchmarks is about more than achieving environmental sustainability – although this is important.  It’s also about creating a vibrant, affordable, resilient and healthy place for people,” says the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew.

Once the rating is achieved, the people of Bowden will have independent proof that their community is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

"The community will really benefit from the initiatives that Green Star – Communities brings to Bowden. The ease of access to public transport and the streets designed for people, the coordinated urban and building designs reviewed by an independent Bowden Design Review panel, and the many community development programs – all these contribute to making Bowden a unique and highly desirable place to live," says Bowden’s Project Director Alicia Davidge.

Getting around

Passenger vehicles generate 7.5 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Green Star rewards developments that reduce the environmental impact of transportation through an integrated transport plan, by reducing the number of parking spaces allocated, and by encouraging the use of public transport and alternatives to single car commuting.

Bowden has developed a transport and parking strategy for its Green Star – Communities rating, but it’s already easy to live in Bowden without owning a car.  Residents live just 2.5 kilometres from the CBD.  The tram ride into town takes less than half an hour, and the train is even quicker. Bowden’s pedestrian and cycle paths encourage healthy, active living, and bikes can be borrowed for free from one of the local cafes.  Self-service access to shared cars is also available through GoGet.

Employment brings energy

Sustainable communities are prosperous communities that build a strong and resilient local labour force with a diverse range of businesses.

At Bowden there’s a state-of-the-art gym, cafes and restaurants, an authentic pub, well-stocked deli and a vintage shop.  An artist-run, not-for-profit space is a magnet for locals working in the arts. Nearby, a photographic studio, art gallery and co-working space have been converted from a bare warehouse, and are now popular with some of Adelaide’s elite artists.

A dance studio runs regular classes, circus workshops reach out to at-risk youth, and a cyclists’ collective gets together weekly to work on their bikes.

The Sunday Organic & Sustainable market has become a staple as people flock to sample the super fresh fruit, vegetables, coffee and the odd hemp shirt. 

“Renewal SA has a highly-successful training and employment program which mandates that developers support the local community to gain work through job placements and work experience. On average, each contract includes two to four work experience placements and one to three jobs,” Davidge explains.

Bowden’s mantra is “it’s the people that make the place”, and as Renewal SA’s vision takes shape, South Australia has a spectacular, sustainable place for people.

The Bowden development is owned by Renewal SA. For more information visit