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Vaughan Constructions to develop an environmentally sustainable industrial estate

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Industrial land developers have been slow to embrace the environmental initiatives that have gripped the commercial property market, but that could change with two green industrial developments now planned for Victoria.

Industrial builder Vaughan Constructions has said that it plans to develop an environmentally sustainable industrial estate on a 50-hectare parcel of land in Melbourne's north.

The site at the corner of Cooper Street and the Hume Freeway, could accommodate up to 200,000 square metres of warehouse and manufacturing space, said Vaughan Constructions marketing manager Mark Byrne.

Byrne said the company would focus on capturing and recycling stormwater from warehouses to be built on the Cooper Street site.

"Every bit of stormwater produced will be used on that estate," he said.

"We think there is demand for it, and it is a matter, hopefully, of getting people to understand it is the way forward."

The move towards sustainable principles follows a surge of green development in the commercial office sector.

But until now industrial estates have lagged behind other sectors when it comes to the environment. The state's development authority, VicUrban, is one exception.

It is at present developing a $150m environmentally sustainable industrial park in Dandenong, called Logis, with Melbourne Water.

The site was formerly the Dandenong treatment plant, which was decommissioned in 1996. Remediation work by Melbourne Water is now under way to rid the site of contaminants.

The redeveloped park will include wetlands and sporting fields for staff. Sustainable design principles will be applied to the buildings, including using building materials with low embodied energy.

Water will be recycled and stormwater will be treated in the wetlands, before being discharged into Dandenong Creek. The feasibility of renewable energy is being investigated.

Earlier in 2007, the Green Building Council of Australia announced it would develop a green star rating system for industrial estates.

While the Australian warehouse and manufacturing industry is yet to see a spike in environmentally friendly industrial developments, examples are emerging overseas.

One case is the $US2bn ($A2.4b) overhaul of the Ford assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

According to the company, the new plant features the world's largest living roof — about 500,000 square metres — planted with a perennial called sedum, which captures and filters rainfall, but also insulates the building and is expected to last twice as long as a conventional roof.

More than 1500 trees and thousands of other plants create a habitat for birds, and some serve specific functions to improve stormwater management and naturally rid the soil of contaminants.

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