We all want a home we can afford, one that fosters social connection and is kind to the planet. What sounds like a simple premise requires nothing less than a revolution in housing. Here is how we are making it a reality.
Sustainability is often considered an optional expense — something that gets added late in a project, if the budget allows. Nightingale designs each building with a holistic approach to sustainability, following basic principles of passive design and material reductionism.
We work hard to reduce the energy consumption, carbon emissions and waste in the construction, operation and maintenance of each Nightingale building. This starts in the demolition phase (where any existing structures on site are dismantled and salvageable materials are recycled where possible) and extends all the way to the chemical-free, natural detergents that are bulk-bought for use in communal laundries.
Nightingale recognises that we’re in a climate emergency. We’re committed to only delivering all-electric, fossil fuel-free homes and commercial spaces. To reduce the embodied energy footprint, we work with recycled, natural and locally-sourced materials where feasible.
Nightingale is based on the idea of living simply. We deliver well-built, sustainable homes with unashamed material honesty. We take out things like second bathrooms, individual laundries and individual car parking to reduce the cost of construction and ongoing maintenance. Instead, we include things that are important for creating healthy, comfortable homes, like double glazing, excellent insulation and 100% certified GreenPower (?).
We put in what’s needed and leave out what isn’t, thereby enabling a sustainable lifestyle that extends beyond the building itself. It’s about building less, to give more.
Nightingale apartments are designed to be energy efficient, which means that residents are cooler on hot days and warmer on cold days.
High thermal insulation, passive ventilation, solar shading and thermal modelling enable most of our buildings to forgo air-conditioning, leading to an average NatHERS (?) rating of at least 7.5 stars (often more), which is well over the regulatory requirement of 6.
When we asked people what they needed in a home, they said space, light, an outlook, windows that open — really simple things.”
Sustainability doesn’t have to cost extra. In fact, many of our efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of both building and inhabiting Nightingale apartments lower the cost of living. Here are some of the affordability measures we usually employ:
We want people to be invested in their homes, their neighbours, and their neighbourhood. Nightingale homes are only sold to residents and community housing providers — not investors.
Our buildings offer generous communal spaces, such as communal laundries, productive gardens, bath and guest houses, so that there are more chances to meet a neighbour and develop a sense of community.
At Nightingale, we often say ‘We build the garden beds, you grow the garden!’ This is true literally, but it’s also a metaphor: a building can only provide the conditions for connection to take place; it’s the residents themselves that make it a thriving community.
Living sustainably also means having your lifestyle within reach. That’s why we locate buildings in well-appointed urban areas, accessible by public transport, cycling routes, car-share and other local amenities.
The Green Travel Plan (?) is integrated into the contract of sale. For example, we partner with car-share providers such as GoGet to offer affordable, convenient alternatives to private car ownership, thereby reducing the impact of car dependency on our neighbourhoods and our planet. Each building also offers generous bike parking facilities that are easy to access and encourage the use of active transport.
We ensure that homes are safe and healthy spaces, free from irritating or harmful materials by, for example, using low VOC finishes that keep the air clean. We install raw brass or raw metal fittings because they age more gracefully and don’t contain many of the hazardous chemicals used in chrome plating.
Green spaces are crucial to physical and mental health, so we include generous rooftop gardens (with veggie planter boxes), green facades and other plantings throughout the building. Green spaces are connected to a built-in rainwater harvesting system, keeping them lush year-round.
We understand that buying ‘off the plan’ requires a leap of faith. At Nightingale, we enjoy ongoing engagement with purchasers throughout the entire construction process. We facilitate regular meetings (often on Zoom, sometimes in person) to provide updates and photos from the construction site. There is plenty of time to meet future neighbours or ask the architects questions. We also try to facilitate visits to the site at key milestones of the project.
At Nightingale, we believe that the residential property industry can and must do more to address housing inequality and insecurity. As such, we aim to pre-allocate up to 20% of our homes to community housing providers, who give affordable, long-term leases to vulnerable members of our community.
Through priority balloting, we also allocate 20% of available apartments in each building to so-called key community contributors (e.g. teachers, nurses, social workers); individuals with a disability, carers, single women 55 and over, and Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
We understand that life is ever-evolving and at some stage residents may want to move on, downsize or upsize as their circumstances change.
We have developed a special process for the resale of Nightingale homes that allows their affordability to be passed on to the next generation of residents. This process also seeks to attract owner-occupiers instead of property investors, encouraging a community of long-term residents to flourish. Central to this process is a caveat — a set of special rules — which applies to new and most existing projects:
Because Nightingale is a not-for-profit and homes are sold ‘at cost’, this resale price restriction is intended to deter speculation upon the margin between the sale price and the market value.
As an opportunity for first-home buyers to break free from the rental market and own their home, Nightingale includes so-called Teilhaus apartments in many of its buildings.
Teilhaus apartments are space-efficient, small-footprint homes that maintain functionality through joinery and flexible spaces. Priced from around $275,000, Teilhauses offer an affordable stepping stone in home ownership. Read more about Teilhaus apartments here.
We believe developers have a responsibility not just towards the residents of a building, but those in the surrounding urban setting. That’s why the design of every Nightingale building aims to give back to the local environment — for example by creating connected communities, active street frontages, generous greenery and open spaces, tactile pedestrian experiences for passers-by, and commercial spaces for values-aligned businesses.
Nightingale acknowledges that we build on land that was stolen from First Nations peoples and we operate in an economy bound by systemic racism. We feel it’s our responsibility to respect the rights of all people, which compels us to act to help end this inequality and racism.
We recognise the role we play in turning our intentions into clear actions through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Part of this plan is what we call ‘paying the rent’: every Nightingale apartment pays approximately $100 per year (as added OC fees) that goes directly to Indigenous organisations such as Aboriginal Housing Victoria.
We hope to lead the Australian housing, property and development sector towards this simple act of reconciliation that, when adopted across the entire country, could lead to substantial funds for tackling issues of inequality faced by Indigenous Australians.
Many of the Nightingales buildings have been recognised for their innovative approach towards sustainability, community and affordability through local and national awards. Here are just a few: