Victorian Desalination Plant
290,626 sf Extensive Greenroof
Greenroofs.com Featured Project June 23, 2022
The many powerful aspects of Nature take center stage in this Featured Project Series showcase: the outstanding Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi, Australia. From the power needed to desalinate water (the plant’s power requirements are 100% offset by renewable energy) to the recreation of the natural dune ecosystem present before development using all native plants indigenous to the area, the Victorian Desalination Plant is green infrastructure at its finest.
Needing a resilient fresh water supply to the Melbourne area when water storage levels were critically low, the forward-thinking Victorian Government greatly researched appropriate desalination sites, methodologies, and environmental and cultural considerations before site construction commencement.
The controversial plan was heavily debated and finally completed in 2012, yet the plant didn’t produce its first water order until 2016. Interestingly, the plant is not currently producing water as it completed the 2021-22 water order earlier this month. It is expected, however, to start delivering the 2022-23 water order of 15 gigalitres in September/October 2022.
The Victorian Desalination Plant plays a critical role in Melbourne’s water future, and does so responsibly and sustainably, serving as an excellent example for the rest of the world to emulate. Kudos to all!
Excerpt from the Greenroofs.com Project Profile:
A private/public partnership between Victorian Government and Aquasure, the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi represents the largest public sector investment in water infrastructure in Australia’s history. Using reverse osmosis technology to separate salt from seawater to create high quality drinking water, the project underpins water security for Melbourne and surrounding regions.
The design brief was to replicate what would have been growing there prior to human habitation on this ecologically sensitive coastal area. Since the dunes were missing, ARM Architecture surrounded the plant with new ones to help conceal it visually and acoustically.
Requiring a design which made the structure barely visible from all public viewing points, the plant is covered with a 27,000 square meter living tapestry of indigenous plants making it the largest green roof in the southern hemisphere. And the 225-hectare site will become a re-vegetated native parkland and ecological preserve.
The landscape architecture firm of ASPECT Studios chose native species tolerant of high heat, salt drift, drought, and wind. Around 110,000 tube stocks of indigenous ground covers, sedges, lilies, succulents, and non-wood shrubs were used. They say the project uses only on-site water capture and has returned local fauna, including endangered species and internationally significant migratory birds.
Amenities within the ecological reserve include 8km of pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian trails; wayfinding and interpretation including indigenous history of the Bunurong/Boon wurrung people of the Kulin nation, their uses of the land and the effects of European settlement; boardwalks for discovering bird hides; viewing decks; and picnic shelters.
The site and scale of the green roof presented a number of challenges, and the slopes vary considerably from 1 – 22%. Designer and installer Fytogreen Australia maintained several test beds at various slopes during the research phase. The waterproofing membrane had to allow for potential movement from kilometers of joints, and the Sika Sarnafil system was chosen.
A project of formidable scale, the Victorian Desalination Plant is part water treatment infrastructure and part environmental restoration.
Its sensitive combination of living architecture and green infrastructure transforms degraded land into mosaics of coastal and swampy woodlands, wetlands, and dune ecologies.
Owner: Government of Victoria and Aquasure
Building Program: Industrial
Greenroof Type: Extensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 290,626 sq.ft.
Slope: 1 – 22%
DESIGN, INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE:
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By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host