Environmentally conscious Leura Garage customers can rest assured that great care is taken to minimise its carbon footprint. Owner James Howarth is aware that many people choose to live and visit the Blue Mountains because of its proximity to pristine wilderness. It was a given that the development of Leura Garage be as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible. Joe Mercieca, director of Blue Eco Homes, came on board with a similar mindset. His team has been involved since Leura Garage was redeveloped. “I love a challenge and when the idea came along for a restaurant on the site I thought it was fantastic,” Joe says. “It has a lovely northerly aspect and sure enough, now that the restaurant is open and the weather is cooling down, as soon as there is a bit of sun everybody is out enjoying it.”
Joe’s team’s first challenge was to demolish parts of the building, cutting new openings and closing others, all while respecting the heritage of the building. “It is a typical Blue Mountains construction, utilising natural resources at hand such as sandstone, clay and cement…almost like a rammed earth structure,” he says.
Heavy exposed steel behind the bar adds to the desired industrial ambience of the building, but it also works to support the building. Next came the task of decontaminating the site, which involved removing 250 tonne of soil contaminated with garage byproducts, creating a hole 7.5 metres deep and three cars wide. They turned the contaminated area into something special by installing 22,000 litres of rainwater storage, making the restaurant self-sustainable for its water needs. “The restaurant is plumbed to the rainwater tanks which supply water for the coffee machine, dishwasher, drinking water (using a three-stage water purifier) and bathroom,” Joe says.
Harnessing the sun is another environmental plus for the business and the builders installed a 10kw photovoltake system, taking up 90-100 square metres of roof space, to generate power fed back into the grid and significantly reduce energy bills (or eliminate energy bills…nice). There is also an evacuated tube solar gas boosted system to heat water for commercial use and 300 metres of hot water piping in the slab to transfer heat into the thermal mass of the cement floor. Insulation is another consideration with a foil blanket and bulk insulation under the new roof. A skylight 10 metres long and two metres wide spans both sides of the roof to increase natural light in the restaurant and “bring the outside in”. Together with the use of energy efficient LED and fluorescent lighting, three and four star rated bathroom fixtures, and the use of low emitting paint makes Leura Garage a shining light in eco construction in one of the most beautiful natural environments in the world.
All the hard work of Joe's team has been rewarded, when Leura Garage received 2 MBA Excellence in Construction Awards, at the Master Builders Association of NSW, dinner
The MBA Excellence in Construction Awards are the commercial building sector’s most valued awards, with nominations received from the majority of large construction companies across the State. Competition is particularly fierce in the commercial arena and this extends to the Excellence in Construction Awards where only the very best in commercial construction are honoured.