Randwick Sustainability Hub

Good, take-away ideas

We've retrofitted the Randwick Community Centre for energy and water efficiency. A photovoltaic panel array, wind turbine, interior improvements to energy and water use, a range of rainwater tanks and our PIG (Permaculture Interpretive Garden) offer plenty of take-home ideas that you can adapt to your own house and garden.

Recently, we installed a new reedbed toilet and filtered drinking water bubbler. Now you can refill your water bottle with clean, filtered water instead of throwing it away empty. There's even a drinking station for your thirsty dog.

We have now opened The Classroom, made from recycled materials and our Balcony Garden Display area during International Permaculture Day on Sunday 3 May 2015.

Adjacent to the Randwick Community Centre you will find the Randwick Environment Park with its 13 hectares of parkland, bushland and wetland. There are 92 species of indigenous plants that have been identified to date.

Walk our trails...

The classroom

The Classroom is a passive-solar building design that utilises the permaculture principle to produce 'no waste'. The function of the classroom is to run school excursions and community sustainability workshops. The classroom can also be hired by the local community for educational purposes.

The building makes extensive use of the following recycled materials:

  • telegraph poles for structural support (12 in total)
  • hardwood posts for structural support
  • recycled floorboards (130 sqm)
  • recycled aggregate in the concrete floor
  • plywood ceiling/cladding (200 sqm)
  • recycled timber for window and door frame
  • repurposed kitchenette (recycled laminate carcass)
  • bricks and lime mortar (150 sqm - locally sourced)
  • recycled plastic edging for pathway (170m) and
  • 1x 8000L rainwater tank.

The building has been constructed entirely from repurposed and recycled materials. The external cladding of the building is recycled hardwood floorboards from an old warehouse and the structural beams and columns are recycled telegraph poles. Recycled timber and bricks have also been used extensively through the works. The building has also been design to incorporate the open louvers which allow the cool north-east breezes to flow through in summer.  Rainwater is also harvested from the roof and pumped up to the reed-bed toilets.

The building has been designed to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The pergola on the northern side of the building uses passive solar design to control the interior temperature. In the winter the concrete floor warms up during the day to keep the inside temperature warm.

The Classroom

Reedbed toilet

A reed-bed toilet system has been installed for public use. The toilet has a 'Rootzone model reed-bed filter system' to break down the material and filter the wastewater so it can be used for irrigation around the Community Centre. This system is a living, self-cleaning biological filter that removes disease organisms, nutrients, organic materials, petroleum-related chemicals and other polluting compounds for the wastewater.

The effluent flows through the successive stages of the bio-filter noted below:

  • septic tank
  • horizontal sub-surface flow reed bed filter tank
  • vertical flow reed-bed filter tank
  • UV disinfection unit and
  • irrigation pump — this takes the final water to the garden irrigation system after disinfection.

The breakdown of contaminants and the treatment of the wastewater is achieved by the controlled seepage of the waterborne pollutants through the root zone of plants (garden bed located adjacent to the toilet facility). Organic pollutants are broken down to become a food source for the extraordinary variety of micro-organisms that dwell in the soil as well as for plants.

Reedbed Toilet

Energy Wise Trail

Educational signage has been developed and installed around the Randwick Community Centre so that visitors can learn about the energy efficient technologies featured on site.

The energy efficiency technologies you find on site include:

  • Energy supply systems — 2.4kW wind turbine, a 2.1kW photovoltaic solar panel array, a solar hot water system
  • Passive energy efficiency building design enhancements — awnings, louvre window ventilation for cooling, interior retrofitting to reduce electricity use and costs by making best use of natural light with skylights
  • Active energy efficiency building design enhancements — fans for heating and cooling, gas heating, energy efficient appliances.

Wind Turbine. Photo: Russ Grayson

Water Wise Trail

Using educational signage and interactive displays, the Water Wise Trail demonstrates smart water efficiency features at the Randwick Community Centre and in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden.

The water use efficiency technologies you find on site include:

  • A kitchen made with recycled and zero-toxicity materials fitted with an interpretive display and water efficient dishwasher
  • A range of rainwater tanks that feed rainwater to our toilets and irrigate the permaculture garden — this reduces reliance on town water
  • Water efficient irrigation features in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden
  • An Australian native plant, low water requirement garden in the Permaculture garden
  • Randwick Environment Park, which includes remnant Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub and an ephemeral wetland
  • A reedbed toilet that treats water and recycles it through garden beds
  • A filtered water drinking station where you can refill your water bottle with clean, filtered water instead of throwing it away empty.

Costa Georgiadis opens the Water Wise Trail 2010

Rainwater tank model. Photo: Russ Grayson

Permaculture Interpretive Garden

By applying design principled from the permaculture design system, an Australian invention, we have built a garden that is an integrated public park and education facility demonstrating a range of materials, plant types and design ideas that can be copied in your home or community garden. 

The colour of the flowers and different plants changes with the season, attracting people to the edible and other species that come and go.

Educational signage and interactive displays make sense of the garden for visitors.

In the Permaculture Interpretive Garden you will find:

  • A range of raised vegie beds made of different materials
  • The beginnings of our food forest
  • A rain garden that connected to the rainwater tank stormwater overflow
  • The compost and wormfarm demonstration area
  • Small-space garden displays for courtyards and balconies
  • Native garden including frog pond and lizard lounge
  • Our new balcony garden display area including wicking bed, insect motel, vertical gardens and aquaponic system.

Take a look at the Permaculture Interpretive Garden's rain garden

Balcony Garden Display Area

Native Stingless Bee and Honey Bee Trail

Honeybee and stingless native bees find a home at Randwick Community Centre...

You will find the apiary enclosure on the southern boundary of the Village Green at the Randwick Community Centre. The enclosure houses two honeybee and one stingless, native bee hive. One of the honeybee hives is the top bar type and the other a conventional box hive.

Native bees are kept mainly to assist with pollination as they do not produce much honey. There are numerous varieties, most of them stingless. Some are social while others are solitary.

Considering bees?

As an urban beekeeper you are supporting urban pollinators and increasing their population as insurance against colony collapse disorder that is devastating beehives in other countries.

Workshops on urban beekeeping at the Hub educate people about the importance of bees to the pollination of our crops and for the culinary and medicinal importance of the honey they produce.

Native Stingless Bee and Honey Bee Trail

Native Stingless Bee Box

Join our activities for adults and children

Randwick Sustainability Hub is fast becoming the centre for community education and special events in the Eastern Suburbs. Supplementing our special science education program for schools are a range of community education courses and events.

Courses and workshops

Our courses and workshops provide education in growing your own food and native plants, resource-efficient convivial living and community leadership, and there's a special course for teachers and parents and others working at early childhood centres.

We offer workshops in bike maintenance, small space and balcony gardening, decluttering your home and your life, an introduction to permaculture, pond ecology and keeping chooks in Randwick.

Bike maintenance workshop 2013. Photo: Russ Grayson

Eco Heroes Club

Eco Heroes Club logoEvery month, there's the Eco Heroes Club for 5-11 year olds, which is a club for hands-on eco-activities that are fun... whether that's making a video, planting vegetables in the garden, learning about the wildlife critters we share Randwick with, learning about worms and compost or making art from recycled materials. We meet mostly on the third Saturday of the month between 2:30 and 4:00pm (excluding school holidays).  

Volunteer opportunities

PermaBee garden volunteers

PermaBee Garden Volunteers - Randwick City Council

Come gardening with us on the third Saturday afternoon of the month for our Community Volunteer PermaBee in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden. Join permaculture horticulturalist and landscape designer, Emma Daniell while we plant out, weed, harvest, maintain the compost and propagate vegies — whatever needs doing on the day!

We meet from 2:30-5pm during daylight saving then from 2pm-4:30pm for the rest of the year, excluding December.

Organic gardening class 2014 

Randwick Environment Park Bushcare volunteers

Volunteering - Randwick City Council

Bushcare volunteers work with Council's Bushcare Officer on the bush regeneration program across the Randwick area, removing weeds, planting indigenous plants and installing soil erosion controls. 

Randwick Environment Park Bushcare volunteers meet from 9am-12noon on the first Wednesday and the third Satruday of each month. Find your way to the corner of Dooligah avenue and Burragulung Street, Randwick and walk diagonally across the recreation area towards the Randwick City Council Ute.

Randwick Environment Park 

Special events

Then there are the special events

There's lots happening at Randwick Sustainability Hub and you're invited.

Reduce your footprint website stories...

How to find the Hub

The Randwick Community Centre is at 27 Munda Street, Randwick.

We're looking forward to seeing you

Our team at the Randwick Sustainability Hub look forward to showing you our innovative sustainability centre with our take home ideas for energy and water savings in the home.

Photo essays

Something new comes — International Permaculture Day 2015 at the Randwick Sustainability Hub opening of The Classroom, Reedbed Toilet and the Balcony Garden Display area — story by Russ Grayson, May 2015

They cycle turns... — in Randwick Environment Park, the ephemeral wetland is again full... for a while anyway — story by Russ Grayson, 2015

Autumn in the garden — the coming of autumn brings change to the Permaculture Interpretive Garden — story by Russ Grayson, 2014


Photo credit

© Russ Grayson


Going Green Education Award winner for 2015

At the recent Keep Australia Beautiful Blue Star Sustainability Metro Awards Dinner 2015, Randwick City Council was the winner in the Going Green Education Award for the Randwick Sustainability Hub project.

KAB education award winner 2015

Other awards taken home by Randwick City Council that night...

  • Highly Commended — Environmental Achievement Award to sustainability unit manager, Peter Maganov
  • Highly Commended — Sustainable Systems Award for Getting the total picture on Randwick’s Energy Savings
  • Highly Commended — Overall Metropolitan Sustainability Award.

2015 Blue Star Highly Commended awards

Photos: Keep NSW Beautiful's Facebook page.

Read more: 3-Council Reduce Your Footprint website.

Back to top