The founders of The Green Swing are Mark and Alana Dowley and Helmuth and Eugenie Stockmann. We have, as they say, put our money where our mouth is in the hope that our small scale projects will make a difference, provide inspiration and real change towards a more sustainable community.
How it all started
Late 2009 Helmuth and Eugenie returned from a sabatical. During their year off they cycled around Switzerland and France, volunteered at both an eco-farm in France, and Mornington, a property owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in the Kimberley, Western Australia. The time off provided the inspiration, energy and courage to sell their home in the Northern suburbs and move into a rental property in the hope to find other people that were interested in a sustainable townhouse style development. “We were keen to move closer to the city but did not like the current townhouse style developments. In our opinion they were dominated by double garages, driveways and small courtyards. Most of the homes have not been designed according to solar passive design increasing the need to heat and cool the homes reducing the operational affordability.”
Helmuth and Mark had met each other at woodworking courses. Helmuth contacted Mark upon their return to Oz and discussed their plans with him. Mark responded straight away “we would be interested”. As it turned out, Mark and Alana also were ‘inspired’ by the current style of townhouse style developments and were keen to try and make a difference also, to see whether these kind of developments could be more sustainable and with more community feel”. It was the start of a great partnership now called The Green Swing.
The first steps
Fortunately it did not take long before the sale on Helmuth and Eugenie’s property settled. The couples were now able to start looking for land. The financial commitment to purchasing a block of land together was a big first step towards realising the vision.
The journey to realise the first development was not easy. If the Victoria Park elected Councillors had not supported the development application, and decided to overturn the recommendation to reject the proposal, this story would have been very different. Also the approvals process for building license and water saving measures was not easy. But the rewards are there, through industry recognition, but more importantly in our day-to-day lives having the pleasure of living in beautiful sustainable homes, that are part of a caring community.
The journey continues
While it was hard work, we all really enjoyed the journey and were keen to use the knowledge and experience in other, future developments. When a block of land down the road came up for auction we knew that was the right opportunity. Under a more formalised structure and with additional investors we purchased the land. A big commitment, but fortunately no need to move into rental accommodation again… This second development provides the stepping stone for expanding the business and were are keen to experience what the future holds.
Helmuth is an IT architect and works at the WA Electricity provider Western Power. On his days off he can often be found in the garage working on his great hobby woodworking or out in the garden.
Eugenie has a diverse background in finance, project and office management. She completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainability from Murdoch University, focusing on Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning, and also has an Advanced Diploma in Accounting. She started her own business Green Fabric to help others with their co-operative, sustainable living ideas and projects. She also is a partner in Green Gurus™, which primarily focuses on sustainability education for the real estate and property industry.
Mark is an engineer in the oil and gas industry. He has also completed studies in the field of renewable energy systems at Murdoch University. These studies also included some sustainable urban design units. Mark is a talented wood worker, well read and a great athlete.
Alana is the Legal Services Director of Encore Legal. She has nearly 20 years’ experience and specialises in construction law. Alana oversees all legal services provided by Encore Legal. She conducts training courses for the industry in contract law and management topics and advises and represents clients in all legal jurisdictions.