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September 5, 2012

Australia Making the Grade in Green Building

Filed under: Buildings — Tags: , , — Tom Murphy @ 4:56 am

green building question mark

With a total of almost 500 Green-Star certified buildings around the country, the push toward environmentally sustainable practices in the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure is gathering momentum throughout Australia.

Compared to other developed countries – at least in terms of energy efficiency – Australia’s current performance now ranks around the middle of the road. In a recent study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Australia ranked sixth overall out of 12 of the world’s largest economies based on 27 energy efficiency metrics regarding buildings, industry and transportation and national policy.

The scorecard indicates that Australia is doing reasonably well when it comes to buildings but less well in other areas such as transport.

Even in terms of buildings, however, a number of commentators say we have room for improvement.

“I think we still have quite a bit to do within individual building design before we can honestly think that we are consistently ‘doing well at green buildings,’” says David Jarratt, director of WSP Built Ecology in Melbourne.

Referring to Australia’s ranking as per the ACEEE study, Jarratt says the country is indeed performing well in terms of energy efficiency but questions whether this alone is an adequate way to define an environmentally sustainable building.

Ann Gardner, a partner at iRubber P/L ESD rubber flooring in Melbourne, identifies products and choice of building materials as a significant issue and an area in which Australian builders can improve.

Gardner says that much as she tries to educate builders about the sustainable and longer-lasting features of her firm’s products, she has encountered a number of challenges in this area.

“We seem to have no problem getting our ‘green’ rubber flooring specified all over Australia, but at the moment we feel quite stuck at getting our ‘green’ rubber flooring actually ordered and installed,” she says.

Gardner says price and resistance to change are key stumbling points. With regard to price, she says there have been a number of cases where architects and designers have specified environmentally friendly products but builders have switched them at the last minute. She also says that despite strenuous efforts to talk to builders about new, environmentally friendly flooring products, ‘they usually go with what they know.’

Gardner also questions whether young builders coming through are being sufficiently educated about environmentally sustainable materials.

Nigel Howard, managing director at Edge Environment in Sydney, agrees with Gardner about materials. He points out that the building materials component is a much more significant factor in terms of energy efficiency as it pertains to overall environmental building performance in Australia than in much of the US, Europe and in Nordic countries where weather conditions are less benign.

Jarratt feels another issue is that, while there are many ‘good news stories’ around the marketplace regarding positive correlations between good indoor environment quality and buildng occupant productivity, he feels that in many cases, buildings that encourage these strategies are being pushed to the side, with mainstream alternatives that rely on decades-old technology often chosen instead.

2012 ACEEE International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Outside of buildings, the ACEEE data indicates that Australia has considerable room for improvement.

Dru Spork, building services and sustainability manager at Grocon in Sydney, says Australia is well behind in transport, though that may be largely because “crazy vehicle/fuel taxation systems across Europe leave the average worker no choice but to consider lower mileage and public alternatives.”

Spork describes Australia’s infrastructure performance as ‘so-so’, saying the country’s ranking in this area is made to look better than its performance may actually reflect because Europe suffers from the same underinvestment in research and transmission lines.

On the bright side, however, Spork believes environmental values are more natural and integrated in the Australian way of life than in Europe, or at least in the UK.

“We were always in front with home recycling, building waste recycling, scrap metal return to the smelters things like that,” he says.

Yes, Australia does have nearly 500 certified green buildings – now spreading to include areas as diverse as schools, fast food restaurants and soon, fire stations. But in terms of overall building and infrastructure environmental performance, it seems the country still has room for improvement.

February 7, 2011

1 Bligh Street achieves world leadership 6 Star Green Star

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tom Murphy @ 10:29 pm

1 Bligh Street achieves world leadership 6 Star Green Star and highest rating in Sydney

Co-owners of 1 Bligh Street DEXUS Property Group, DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund and Cbus Property today announced that the 1 Bligh Street office development in Sydney has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Office Design v2 Certified rating.

1 Bligh Street has also been awarded the highest Green Star rating score in Sydney/NSW, which includes the maximum allowable five points for innovation in categories such as environmental design initiative and exceeding Green Star benchmarks.

DEXUS CEO, Victor Hoog Antink said “Every aspect of 1 Bligh Street, from Australia’s first high rise double skin facade to the unique full building height naturally ventilated atrium, is designed to optimise sustainability and tenant amenity throughout the 28 level development. As co-owners, we are delighted that our vision to deliver the next generation of sustainable office buildings has been recognised through the achievement of a world leadership 6 Star Green Star rating.”

The double skin facade system is a major contributor to the 6 Star Green Star rating and allows the energy consumption of the building to be kept at a minimum, and facilitates the energy performance to be maintained at 5 Stars NABERS Energy levels with a 42% CO2 reduction when compared to a similar sized conventional office tower.

Other innovations which contributed to 1 Bligh Street’s leading score and sustainability credentials include:

  • the solar cooling system which feeds into the tri-generation system that reduces the strain on the CBD grid infrastructure by a further 25% and provides free cooling for the building
  • the specially formulated high strength concrete used and the column design which reduces the number of columns, and therefore minimises the amount of concrete used
  • the first use of a black water recycling in a high rise office building that will save 100,000 litres of drinking water a day, equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool every two weeks
  • state-of-the-art water efficient fittings, rainwater harvesting and fire system water reuse
  • all timber and plywood used in the structure is recycled or from FSC accredited sources
  • 90% of all steel used in the project comprises more than 50% recycled content

80% of all PVC type products have been replaced with non PVC materials
Grocon CEO, Daniel Grollo, who is also a founding member of the GBCA, said he was proud that all involved had shown world leadership on this project. “This is a fantastic project in the centre of Sydney and symbolises a new way forward in sustainability features,” he said.

“The use of unique high strength concrete with a lower cement content means there is 5,768 tonnes less of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and to date, we have recycled 37,000 tonnes or 94% of all construction waste produced on the project.”

Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating system undertaken by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings. The 6 Star Green Star Rating is the highest awarded by the GBCA.

“We congratulate the co-owners DEXUS Property Group, DWPF and Cbus Property for this world class achievement,” says the Chief Executive of the GBCA, Romilly Madew. “Achieving five innovation points (out of five) reflects that 1 Bligh Street is a truly ground-breaking green building. Following DEXUS’s 123 Albert Street in Brisbane receiving a 6 Star Green Star and DEXUS’s/Cbus Property’s pursuit for sustainability throughout their respective portfolios, 1 Bligh Street further confirms the co-owners’ commitment to sustainability and green building innovation.”

When 1 Bligh Street is completed in May 2011 the building will provide a new benchmark for sustainable office space. 1 Bligh will provide the highest levels of tenant amenity including spectacular views in all directions, in particular, the premium northern aspect over Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay.

The unique full height atrium and elliptical shaped floor plates enables 74% of the building to be within 8m of either the facade or the atrium, providing large amounts of natural light into the building and spectacular views in all directions. Occupying a premium corporate address in the heart of Australia’s financial capital, 1 Bligh will be a striking new addition to the Sydney skyline.
For further information contact:

DEXUS/DWPF/Cbus: Emma Parry 0421 000 329
Grocon: Jane Wilson 0407 831 456

Published at http://www.gbca.org.au/media-centre/industry-news/1-bligh-street-achieves-world-leadership-6-star-green-star/2878.htm 29/3/2010