Greening Melbourne, one building at a time
In the spirit of the U21 Statement on Sustainability, the University of Melbourne has always aimed to lead through example, be it in research, community engagement and sharing of knowledge. And with its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, the university has recognised that the development and use of buildings will play a major role. After all, the design and operation of facilities, and the space we use to teach, research and work, directly affects the ability to minimise the amount of natural resources we consume, the greenhouse gas we emit and the overall carbon footprint we leave behind. With this in mind, the university made a commitment to achieving certi" ed standards for all new buildings and upgrades, as accredited by the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star ratings.
The first building put forward for benchmarking was the Spot, the now iconic twelve-storey Faculty of Business and Economics building (pictured above). The decision to pursue the Green Star rating was to provide independently-verified evidence of the building’s environmental credentials and to help the project team adopt a holistic approach to the building’s design. The Spot received a 5 Star Green Star rating in 2009, recognising Australian Excellence in environmentally sustainable design. Following the success of the Spot, the university made a commitment to achieving a minimum rating target of 5 Star Green Star for all new buildings, and 4 Star Green Star for all major building upgrades.
Good news came once more in 2011 when the Melbourne Brain Centre also received 5 Star Green Star rating for its green attributes. Like the Spot, the Melbourne Brain Centre demonstrates environmentally sustainable design features in both the physical infrastructure as well as the type of learning and engagement encouraged by its innovative layout and design.
These ratings have enabled the university to demonstrate its true commitment to sustainability, an important step in reducing carbon emissions – something prospective students increasingly cite as relevant to their university choice. And as more students, staff and researchers experience learning, teaching and studying within these facilities, the university is able to continue to lead advancement in addressing the issue of sustainability.
For more information about the University of Melbourne’s sustainability achievements, visit the Sustainability Unit website (details below).
Melbourne Brain Centre: the facts
- The building is partially powered by a co-generation unit that uses natural gas to produce reduced-emission electricity and lowers CO2 emissions for the facility by 55 per cent
- 50,000 litres of water can be stored in a rainwater tank located in the basement
- Internal heat is minimised in the indoor environment to optimise occupant comfort while reducing energy use
- 101 secure bicycle spaces and changing facilities and proximity to public transport ensure sustainable transport options are readily available for staff, students and researchers
The Spot: the facts
- The façade is designed to minimise the intensity of the sun while maximising daylight penetration in order to improve the quality of the indoor environment for occupants
- A central stairwell is ventilated by fresh air from the lower floors – a highly efficient ventilation system that reduces the need for air conditioning
- Air is cooled by active and passive ‘chilled beam’ technology which reduces air-handling energy use by 80 per cent compared to a regular air-conditioning unit
- Blinds are controlled by light sensors to adapt the levels of sunlight allowed into the building to suit the weather