6 Star Education From Brookfield Multiplex

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-By Jaime McKee

In a recent press release, it was announced that the award-winning Ausgrid Learning Centre (ALC), designed by DEM Architects and constructed by Brookfield Multiplex, has received the first 6 Star Green Star “˜As Built’ Rating for an Educational facility from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). This marks the second 6 Star Rating for the project, which was also awarded a 6 Star Green Star Design Rating last year.

The GBCA rating is a benchmark in the industry, recognising outstanding achievement in ecologically mindful design and sustainable construction. 6 Stars is the highest possible rating, and highlights Brookfield Multiplex’s ongoing commitment to the utilisation of sustainable building practices.

The project was supported by the Education Infrastructure Fund, an initiative of the Australian Government which has developed infrastructure for higher education institutions, research institutions, and vocational education and training providers.

In further testimony to the Learning Centre’s green credentials, the project also took the prestigious Master Builders Association (MBA) Award for Energy Efficiency in October of this year.

Located at 48 Holker Street, Silverwater, NSW, the 17,200 square metre ALC spans three levels and consolidates electrical company Ausgrid’s services from four locations into one fully integrated learning facility. Author Max Pichon of Business Environment Network describes the overall built form as “consist[ing] of four interconnected pavilion style buildings arranged to create a series of significant internal and external courtyard spaces for both training and recreational uses.” Certainly, the building is not only green, but visually stunning as well.

The construction saw the use of a number of innovative green technologies. Author Emily D’Alterio of DesignBuild describes the structure as green from “even deeper” than the ground up, and she is referring to the installation of 55 geothermal bores to aid in passively cooling the building. A hollow core slab thermal mass system provides further passive cooling, and additional sustainable features of the structure include gas-driven tri-generation power, a combination of mechanical cooling and heating systems, natural and mechanical ventilation, a 51 kilowatt (260-cell) solar panel installation, ten electric vehicle charging stations, and heat absorption chiller units to capture waste heat from the tri-gen plant to cool water for air conditioning.

Water efficiency was also a priority of the design. Water-efficient fixtures and fittings throughout the Learning Centre reduce demand, and consumption is monitored and displayed to raise internal awareness. On the grounds, channels filled with native plants help to control runoff and filter pollutants from stormwater on its path to nearby waterways. And rainwater is collected in an underground cistern which holds 147,000 litres – the equivalent of around 25,000 toilet flushes. Once captured, the rainwater is used in conjunction with processed greywater for the Centre’s toilet flushing and irrigation.

Naturally, energy efficiency is also built into the structure, and the tri-generation plant alone provides enough electricity to power the equivalent of 50 homes for one year. As a result, Ausgrid expects to see a reduction in its operating costs to the tune of around $60,000 per annum.

To Ausgrid, it was important that the construction process itself be as environmentally conscious as possible, and on this front, Brookfield Multiplex was able to offer a number of innovative ecological solutions. Over 95 per cent of the demolition and construction waste generated on the work site was recycled or reused, while re-purposed bricks, timber and steel, and workstations and equipment were incorporated from other Ausgrid premises. Paints, adhesives, sealants, flooring, wood products and other furnishings and fixtures low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were used throughout; not only was this an ecologically sensitive choice for the construction, but as the building ages these products will release far fewer toxic emissions and make for a healthier work environment. Also, “calculated by costs,” reads Ausgrid’s own project brochure, “about two-thirds of the building’s polyvinyl chloride pipes (PVC) have been substituted with other materials. These materials are easier to recycle than PVC and emit fewer dioxins.” 3-point Green Star concrete – containing 20 per cent recycled content – was the structure’s final green touch.

Remarkably, the Ausgrid Learning Centre development was delivered two months ahead of schedule. Says Mr David Ghannoum, NSW/Queensland Regional Managing Director of Brookfield Multiplex, in the company’s press release, the project is a “great demonstration of our ability to go beyond expectations. Through close collaboration with the client we were able to work as a team to optimise value financially and environmentally. The 6 Star Green Star Rating and MBA award affirm our achievements in meeting sustainable objectives.”

Ausgrid is equally excited about the development. Its brochure boasts, “From the outset, our aim was to develop a centre of excellence for training and research and to create a landmark green building,” and the end result is truly an shining example of best practice in leading-edge sustainable design.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 17, 2019, 5:09 AM AEDT