26/08/2010 - 00:00

Green building push gains momentum

26/08/2010 - 00:00

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LOCAL firms are becoming more conscious of the benefits associated with green building design, and sustainable building principles are gaining momentum in the marketplace, according to the proponents of what will become one of Australia’s top environmenta

Green building push gains momentum

LOCAL firms are becoming more conscious of the benefits associated with green building design, and sustainable building principles are gaining momentum in the marketplace, according to the proponents of what will become one of Australia’s top environmentally-rated education facilities.

The Australian Institute of Management’s new $10 million learning and development centre, currently under construction on Underwood Avenue in Floreat, will be the first educational building in Western Australia to be certified under the Green Building Council of Australia’s 6-star green-star sustainability certification system.

Under the GBCA rating system, a 6-star building utilises world’s best practice in lighting and energy efficiency, includes the use of photovoltaic cells for power generation, and focuses particularly on water recycling.

The 1,400 square metre Floreat learning and development facility has been designed by Perth architects Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland, and is being constructed by Balcatta-based PS Structures.

Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland is also responsible for the design of WA’s first 6-star green-star rated public building, The Grove library and community facility in Peppermint Grove.

Cox Holett & Bailey Woodland director Fred Chaney said the Peppermint Grove library was a good example of the sustainable design push building momentum in WA.

“When the councils went out for public consultation for the library, one of the strongest messages that they got back from the local community was that they wanted it to be a green building,” Mr Chaney told WA Business News.

“That was an interesting case of the broader community almost demanding of its council the best outcome possible.”

The Green Building Council of Australia has reported there are currently 14 green-star projects registered in WA, while there are an additional 36 projects awaiting certification.

“It’s generally accepted certainly in the A-grade/premium commercial markets you have to have particular benchmarks,” Mr Chaney said.

“But what’s also happening is that the building code is becoming increasingly stringent on minimum performance.”

He said sustainable design principles utilised at the Floreat learnig facility included energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling, including photovoltaic solar power generation equipment, and a particular focus on water recycling and sustainable landscaping.

The 10 to 15 per cent extra cost involved with implementing sustainable design principles was deemed negligible, considering the longer-term benefits a green building can bring.

“Ultimately, good environmentally sustainable design outcomes lead to lower recurrent costs, and in terms of long-term ownership of the sorts of buildings, that’s going to be attractive,” Mr Chaney said.

“Better daylight, fresher air, and better quality air, actually does lead to a better quality working environment and less sick days.

“In percentage terms they are relatively small percentages, but in a larger organisation they start to make a difference.”

The Australian Institute of Management’s WA executive director, Patrick Cullen, said the new learning and development facility in Floreat would not just help the institute fulfil its role in developing leadership skills in WA, the building could also demonstrate what could be achieved in terms of sustainable design.

“The building gives us the opportunity to leverage the building development in terms of a sustainability focus to use that to engage with, and provoke and prod and work with clients externally, who are intrigued by, interested in and engaged by what we’re doing with the whole sustainability agenda,” Mr Cullen said.

“There is an interest in the building, I think it’s a growing interest and I see that growing interest continuing.

“Given who we are and given our footprint in the WA marketplace and the opportunity we have to work with and engage with senior executives across many industries, there is a lot of interest in what we are doing, and there is a particular interest in the fact that we’re focusing on a sustainable building and what that may mean.”

Mr Cullen said he expected the green building push to gather further momentum as projects like the learning and development centre demonstrated tangible benefits, both for building owners and tenants.

“Our view is that our building, in a period of time, assuming we achieve the most sustainable building we can achieve, that sort of building will become the norm,” he said.

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