It may be some time before a green-star building rating is mandatory for developers, but a number of businesses are getting ahead of the game and refurbishing their offices using green design principles.
Electricity retailer Synergy has tried to tick most of the energy efficiency boxes with its fit-out of the former RAC building, completed midway through last year.
The entire C-grade building, which consists of 5,487 square metres of space across a basement and three upper floors, was gutted for the refurbishment.
One of the main goals of the fitout was to create an open plan space, although there are a few offices located in the middle of the floor.
HASSELL interior design principal Caroline Diesner, who worked on the project, said this had the advantage of improving the layout and reducing energy use.
“There was still some functional requirement for people to have offices, so we rearranged the space to have some meeting and quiet rooms,” she said.
Ms Diesner said it was important to delineate public and private areas, despite the lack of partitions.
This was partly achieved by folding back the existing aluminium tiling in the ceiling above the kitchen, to create an origami effect, with a layer of insulation to improve acoustics.
“It created a breakout space, and there’s not a lot of sound transfer between the kitchen and the adjacent work spaces,” Ms Diesner said.
As part of the refit, energy efficient lighting was installed throughout the building, with an automatic dimmer to dull lights close to the windows.
Other lights are automatic, or motion sensitive in areas that are used less frequently, like meeting rooms.
All of the materials used for work stations are made from either recycled or recyclable materials, and furniture with a long warranty has been used.
In addition, a large tract of flooring made from recycled car tyres has been placed in the middle of the floor, where the movement of people is greatest.
“That creates an excellent acoustic quality through the central zone of the floor plate,” Ms Diesner said.
As part of the refit, the number of printers and photocopiers was reduced from 50 to 13, and the air-conditioning system was replaced and upgraded.
The building’s electricity supply is also provided by renewable sources.
Synergy is currently putting together an application for green star rating from the Green Building Council, which it expects to lodge later this month.