Australia’s first ‘Living Building’ project has begun construction in Wollongong. The University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, at the university’s award-winning research and commercial precinct Innovation Campus, has been designed to meet a 6 Star Green Star Design rating and is on track to be the first Australian building to be certified by the Living Building Challenge.
The Living Building Challenge is the world’s most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment, comprising seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. As part of meeting the Living Building Challenge, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre will be an ultra-low energy building and feature natural ventilation and carefully-selected materials.
The 2,600 square metre building will produce more energy each year than it consumes via rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine. It will also feature a natural waste water system, integrated green IT building management system, and permaculture and native food gardens across the 8,000 square metre site.
Scheduled for completion in mid-2013, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre was designed by architects Cox Richardson, with Baulderstone as building contractor.
Construction of a sister building, the Transformational Technical Training facility, at TAFE NSW’s Illawarra Institute at Yallah has also commenced. This facility is targeting a 5 Star Green Star Design rating and Living Building Challenge certification. Illawarra building company Edwards Constructions has been appointed as contractor for the facility, helping to develop the sustainable building skills of local construction workers.
Together, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and the Transformational Technical Training facility will push the boundaries of sustainable design and lead the way in sustainable building technology and retrofitting research and training.
“It is exciting to see our vision for Australia’s most sustainable educational building become a reality. Not only will the building itself be a test bed for sustainable building technologies, we are partnering with the industry to develop and test new sustainable technologies and address the skills gap in technical training,” said Professor Paul Cooper, director of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre.
BlueScope Steel, Housing NSW and TAFE NSW are already on board, he added, extending an invitation for other industry partners “to join us to meet the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of Australian buildings”.
The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre offers university courses and professional development training for engineers and other professions in energy efficiency in the built environment, in electricity transmission, distribution and demand-side management, and changing user perceptions and behaviours.