While Victoria has the highest number of certified Green Star buildings in the country, the spread of the green buildings over regional and metropolitan areas is not equal.
In fact, regional Victoria has little in the way of a strong Green Star building consortium – something the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is looking to change.
The Green Star-rated Surf Coast Shire Civic Building, which has been awarded a 5 Star Green Star – Office Design v3 rating by the GBCA, marks the first major step in that process.
The building is a testament to location-specific green building design, with the building’s position at the entrance to Torquay, one of Victoria’s most iconic surf communities. The area’s strong environmental conscience is strongly reflected in various design elements.
“Council has always been determined that this community’s civic building should be a regional flagship in environmentally-sustainable design that reflects our community’s efforts to protect our local environment and live more sustainably,” says town mayor Dean Webster.
The building’s coastal location acted as the catalyst for the choice to deliver and run the project sustainably, with the Mayor noting that this choice is as much about energy efficiency as it is environmental protection and a response to changing environmental conditions.
“Science shows us the Surf Coast will be affected by climate change in many ways,” says Webster. “We need to prepare for more extreme weather conditions, higher utility costs, and Council needs to ensure the resources we allocate to mitigating these risks are well-directed.”
For these reasons, a mix of energy efficiency technologies and Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD) principles have been implemented in order to provide a building to suits the needs of the area’s specific environment and community.
In terms of the building’s energy efficiency, the Council has set a 30 per cent reduction target, which it aims to meet by 2020, and has used this as a basis for the choice of technology implementation.
In order to achieve this target, the building has been built to include high performance insulation and double-glazing in addition to an improved, airtight design. These elements alone reduce the building’s reliance on electrical heating and cooling, with on-grid energy substituted by the energy generation provided by photovoltaics and wind turbines.
Low VOC materials have been used throughout the interiors in order to keep inside spaces non-toxic, with a large ventilated atrium and a barrage of natural interior plants further enhancing the interior air quality.
The Surf Coast Shire Civic Building stands as the first of many regional buildings that will continue to develop outside of metropolitan Victoria. In choosing materials and green technologies that suit both the environment and the ideals of the community, the building has been created to suit its location and its inhabitants – a development style that is sure to bring with it success.