Image Credit: Low Carbon Australia
In a carbon constrained economy, councillor Arron Wood said the certification by Low Carbon Australia against the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) “was a solid demonstration of the City of Melbourne’s commitment to a more sustainable Melbourne.”
The city’s commitment is evident through environmental initiatives including Green Star where 22 per cent of Victoria’s buildings are Green Star rated and the city’s collective vision is to not only deliver sustainable buildings, but sustainable cities and communities.
“We’re already one of the world’s most liveable cities, our challenge now is to ensure we are one of the world’s most sustainable cities,” Wood said. “As part of our work we’re delivering new waste management solutions, upgrading several of our council buildings by installing efficient heating, cooling and water systems and making improvements to Melbourne Town Hall which will result in significant savings in lighting costs.”
“We built Australia’s first six-star green star new office design building – CH2 – which is now leading the way in environmentally sustainable design. But our commitment to sustainability doesn’t end there.”
The Melbourne City Council House 2 (CH2) building and Grocon’s Pixel building are two carbon neutral projects that have contributed considerably to Melbourne’s sustainable strategy and drawn a global following for their green design initiatives.
Through advanced energy and water-saving design, the CH2 building completed in 2006 reduced its energy consumption up to 80 per cent while also providing a healthy indoor living environment for the building.
The building materials used were mostly natural, low VOC or recycled. Ventilation stacks installed on the building’s exterior are used to channel air and offer shading for windows while the west side of the building features recycled timber louvers. The louvers are controlled by photovoltaic cells and tilt to protect from the afternoon sun.
Inside, natural light was maximized with large glass windows while artificial lights were set at 150 LUX compared to the general 350 LUX setting in conventional buildings. The windows are opened for four hours at a time to draw cool air in and cool down the concrete building saving 20 per cent of the building energy.
In terms of living architecture, CH2 has one plant per occupant in the building to clean and refine the air quality and a green roof. The building cost $52 million with $11 million allocated for environmental and indoor air features.
Grocon’s four-storey Pixel Building was completed in 2010 and was Australia’s first carbon neutral office building. The design is instantly recognisable due to its colourful façade of panels that move to maximize daylight and manage glare, heat and shade.
Pixel also captures and reuses all rainwater through its reed bed system and green roof. As with CH2, windows automatically open on cool nights to encourage air flow to cool the concrete building.
The Pixel Building received the highest ever Green Star rating in Australia of 100 plus five points for innovation securing it as carbon neutral.
These two buildings act as leaders for other developers as the City of Melbourne continues to support building owners to upgrade their buildings through its 1,200 Buildings program. The ambitious project aims to retrofit two-thirds of Melbourne’s CBD buildings, which will contribute to Melbourne’s aspirational target of achieving Zero Net Emissions by 2020.
“We are helping commercial building owners upgrade their buildings with energy efficient technologies through our 1200 Buildings program and unlocking funds through Environmental Upgrade Agreements,” explains Wood.
Currently 53 per cent of Melbourne’s Greenhouse gases come from the commercial sector. This initiative will reduce CO2 emissions by 383,000 tonnes each year.
“In our efforts to be smarter about the way we capture and use water, we have undertaken extensive work to install stormwater tanks for our parks and improve irrigation,” Wood says.
Melbourne is further encouraging its residents to be inspired by the built environment and work toward personally adopting a lower-carbon lifestyle. Many buildings in the CBD are offering increased bike storage space as Melbourne extends its bike network, and residents are encouraged to walk and use public transport.
“Global leading cities like City of Melbourne are responsible for an extraordinary range of economic activities and services and are critical to our move to a low carbon future,” Low Carbon Australia CEO Meg McDonald said.
“Quantifying the carbon footprint of such an organisation and reducing carbon emissions is a mammoth task, but one that can have substantial benefits for the environment, the city and for ratepayers.”
McDonald notes that it is important for city councils to take on a leadership role in reducing carbon and lauds Melbourne for its efforts.
“In efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the City of Melbourne is also working to ensure it operates more efficiently, reducing wastage and encouraging more sustainable business practices,” she says.