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Australian Institute of Management, Katitjin Centre

AIM
The project at a glance:

  • 6 Star Green Star - Education Design v1 rating representing 'World Leadership' in sustainable design
  • $12 million project, 10-15% sustainability premium
  • Energy neutral, producing as much energy as is consumed in operation
  • More than 80% of construction waste reused or recycled
  • World-leading indoor environmental quality for enhanced learning.

The Australian Institute of Management's (AIM) new building, the Katitjin Centre in Western Australia, is a high-performance, environmentally-friendly educational facility representing AIM's investment in a sustainable future.

The Centre is emissions-neutral, meaning it produces as much energy in operation as it consumes. It also features a number of water-efficient features, such as a 42KL rainwater tank for toilet flushing and a 'xeriscape' garden - a method of landscape design that minimises water usage. Coupled with an emphasis on excellent indoor environment quality, the Katitjin Centre is not only better for the environment, but will improve student health and learning outcomes.

The design team recognised that thinking green from the outset would allow significant sustainability initiatives to be realised for minimal cost. The appropriateness of this approach was confirmed early on, as Executive Director Patrick Cullen explains. "During the tender stage, we put out options for both a 5 Star and a 6 Star rating. There was relatively little financial difference between the two, reinforcing our desire to target the higher 6 Star Green Star rating."

According to Fred Chaney, Project Director at Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland: "The Katitjin Centre was always going to be a sustainable building. What we needed was a credible benchmark to substantiate the outcomes and ensure a higher level of rigour in the design and delivery process. In Australia, Green Star is that benchmark."

So, was the effort to achieve the Green Star rating worth it?

"Definitely," is the enthusiastic answer from NDY's Director, Darrel Williams. "The process of achieving the 6 Star Green Star rating, while challenging, has been a positive experience. The Green Star process has added quantifiable value to the project by providing the project team with a means to formally audit and benchmark the building's sustainable credentials."

To achieve a Green Star 'Design' rating requires a commitment to innovation and a holistic approach to green building design. AIM is now seeking a 6 Star 'As-Built' rating for the project, which will confirm that the sustainable design intentions were implemented during the construction process.

"As a premier learning institution, AIM prides itself on achieving measurable outcomes," says Patrick Cullen, AIM's Executive Director. "Our decision to seek a 6 Star As Built rating, in addition to the 6 Star Design rating, demonstrates that ethos, as we'll have a building which is not only designed to world leadership sustainability benchmarks, but also constructed to that level."

To achieve its 6 Star Green Star rating, the Australian Institute of Management was awarded a range of points under each of the nine Green Star categories.

Energy

The Katitjin Centre is designed to have exceptional energy performance, producing as much energy as it uses, with passive design the critical factor in achieving emissions neutrality.

Smart site orientation allows the Katitjin Centre to benefit from high levels of daylight penetration while also reducing the building's thermal loads. This means the air-conditioning and ventilation system doesn't need to work as hard, and the lighting system is only used sparingly, which reduces demand in two traditional areas of high energy use. This orientation, coupled with highly efficient systems, allows the Centre's remaining energy requirements to be met by the installed solar array. "The energy performance is above and beyond what we expected," NDY's Darrel Williams explains. "It demonstrates how far good design can push building performance."

Better yet, it effectively eliminates the Centre's power bills. As Patrick Cullen elaborates: "AIM will derive a major financial benefit from this investment. Our running costs will be reduced and we'll have protection against future increases in energy prices. Plus, by achieving zero net emissions, we are doing our bit to help combat climate change."

Indoor Environment Quality

The direct link between indoor environment quality (IEQ) and better educational outcomes made this a key driver for the project. Features include a ventilation system which delivers high levels of fresh air, improving both air flow and quality; paints and carpets with low or no volatile organic compounds, providing healthier classrooms; and an environmental design which improves natural light levels and enhances learning outcomes.

Aside from the improved health and learning outcomes, AIM wanted its green building to capture the hearts and minds of state and national decision makers who pass through its doors. The Katitjin Centre will allow them to see, touch, feel and operate in a world-leading 6 Star Green Star building. As Patrick Cullen notes, the facility will "provide a tangible experience that will equip our clients with the knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence that green buildings are possible, practical and can deliver real benefits to users."

Water

Perth's infrequent summer rains, sandy soil that prevents landscaped grounds from retaining water, and lack of water-saving culture means it currently has the highest water consumption in Australia. A 2011 report by the National Water Commission found Perth households use an average of 276KL of water a year - double that of Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Katitjin Centre is making a solid contribution to WA's water-wise future. Efficient fixtures and fittings have reduced the Centre's water consumption and the water harvesting system is designed to meet 100 per cent of average monthly demand for the toilets and urinals.

Management

The Katitjin Centre achieved all the Management category credits, despite unique challenges due to the project's location. The Waste Management credit was a particular hurdle. According to Darrel Williams, "there was a real lack of local infrastructure and experience in this area. AIM was supportive, though, so we worked closely to develop a joint strategy with the contractor. By practical completion, the contractor reported more than 80 per cent of demolition and construction waste was re-used or recycled - an exceptional result in WA."

The last word goes to AIM's Executive Director, Patrick Cullen, who praises the Green Star process for providing "an additional level of rigour in the design and delivery of the Katitjin Centre. Most importantly it has provided a common metric and language for the project team to apply during the design and construction, as well as external validation and auditing of the building's sustainability credentials."