City of Gosnells Civic Centre Redevelopment Project
The project at a glance:
- 5 Star Green Star rating representing Australian Excellence in sustainable design
- Sustainability 'premium' of just $750,000, or 3 per cent, on a $26 million project
- Predicted payback period of 5 years for the Green Star investment
- Water use reduced by 35 per cent
- Energy use reduced by 315,000kWh's each year, equivalent to taking 43 cars off the road
- Project area:4,500 square metres of office space with a further 500 square metres of civic space including council chamber, function rooms, meeting rooms and dining area.
Project team - City of Gosnells project team
- Council size: The City of Gosnells is the fifth largest municipality in metropolitan Perth, covering an area of 127 square kilometres with more than 105,000 residents.
The City of Gosnells has achieved a 5 Star Green Star rating for the retrofit of its Civic Centre. In doing so the City has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and shown that even buildings built during the 1970s can be given an environmental and economic overhaul.
Paul McAllister, Project Manager, City of Gosnells, explains: "Initially we thought the age of the building would make a sustainable retrofit unviable, however for an additional cost of 3 percent, a sustainable make over was the only responsible option."
The council expects a five year pay back period on the extra outlay of $750,000 demonstrating that building green is a smart financial decision. As McAllister points out: "We have a commitment to fiscal responsibility for our rate payers. That's why we decided to build green."
The sustainable transformation means the Civic Centre is now future-proofed to withstand tighter environmental legislation, the rising cost of utilities and the introduction of a price on carbon. Its energy and water saving features will reduce bills, while the improved indoor environmental quality is helping the City improve productivity as well as attract and retain staff who want to work in a healthy and sustainable workplace.
By achieving a 5 Star Green Star rating, the City of Gosnells has given the Civic Centre a new lease on life, is achieving positive triple bottom line results, and has constructed a sustainable legacy for future residents.
What the City of Gosnells achieved:
To achieve its 5 Star Green Star rating, the City of Gosnells was awarded a range of points under each of the nine Green Star categories, including:
During the retrofit of the Civic Centre, a comprehensive building users' guide was created to help the occupants understand how to interact with the building, and to help the building managers quickly identify and fix problems. This will ensure that the City of Gosnells' building maintains the highest possible level of performance.
The council has installed a thermal energy storage tank in the building which will store 'cool' energy in the form of ice. It is charged overnight to avoid peak energy tariffs, with the cool energy then released during the day, reducing the City's reliance on traditional air conditioning. This will save the City money by reducing energy demand at peak periods. Overall the building is expected to reduce energy usage by 315,878 kWh each year - equivalent to taking 43 cars off the road for a year.
The Civic Centre also uses solar energy to heat water for domestic use within the building, a measure alone which has reduced gas usage by 55 percent.
Indoor Environment Quality
The OECD's Environmentally Sustainable Buildings report argues that health problems from indoor air pollution are now one of the most acute problems related to building activities. CSIRO modelling based on US research into the effects of indoor environment quality on health and productivity has found that potential annual savings in Australia could be up to AUD$21 billion each year.
The City of Gosnells' was determined to provide a healthier, happier and more productive working environment for employees - and that meant reducing internal noise levels and maintaining a comfortable temperature for employees.
The Civic Centre also minimises staff exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are linked to Sick Building Syndrome, by specifying low-VOC paints and carpets. This will provide a healthier workplace and support the City of Gosnells' goal of becoming the local government employer of choice in Western Australia.
Water-efficient fittings and fixtures, as well as a rainwater tank used to flush toilets, have been installed to reduce water use. These measures will cut the City's water use by 35 per cent each year, saving 840KL of water, equivalent to the water in nearly 17 average size backyard swimming pools, from being flushed down the drain each year.
Stormwater is collected and filtered on site before it enters the Canning River. This will improve the health of the river by reducing runoff contamination and will help reduce the need for extra in-ground stormwater infrastructure in the future.
The Civic Centre was awarded an innovation point for its unique approach to collecting paper waste. Recycling stations are integrated throughout the floor plan making them easy to access and natural to use, which will increase recycling rates. As McAllister notes: "Having the highly visible yellow coloured recycling bins conveniently located next to workspaces has encouraged staff to recycle waste paper and packaging rather than depositing the waste in the traditional green bins."
The City of Gosnells' Civic Centre demonstrates that smart, sustainable design is not the preserve of large, expensive developments. The council's 5 Star Green Star rating is positive proof that low-technology design principles and a modest budget can produce a leading-edge green building.
The City of Gosnells Civic Centre was rated under the Green Star - Office Design v2 assessment tool.
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