Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development

When the planning and design of the Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development began in April 2006, there was no rating tool available in the market to guide the University’s aim for a ‘world’s best practice’ sustainable building. 

What followed was a series of intensive workshops with the architects and engineers working towards a vision of what was wanted out of the building and the best possible location for the building on campus.  Unlike most other property planning schools that have evolved around the country, the Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development began with a blank canvas. 

The design team investigated case studies of sustainable university buildings around the world and established benchmarks and metrics from a range of sources including the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Start suite of rating tools. 

From the early stages Bond University embraced sustainable development with a triple bottomline focus: a main platform of ecological sustainability combined with social and economic sustainability.  The social and educational element of sustainability was critical given the nature of the building and became a key focus of the design process. 

When the Green Star - Education PILOT tool was released in May 2007, Bond University realised that this was an opportunity to be assessed and recognised by the industry.  Throughout the implementation of the Green Star – Education PILOT tool there was a desire to retain those features previously identified but not recognised by the Green Star tool.

A number of these features were considered significantly innovative. Furthermore, where the benchmarks within credits were not achievable, these initiatives have generally still been addressed to ensure the building represents world’s best practice. 

Partnering with Mirvac and with Arup providing sustainability consultancy, the Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development is the first educational building in Australia to achieve a 6 Star Green Star – Education Design PILOT certified rating for its sustainable features and cutting edge design. 

The school will provide the location for Australia’s first tertiary program to formally recognise long-term sustainability as a fundamental issue in a range of new undergraduate and postgraduate urban planning, design, development and strategic asset management degrees. 

The building’s optimum orientation maximises solar gain and the capture of prevailing breezes.  The building design minimises energy consumption through an innovative design that maximises use of natural light and mixed ventilation. The design also extensively uses recycled materials, including recycled timber, low-emission paints and carpets made from recycled fibres. A comprehensive water recycling design means that the entire water requirement for landscape irrigation is sourced from rainwater and recycled greywater. 

As identified above, the educational elements of the building were a key project consideration. Throughout the design, construction and operation, the Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development has provided significant learning opportunities for the students, the Bond University community, and the wider public.

The two key features incorporated for learning are a separate ‘Living Laboratory’ building, and a permanent, accessible self-guided building tour.  The ‘Living Laboratory’ is a separate building located adjacent main building. It is a permanent education centre, with a digital building management system linking into the numerous energy and water meters and displaying live and historical data on a range of environmental factors such as water and energy consumption and energy generation. This provides students, staff and community members with a unique educational experience.  The data is also available for staff and students undertaking more detailed research projects, such as post-graduate research into the operational performance of green buildings. 

The second key learning element incorporated in the design is the self-guided building tour. This tour takes students, staff or members of the public around the building to 13 different stations. Each station describes an environmental initiative or feature included in the design. For example there are features regarding the buildings passive design and orientation, building services, cyclist facilities, living laboratory, water treatment system and energy generation. These stations are all accessible at ground level without any security access and therefore provide an open resource for the community. 

The Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development truly embodies the concept of ‘sustainable development’. A hands-on, dedicated approach highlights the ingenuity and a commitment from Bond University and the project team to achieving the best possible sustainable outcomes. From the inclusion of university maintenance staff on the design team to review innovative options, to the ongoing building training and student lectures on the building being undertaken by Arup, Bond University has truly set a new benchmark.

This 6 Star Green Star certified building is educating the next generation of green leaders. It has provided a non-competitive, educational sector example of what can be achieved through vision, determination and commitment to sustainable development. Not only this, but Bond University hopes others will learn from the building to improve the next generation of green buildings 

Key sustainable features of the building include:

  • Mixed-mode ventilation system using the outside air when conditions are suitable
  • 82% reduction in carbon emissions compared to a benchmark building
  • Wastewater treatment system and rainwater capture and reuse to reduce use of potable water
  • Optimum orientation to maximise natural daylight and capture prevailing breezes
  • Exotic trees mulched and native landscaping providing net increase in biological diversity energy efficient lighting, including task lighting
  • Refrigerants with zero ozone depleting potential and minimal global warming impact
  • 90% of construction waste by weight was reused or recycled
  • 30% of cement was replaced with fly-ash in all concrete to reduce embodied energy solar photovoltaic panels, a wind turbine and a biodiesel generator to generate renewable and low-emission electricity
  • Living laboratory education centre, digital building management system, display material and educational signage and fittings
  • Low volatile organic compound paints, carpets and furniture to improve the indoor environment
  • Office spaces have been designed to standard sizes to minimise waste and over 95% of loose furniture is recycled
  • Good cyclist facilities for staff and students.


  • Green Star Accredited Professionals, provided sustainability advice throughout the design and delivery period
  • Comprehensive pre-commissioning, commissioning, and quality monitoring
  • The design team and the contractor provided information and documentation to the building owner regarding design intent, as installed details, commissioning reporting and training of building management staff
  • The building will undergo a twelve month commissioning / building tuning period
  • An independent commissioning agent used
  • Building Users’ Guide provided
  • Site specific Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the works
  • 90% of construction waste by weight was reused or recycled
  • The building’s environmental attributes are displayed in a manner that can be readily understood by building users
  • A facilities management representative was included on the design team.

Indoor Environment Quality

  • The building was designed for 60% of the UFA to have a 2.5% daylight factor
  • Glare was reduced across the UFA by using shading devices
  • High frequency ballasts were installed in fluorescent luminaries over a minimum of 95% of the UFA
  • The facility lighting design provides a maintenance illuminance of no more than 25% above those recommended in AS1680.2.3 for 95% of the UFA
  • All of the UFA has a direct line of sight to the external environment
  • Thermal comfort levels for the as-built design of the UFA have been assessed and used to evaluate appropriate servicing options
  • A Predicted Mean Vote (PMV) level of between -1 and +1, calculated in accordance with ISO7730 (or equivalent using Draft ASHRAE Comfort Standard 55 and “Developing an Adaptive Model of Thermal Comfort and Preference - Final Report on ASHRAE RP884”) has be achieved during Standard Hours of Occupancy and using standard clothing, metabolic rate and air velocity values for 98% of the year
  • Every enclosed office is provided with individual control of its air supply rates and air temperature
  • Every enclosed office has openable windows
  • The building services noise level meets the recommended design sound levels provided in Table 1 of AS/NZS 2107:2000
  • 95% of all paint, adhesives, sealants, carpets and other floor finishes, are low-VOC emitting
  • 95% of all tables, chairs, and desks are recycled
  • No composite wood products were used in the project


  • The design reduces the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the base building compared to a conventional benchmark building as follows
  • Bond University School of Sustainable Development will produce 19,800 kg CO2/yr, compared to a benchmark of 113,252 kg CO2/yr which is an 82% reduction
  • Sub-meters are provided to monitor both lighting and general power consumption
  • The sub-meters are connected to the BMS and continually demonstrate actual performance against energy benchmarks
  • Energy demand reduction systems are installed to reduce peak demand on electricity infrastructure by 40%
  • This has been achieved by on-site generation
  • Highly visible internal stairs with good day lighting are provided as an alternative to using the lift
  • Services to each space automatically shut down when not in use
  • All spaces have individual light switches
  • Switching is clearly labelled and easily accessible by building occupants
  • An automated lighting control, including occupant detection and daylight adjustment, is provided.


  • The number of car parking spaces provided on the site was significantly reduced
  • All parking spaces are designed and labelled for small cars
  • The parking space is dedicated solely for use by carpool participants, hybrid or other alternative fuel vehicles
  • Secure, undercover storage is provided for 10 student bicycles
  • Lockable, undercover storage is provided for 5 staff bicycles
  • Showers, changing facilities and lockers are provided for cyclists
  • A dedicated, well lit and signposted pedestrian route, linking the site to public transport nodes and other nearby amenities is provided


  • The potable water consumption in the building has been reduced by using water efficient fixtures / fittings, and by using rainwater and recycled water
  • Water meters have been installed for all major water uses. Meters are linked to the Building Management System to provide a leak detection system
  • All of the water requirement for landscape irrigation is sourced from rainwater and recycled water collected on site
  • No water-based heat rejection system is used
  • Temporary storage has been provided for fire protection system test water and maintenance drain-downs for reuse on-site


  • A dedicated storage yard is provided for the separation, collection and recycling of office consumables
  • The concrete used in the building construction has 30% of cement replaced with an industrial waste product
  • The total PVC content cost for major services elements was reduced by more than 60% (by cost) by replacing PVC with alternative materials
  • All timber products used in the building and construction works were sourced from either post-consumer reused timber or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber
  • The flooring used in the project has a reduced environmental impact
  • 95% of the joinery (by area) used in the project is new and has been designed to be modular and easily disassembled for future reuse
  • Loose furniture used in the project has a reduced environmental impact by being recycled from other parts of the University
  • In excess of 50% (by area) of the structural framing, roofing, and façade cladding systems are designed for disassembly

Land Use & Ecology

  • The development site is neither prime agricultural land nor land on or within 100m of a wetland
  • The ecological value of a development site was enhanced beyond its previously existing state primarily through the inclusion of an artificial wetland
  • Cut and fill were balanced on the campus and there was no exportation of topsoil from the immediate site


  • 95% of all HVAC refrigerants in use have an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero and the specified thermal insulation does not use ozone depleting substances in both manufacture and composition
  • All stormwater leaving the site, at any time up to a 1-in-20 year storm event, is treated / filtered
  • The development does not increase peak stormwater flows for rainfall events of up to a 1-in-2 year storm
  • The outflows to the sewerage system due to building occupants’ usage have been reduced through the use of an on site grey water treatment system. The annual flow to sewer from this building has been reduced by 52%
  • No light beam is directed beyond the site boundaries or upwards without falling directly on a surface with the explicit purpose of illuminating that surface
  • There are no evaporative heat rejection systems in the project


  • It is demonstrated that the building exceeds, by a measurable margin, the existing Green Star Education credit category criteria for Man-8 Learning Resource. The Green Star Man-8 criteria requires the inclusion of 3 education initiatives, this building has included 36 initiatives the focal point of which is the dedicated “Living Laboratory” building. This is a significant increase in environmental education opportunities
  • It is demonstrated that the building exceeds, by a measurable margin, the Green Star benchmark for PVC minimisation in Mat-6. The benchmarks in Mat-6 are 30% and 60% reduction in PVC by cost for 1 and 2 points respectively. This building has achieved a 96.7% reduction in PVC by cost
  • An innovation point was also awarded for the inclusion of an alternative lift technology which is not rewarded in the tool. This regenerative drive lift generates electricity on descent which is separately metered to provide detailed information on the actual benefit of such technology