The Corso North Lakes
THE PROJECT AT A GLANCE
- Australia’s first government project to achieve a Green Star – Public Building rating
- 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar sized buildings built to code
- 41% reduction in potable water demand
Even before the foundations were poured, Moreton Bay Regional Council’s state-of-the-art library, community centre and office complex could lay claim to being one of Australia’s most sustainable public building complexes.
In October 2012, The Corso at North Lakes, a $45 million development funded by Moreton Bay Regional Council and the Australian Government, became the first local government public building project to achieve a 5 Star Green Star – Public Building PILOT Design rating.
The Green Star – Public Building rating tool has opened the door to Green Star certification for Australia’s public buildings for the first time, and Moreton Bay Regional Council now has independent verification of its sustainable asset.
Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland is thrilled with the recognition. “Not only will The Corso at North Lakes utilise 160 solar panels to offset mains electricity demand, make maximum use of natural light and harvest its own storm water, the site will have easy access to sustainable public transport including the Moreton Bay Rail Link, due for completion in late 2016,” Mayor Sutherland says.
“It all adds up to lower running costs and a sustainable, prosperous future for one of Australia’s fastest growing communities,” the Mayor adds.
Public buildings are generally large consumers of energy. Traditionally, commercial buildings have offset operational costs with the funds generated from activity such as rents. Although The Corso at North Lakes will include a commercial office component, it is designed and built to deliver significant savings in energy and water running costs for council.
“We’re Australia’s third largest council with a large portfolio of public infrastructure including libraries, work depots and halls, so it was important to pay particular attention to the design of The Corso at North Lakes to achieve lower energy usage,” says Mayor Sutherland. “Reducing our energy consumption means lower operational costs for our ratepayers during the operational life of the building, and a cleaner environment for one of Australia’s fastest growing urban areas.”
Clever design and technology will slash The Corso’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 per cent when compared to a standard building of similar size. Energy efficiency features include a highly efficient zoned air-conditioned system with active chilled beams across the upper level offices and library back-of-house, and a mixed mode Variable Air Volume (VAV) system in the library area. High-performance low-e laminated glazing on all windows, together with energy-efficient T5 and LED lights with daylight and motion sensors, contributes to lower energy bills.
A learning resource
The robustness of the Green Star rating system makes it simpler for local governments to report on environmental improvements and demonstrate the ongoing accountability and cost-efficiencies of public building projects. In addition, the savings that Green Star certified projects generate over their operational lifespan can help local governments to lower costs.
The Corso acts as a learning resource for the entire community. A sophisticated building management system (BMS) will collect, collate and display details of the energy and water consumption on a floor-by-floor basis. Visitors to the building will be able to engage with interactive, real-time information on energy and water and make daily, weekly, monthly and annual comparisons.
Analysis of consumption per person or per square metre will be just a few clicks away, as will comparisons between total energy consumption and total energy generated. Information on outdoor ventilation rates will also be displayed, and will include how the ventilation system works and its occupant health benefits.
“By providing real-time energy and water data, we’re hoping that visitors to The Corso at North Lakes might also become more conscious of resource consumption in their own homes. I think it will help our community to become more informed about maintaining a sustainable future in our rapidly growing region,” The Mayor explains.
Leading by example
Moreton Bay Regional Council is the third largest council in Australia with a strong growth outlook. The Corso will not only deliver long-term sustainable outcomes for the council and users of the building, it will also demonstrate the council’s ‘leadership by example’ to the development industry and wider community.
“As a local government, we recognise that we have a responsibility to lead the way in sustainability, innovation and best practice. For this reason, Green Star was considered from the project’s inception. We embraced the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability – and the success of the project has inspired council to engage in the process again, this time seeking an As Built rating for the same project,” Mayor Sutherland says.
Achieving a Green Star rating yielded a number of unexpected benefits. “The Green Star process helped all team members to commit to achieving the same sustainable outcomes. It also resulted in team members encouraging each other to push the boundaries and find more effective and efficient ways of delivering key elements of the project,” explains Ecolateral’s Director John Moynihan, who was the Green Star Accredited Professional on the project.
Cost-effective water efficiency measures at The Corso will reduce potable water demand by 41 per cent, when compared with a standard building of a similar size. Water reduction measures will include an electronic water meter and monitoring system with leak detection, and tapware and plumbing fixtures with high WELS ratings. Rainwater, air-conditioning condensate water and fire system test water will be harvested for restroom flushing, as well as for landscape irrigation.
The Corso’s water conservation efforts will yield a number of significant payoffs, from cost savings to habitat conservation, and from reduced pressure on infrastructure to energy conservation, as improved water efficiency reduces the need for water pumping, delivery and waste water treatment.
“The savings we’re making by reducing water consumption go beyond the building,” says John Moynihan. “Using less water will place less pressure on water infrastructure and eliminate the need for expensive system upgrades in the future.”
A lasting legacy
When building projects are funded by public money, project owners must be able to demonstrate the value of their investments. Working towards a Green Star rating can help local governments to achieve better outcomes in a cost-effective way for the economy, the environment and the community.
The Corso’s project team estimates the additional Green Star requirements has added 4-5% to the design and building costs. “The additional cost of building to a Green Star standard is expected to be easily recouped through savings in running costs and the rental yield from the leasing of premium commercial office space to the private sector,” the Mayor says.
Council anticipates the additional costs to be recouped within 10 years. “Not all of the benefits of The Corso’s Green Star design will be monetary; just as important are the health benefits for visitors and workers, who will enjoy a clean and green built environment,” says Mayor Sutherland.
“Construction of the Corso at North Lakes is now underway and, as one of Australia’s first public buildings to achieve a 5 Star Green Star accreditation, it sets the benchmark for others to follow in the years ahead. We’re very proud of what’s been achieved with The Corso at North Lakes.”
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