How Australian Architects Lead the Way in Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is a key concern in modern building. Clients want to see a commitment to environmental issues. Australia has become a world leader in this sector.

Sustainability is not a brand-new concept. It has existed for several decades. As people become more aware of the effects of climate change, it becomes even more important. Changes to the industry have reflected that in recent years. Since the turn of the millennium, the industry has made a push towards sustainability in buildings.

Australia is one of the front runners in this movement. Its wide-scale adoption of new methodologies, such as Building Information Modelling, highlights this. Moreover, Australia’s challenging climate necessitates sustainable design. Since 2000, the country has become a leading light in green building.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) encapsulates this commitment. The GBCA aims to bring organisations together to create a better Australia. It pushes towards sustainability in every aspect of the industry.

To help with that, it created the Green Star ratings system. This system applies a rating to every building built under the GBCA’s banner. Designers and builders have to register to become eligible for it. And they must meet certain requirements to achieve it. But it is worth it. A building that carries a Green Star rating demonstrates a commitment to sustainability.

The system rates projects on a six-star scale. Here, we look at one of the few buildings to get a maximum rating.

Case Study – 1 Bligh Street

1 Bligh Street stands as a monument to sustainability in buildings. It is the first building to receive the coveted six-star rating from Green Star. But it has won several other awards besides. These include:

  • The Sir Arthur G. Stephenson Award for Commercial Architecture 2012. Awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA).
  • The Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award 2008.
  • The Milo Dunphy Award for Sustainable Architecture 2012. Also awarded by the AIA.

That last award is particularly important. It highlights the intense commitment to sustainability made throughout the project.

The Sustainability Solutions

So, how did 1 Bligh Street become the first building to earn a 6-star Green Star rating?

A range of inbuilt features helped to push it past the post. These include the following:

  • The Central Atrium. The atrium covers the entire height of the building and looks stunning. But it’s not just the aesthetic that makes it stand out. The use of glass allows for natural ventilation. The atrium provides a constant flow of fresh air, as well as allowing for great views. This fresh air reduces the building’s reliance on air conditioning.
  • The Energy System. 1 Bligh Street stands out due to its use of a tri-generation energy system. It combines the use of solar power and gas to power the building. This system also governs the heating and cooling systems.
  • Black Water Recycling. The building is the first in Sydney’s Central Business District to make use of black water recycling. In particular, it uses black water recycling in its toilets’ flushing systems. This allows for a massive reduction in water usage throughout the building.
  • Rain Water Recycling. It is not just black water that 1 Bligh Street reuses. The building also recycles rainwater. It uses this to maintain the many decorative plants spread throughout the building. Rainwater also maintains the green areas on the rooftop terrace.
  • The Façade. This is perhaps the most innovative feature of the building. It uses a double-skin façade that is made using glass. The outer layer provides protection to computer-operated sunshades. It also guards the double-glazed inner layer from the sun. Moreover, this double-skin reflects more natural light into the building. This reduces reliance on the building’s lighting systems. Savings in energy and lower costs result from this.

1 Bligh Street is an exceptional achievement. It shows just what is possible with a concerted focus on sustainable design. It is likely that this building will become a model for future designs. As sustainability becomes more vital, buildings like this will not be exceptions. They will become the norm for Australian building design.

Other Major Projects

If you need further evidence of sustainability’s importance, there are plenty of other projects to examine. On top of that, 20% of the country’s office space carries Green Star certification.

Sustainability in buildings is not a fad concept. It is here to stay, and it is key to many major building projects

The Commons – Melbourne

This 2014 building has won several awards, The Commons’ striking design is not the only thing that makes it stand out. It is a multi-purpose building that combines apartments with art studios. It also pushes towards encouraging tenants not to drive. Instead of car parking spaces, it offers bicycle spaces.

Even its placement furthers its sustainability goals. It is only 6km away from Melbourne’s CBD. Plus, it’s within walking distance of public transport. The Commons shows a commitment to sustainable design and in the actions that it encourages.

Central Park – Sydney

1 Bligh Street’s 6-star Green Star rating is very impressive. But it should not overshadow the efforts of other building designers in Sydney. Central Park is another stellar example of sustainable design in the city. Moreover, it boasts its own 5-star rating.

The building has one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities. This water, which it collects from seven sources, gets used in about 70% of all residential activities. The building also has its own gas plant, which reduces its carbon footprint. Plus, the rooftop garden only adds to its green credentials.

Green Skills Training Centre – Perth

With a name like Green Skills Training Centre, this building has to offer something special. An educational facility focused on environmental issues; it is also a sustainable building in its own right.

The building uses a solar voltaic power system. The system offsets every scrap of the building’s yearly energy usage. It also features a heat recovery system and a displaced air conditioning system. But it is the commitment to environmental education that makes it stand out. The “peel back” construction method makes its sustainability features viewable. Students can see them in action and learn how to implement them.

Why the Drive to Sustainability in Buildings?

You can look at this drive towards sustainability from two perspectives:

  • The environmental side
  • The business side

Let’s look at the environmental side first. It’s clear that climate change is a massive issue that affects the entire planet. Changing climates may cause more heat waves and droughts. This will have a massive effect on agriculture and our general way of life. Climate change will also raise the sea level, which puts many places at risk of flooding. Plus, it increases the severity of storms and other extreme weather.

Our built-up areas are one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s these gases that change the makeup of Earth’s atmosphere and accelerate climate change.

So, the environmental argument for sustainable design is a simple one. Sustainable buildings have lower carbon footprints than regular buildings. They use 51% less water and recycle most of their construction waste. Most importantly, they produce 62% fewer greenhouse gases.

From the environmental point of view, the drive towards sustainability has a future focus. It aims to create better buildings that have a lessened effect on the planet. As such, sustainable design sits alongside many other environmental efforts. As its use increases, buildings will produce less greenhouse gases. The aim is to slow down the effects of climate change on the planet.

That is one half of the coin. There are several business-related benefits to sustainable building as well. Builders and designers can use these benefits to attract more buyers and tenants.

For one, going green is now something of a brand for modern businesses. More people than ever understand the effects of climate change. As a result, they are less willing to buy from businesses that aren’t minimising their impact. A business can use owning a sustainable building as a marketing strategy. This allows them to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

Sustainable building also has a more direct effect on the bottom line. The long-term savings that come from the technologies used prove beneficial to businesses.

Take solar panels as an example. These allow the building’s owners to generate their own electricity. As a result, they pay less money to suppliers. The same goes for recycling water. Building owners can save thousands of dollars every year due to paying less in utilities.

Finally, sustainable buildings create healthier work environments. Australian businesses lose over $30 billion per year due to sick leave. A building that encourages better health also leads to greater productivity.

Who’s Taking Note?

As mentioned, Australia is a leading light in sustainable design. Naturally, this means that other countries have started to take note of the techniques that the country’s builders use.

Take the comments from architect Yuli Cadney-Toh as an example. She notes that Australia can become an example for the English city of Bristol.

She specifically points to Sydney’s sustainable high-rise buildings. In talking about Bristol, she says: “This is a city with huge potential and there is no reason why it cannot meet the needs of its communities.”

“…Taller buildings of high design quality are an important ingredient in the creation of sustainable cities that work for the people who live in them.”

She believes that such buildings will help the city’s council reach its goal of creating 13,500 homes by 2036.

Australia’s sustainability drive is not limited to the country itself. It is influencing the decisions that architects in other countries make as well. Buildings like 1 Bligh Street may serve as an example for what’s to come across the globe.

Ideas for Sustainability

The examples spoken about above cover some general ideas for sustainable design. Solar panels open the door for in-house electricity production. Water recycling can reduce our reliance on water from non-sustainable sources.

But there are plenty of other ideas that you can put into practice.

  • Window Design. Louvre windows offer a great alternative to traditional windows. Their design allows more control over the airflow into a building while cutting down on safety concerns. Safetyline Jalousie’s louvre windows also reduce heat ingress.
  • Green Areas. Rooftop gardens and other green areas can offset the carbon that a building produces. You can even use recycled rainwater to maintain plant life. “Living” roofs also provide natural insulation that prevents heat from escaping a building.
  • Geothermal Solutions. These require a rather large initial investment. But they can reap rewards in the long term. Such technologies take advantage of the earth itself to cool or heat a home. They may be difficult to implement in large buildings. But they are an option for houses and other small buildings.

Conclusion

The work of builders, designers, and organisations like the GBCA make Australia a leader in sustainable design. 1 Bligh Street is the best example of what the industry can achieve. But there are plenty more besides. The country has undertaken a drive towards sustainability in buildings. In the coming years, we are likely to see many more buildings emulate 1 Bligh Street’s example.

Safetyline Jalousie can help if you want to design sustainable buildings. Our louvre windows meet or exceed all current Australian building codes and we place sustainability at the top of our agenda.

We encourage you to find out more about our windows by doing the following:

  • Examine the features that we build into our windows
  • Check out our blog to find more industry-related news and articles.
  • Contact a Business Manager to discuss your needs.

 

References:

The Green Building Council of Australia

Australia’s top sustainable buildings – 1 Million Women

Australian Green Building Industry Overview – Australian Trade and Investment Commission

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Ali Asmar

Business Manager - VIC & SA

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As the most recent addition to the Safetyline Jalousie family, Ali is still coming to terms with the fact that a typical telephone conversation will often be answered with “You’re calling from Safety what”? followed by having to sound out and spell the name “ja-lou-sie” (it happens to us all). Born in Lebanon, Ali has moved around a lot over the years, living in Cyprus, Sydney for most of his Schooling, as well as China and Hong Kong. He currently resides in Melbourne where he spends a lot of time in his garden or doing some sort of work around the house. (Not too dissimilar to many other Melburnians following the onset of Covid). With a very obvious cultured background, Ali is warm and talkative and he’ll get you talking too.

Romile John

National Business Manager

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One of the Safetyine Jalousie originals, Rom (often mistaken for John) holds a great passion for the product. He says its “its innovative, a market leader and ever-evolving, very much like the company itself”. When you meet Rom, it is apparent that he is well-educated and well-travelled. Coming from a family of medical professionals, they moved around extensively and often. Last count was 125 countries. So nearly all of them! It’s really no surprise that Rom has mastered packing a weeks-worth of clothes and necessities into a carry-on bag. And when we say clothes we actually mean meticulously prepared outfits and accessories. When Rom enters a room, you’re sure to know it!

Adam Racomelara

National Manager – Partnerships & Strategy

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Adam is our strategist and big ideas generator whose somewhat reserved nature could have some mistake him as a bit of an introvert. But that’s only until this quiet thinker is given a whiteboard and a marker – and then there’s no stopping the dialogue! 7 Years in at Safetyline Jalousie, Adam is continually expanding on his knowledge of the construction industry and is incredibly driven in his pursuit to help create better buildings via the use of better products. When Adam’s not on his quest to improve Australia’s built environment he’s spending most weekends escorting one of his 4 young kids to birthday parties, sometimes multiple parties. He has some stealth survival tips for other parents currently in the same predicament.

Michael Cocks

Factory Manager

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Michael has become recognised at Safetyline Jalousie for his continually changing hairstyles (facial hair included). Buzz cut, undercut, dreadlocks, even a mullet. We’ve see it all. His current man bun could even be gone before we finish this sentence. Always up for a laugh, friends and colleagues love a chat with Michael, and his easy-going and approachable nature has earned him the respect of all staff. In fact, he even has a cohort of followers on the factory floor sporting his same hairstyles. Outside of work Michael has recently turned his attention to mountain bike riding. His very first ride ended with a pretty serious accident resulting in a deep puncture wound to his leg– it’s been a sore topic for his leg and his ego.

Jonathan Gueudinot

National Logistics & Production Manager

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Our South American Native, Jonathan is more simply and better known as “Chilli” (no need to try and guess his country of origin). After 16 years of military service, Chilli joined the Safetyline Jalousie team for what he describes as “a change of pace”. Although his average work day might look very different these days, there’s no doubt that Chilli’s previous experience has contributed in shaping a culture of commitment, community and comradery within the production team – the very important engine room of our company. Driven by a sense of accomplishment, in addition to running Safetyline Jalousie’s production line with military precision, Chilli has recently been studying hard to complete his Master’s Degree in Business and Logistics.

Mandy Saliba

Marketing Manager

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Mandy has been with Safetyline jalousie since day one so would technically be considered a geriatric in “Jalousie years”. Whilst her role has changed and evolved over her time with the business, one thing that hasn’t is the happy and fun, team culture that she says “continues to make each day at work a joy”. As a mum of two little ones, Mandy thrives on new challenges and a little bit of chaos. Although, as a self-proclaimed clean freak, she ensures that all forms of chaos are kept in a very neat and tidy manner. We’ve also observed that Mandy appears to have an inherent fear of colour and will almost only ever be seen in black or white (or sometimes grey if she is being really out there).

Lisa Spinks

Office Administration Manager

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As a busy mother of 4, Lisa is highly skilled in organising, delegating, and troubleshooting – the proficiencies which she also demonstrates in her daily management of the Safetyline Jalousie office. Lisa tells us that she lives by the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger”. (No doubt she’s had to use this little piece or personal encouragement from time to time to deal with our infinite requests)! Always on the go, Lisa has a very active lifestyle and starts every day with a walk to the beach with her husband and two dogs. Of an evening she still has the energy to spare for star jumps and squats in her makeshift gym/ (our office) before heading home to her other full-time job as “mum”.

 

 

 

Nathan Rust

Founder & National Operations Director

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The younger brother of the co-founding sibling duo, “Nath” is the go-to for just about every technical, install, and manufacturing enquiry that comes via the business. Very early on, Nath’s product knowledge and problem-solving ability saw him organically take on the role of Operations, overseeing the design and management of Safetyline Jalousie’s behind-the-scenes work. When he’s off duty (and not answering a million questions), Nath enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 young kids. You’ll find him cheering on his son at weekend sports, enjoying the water somewhere along the Northern beaches and this lover of food is generally always planning his next big meal. Preferably a Lebanese banquet if anyone can suggest a restaurant he doesn’t frequent already.

Leigh Rust

Founder & Director

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Leigh aka “Wolfpack” is one-half of the driving force behind Safetyline Jalousie and comes with two decades of experience within the Australian manufacturing and construction industry. The multi-award-winning entrepreneur and father of three youngsters is a passionate advocate for supporting Australian-made goods and improving the built environment for future generations to come. Always up for a challenge, Leigh never sits still and is constantly pushing himself to test his physical and mental endurance. He’s given just about everything a go. From amateur MMA fights, triathlons, or personal development endeavours, Leigh stands by the motto, ‘I never lose, either I win or I learn’.

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Safetyline Jalousie Design Manual Version 3

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Safetyline Jalousie Design Manual Version 3