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August 19, 2009 @ 1:37 pm
Dueling 6 Star Green Buildings in Melbourne

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The Council House 2 building (CH2) in Melbourne was anointed the greenest building in Australia when it became the first to receive 6 stars (in 2005) from Green Building Council Australia’s (GBCA) Green Star rating system. By my count, there are now 18 6 Star buildings in Australia. Impressively, 11% of Australia’s central business district commercial office buildings are Green Star certified which I would imagine compares very favorably to other countries – I’ll have to research it to find out for sure.

The scale has three rating levels; 4 Star, 5 Star and 6 Star, and points are obtained from 9 categories: Management, Indoor Environment Quality, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Land Use & Ecology, Emissions and Innovation. According to GBCA the 6 Star rating signifies “world leadership in environmental sustainability.” In meeting this standard, CH2 and Melbourne’s latest 6 Star entrant, the Melbourne Convention Centre (MCC) have some very impressive features.

ch2A 10-story city government office building opened in 2006, CH2 features photovoltaic cells, chilled ceilings, a co-generation plant and blackwater sewage recycling systems amongst other things. The whole project cost a shade over A$51 million, A$11.3 million of which went to sustainability features that are expected to have a 6 year payback from energy and resource cost savings.

  • Solar cells provide 60% of the building’s hot water supply
  • The chilled ceilings are part of an innovative cooling system that is much more efficient and more comfortable for building occupants than traditional airflow systems
  • The gas-fired co-gen plant will provide 40% of building’s electricity with much lower relative carbon emissions

Maybe the two most interesting features from my perspective are the “shower towers” that mimic ant-holes for cooling purposes while sprinkling water on passersby and the beautiful recycled timber shades pictured above that provide passive cooling to the sunny westside of the building while still letting in light if need be. Significantly more details about all of CH2’s innovations can be found here. Click “read more” and continue reading about the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The MCC resulted from a public-private partnership between the State Government of Victoria and Plenary Group and it was opened last year on the banks of the Yarra River. The bid process resulted in a flexible, environmentally sustainable design focused on water conservation, energy savings and the quality of the indoor environment. 4 Star certification was required but the designers targeted a 6 Star rating from the beginning. Some of its features:

Water Conservation

  • Integrated black water treatment plant treats all wastewater to Grade A, fulfilling 100% of toilet needs and 90% of cooling tower and irrigation needs
  • The water systems also collect rainwater from the roof and other surfaces
  • Overall, potable water consumption is reduced by 70%

Energy Savings

  • Displacement ventilation and chilled beams result in air conditioning that emits 37% less GHGs than a similar traditional building would
  • Lighting is highly controlled to utilize pre-set minimum and/or ideal lighting conditions for all the various building uses (whether mid-conference, set-up, private event, etc.)
  • Solar hot water offsets 40% of building needs (100% of bathroom needs)

Indoor Environment

  • All new timber used was Forest Stewardship Council certified and other sustainable furnishings and floor coverings were used
  • HVAC design provides effective air change effectiveness for more than 90% of the gross floor area
  • Low VOC and low emission formaldehyde building materials


Another nice feature for conference goers is that 90% of peak attendees can be housed in hotels within walking distance to the Centre, further denting its carbon footprint.

Photos: Courtesy Mapping Melbourne (CH2) and Rob Aid (MC)

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