Green Star – Design & As Built gets the thumbs up

With more than 40 Green Star projects under its belt, specialist engineering firm Floth always knew a Green Star rating would be an essential element of its new headquarters in Brisbane.

With more than 40 Green Star projects under its belt, specialist engineering firm Floth always knew a Green Star rating would be an essential element of its new headquarters in Brisbane.

But the highly-ambitious team at Floth have exceeded their own sustainability expectations, achieving the first 6 Star Green Star – Design & As Built v1.1 rating in Australia.

The 1,000 sqm building at 69 Robertson Street in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, was awarded 83.3 Green Star points in Round One, an achievement that represents ‘world leadership’ in sustainable design and construction.

Anthony Marklund, the project’s ESD leader, says the team originally set out to achieve Green Star Office v3 and Interiors ratings, but just as the project commenced construction, the next generation Green Star – Design & As Built rating tool was released.

“We were able to test our design and work closely with the contractor to upgrade to Design & As Built once we knew we could achieve our goals without affecting the project cost,” Anthony says.

“We saw this as a clear progression from our previous firsts, which include the first 6 Star Green Star Office As Built v2 and Office Design v3 ratings in Queensland, achieved for Green Square North Tower and 180 Brisbane,” Anthony explains.

Gaining a 6 Star Green Star rating was also an important strategy to help attract a quality tenant for the first floor of the building, as well as “future proofing the building’s valuation,” Anthony explains.

Zeroing in on net zero

69 Robertson Street is the first building to meet the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council's (ASBEC) standard definition of a zero carbon building.

A 53 per cent reduction in operational carbon emissions is predicted from façade and integral building services improvements when compared to an equivalent Building Code compliant energy model.

A roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system achieves a further 13 per cent reduction, equivalent to offsetting 28 per cent of the building's final operational energy.

Anthony says that 100 per cent accredited GreenPower purchased from Origin is the “final piece of the zero carbon puzzle”, and the entire base building will be effectively zero carbon in operation. 

Notably the free electricity generated by the solar photovoltaic system will more than offset the additional operational cost of the GreenPower.

“Given the cost effectiveness of the building, it would be difficult to come up with a better solution,” Anthony adds.

Super streamlined certification

So, how was it working with the Green Star – Design & As Built rating tool?

“Not only is the rating system streamlined, its ability to cover virtually any building project type allowed us to include our integrated fitout,” Anthony comments.

“This meant we had no need for a separate Green Star – Interiors rating, which resulted in a certification cost saving and significant reduction in effort.”

Being the first time that the new system was applied to a project at construction stage, Floth needed clarification on a range of “minor technicalities.”

“We enjoyed an open and frank relationship with the GBCA technical team in providing first-hand feedback on the submission guidelines, calculators and innovations.

“Although there was a rapid learning curve and no precedent for us to work from, we found the new submission templates and documentation requirements to be generally simplified and more practical.”

Anthony notes key improvements as the elimination of separate project-created coversheets and most additional short reports that were previously required under legacy tools.

“Overall we have found that practical and cost effective integrated design is well rewarded by the new rating tool, and that costly or exotic technologies were not required.”

Anthony does warn experienced Green Star Accredited Professionals that there is a “bit of unlearning to do.

“Credits have been completely revised, with many now including both prescriptive and performance-based pathways that must be best navigated. The performance-based approaches generally require greater design effort for increased potential reward.

“The certification process is also a lot more flexible so one needs to overcome certain preconceptions that may have developed while working with the legacy tools. A good example of this is that there is no requirement to submit Technical Clarifications or Credit Interpretation Requests if the intent of the credit is clearly met with alternative evidence,” Anthony adds.