Chief Executive Officer, City of Gosnells
The City of Gosnells’ Mills Park redevelopment brings sustainability to the people. Achieving Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star – Public Building Design v1 rating in March 2015, the community facility represents ‘World Leadership’ in sustainable civic infrastructure design.
The facility features a new community hall and function centre for 300, commercial kitchen and café, meeting rooms and activity spaces, an indoor play space for children’s parties, a clubroom and changing rooms for sporting groups, as well as office space for staff.
Incorporating a range of outdoor recreation areas, Mills Park will connect local residents, protect the environment and engage the community for decades to come.
The decisions made when planning and delivering public spaces can make or break a council’s bottom line, not only when it comes to up-front capital costs, but also in terms of operational spending.
“The City of Gosnells received its first Green Star rating for the sustainable retrofit of its Civic Centre back in 2010. The project allowed us to achieve incredible efficiencies for a relatively small financial outlay and demonstrated the vital role that sustainable buildings play in securing our city’s future – both environmentally and financially,” says Chief Executive Officer, Ian Cowie.
“We saw Mills Park as an opportunity to go even further. The inclusion of sustainable features that would reduce our ongoing operating costs for a minimal capital premium was an important design brief deliverable.”
Such a measured approach to the facility’s design means Mills Park will save huge amounts of energy and emissions in operation, and cost far less to run than comparable facilities.
Annual energy consumption is expected to be up to 370 megawatt hours lower than a comparable standard building – the equivalent of the energy needed to power 56 homes. Passive architecture combined with low-energy lighting and heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems will reduce the energy needed to power the development by up to 30 per cent, while a 300 kilowatt solar panel array will supply up to 15 per cent of the main building’s annual requirement with renewable solar energy. Together, these measures will save the City of Gosnells up to $145,000 in utility costs year on year.
“To deliver projects like this we have to spend ratepayer dollars, and making sure that we do so responsibly is something that Council takes very seriously. Green Star has provided a robust, trusted framework to measure and verify our success in designing an environmentally sustainable space which will also prove economically sustainable in the future,” Mr Cowie explains.
The City aimed to make Mills Park a space that can be used by the whole community. The location and design of the community and sporting facilities integrates with existing walking, cycling and public transport networks, and will actively encourage more sustainable transport choices.Train and bus timetables will be displayed in the main foyer on an interactive learning display and designated transport stops are located nearby. Parking priority is assigned to small vehicles, and cyclists are well catered for, with secure bike storage provided.
“Mills Park isn’t just about designing and building a green facility – it’s also about engaging the community in a meaningful conversation about sustainability, and actively demonstrating how we can live greener as a community,” says Mr Cowie.
Prone to hot dry summers, it’s no surprise that water-saving measures are all part of the Mills Park redevelopment. Waterless urinals, low-flow taps and toilets combine with water-efficient native landscaping and a 50,000 litre rainwater capture and storage system to save up to 250,000 litres of potable water each year. The design is expected to use up to 70 per cent less water than comparable developments.
“In addition to reducing potable water usage, we’ve also worked hard to reduce the development’s impact on local waterways. Stormwater flows from across the precinct will be screened and filtered in order to protect the Yule Brook and Canning River which are close by,” explains Mr Cowie. “It’s all about taking a holistic approach, and considering how we can protect and enhance local ecosystems and environments.”
Responding to public demand, the City has also invested in the revitalisation of wetland areas on the site and the elimination of contaminants from the park’s previous uses. The City hopes this work will revitalise habitat for threatened and endangered species and improve local biodiversity.
While sustainability is of great importance to the City of Gosnells, ensuring that the Mills Park redevelopment delivered on the community’s wants and needs for the precinct was of equal significance. A consultative approach invited involvement and contribution from residents throughout the master planning process, resulting in a truly ‘for us, by us’ design.
The City has remained remarkably transparent about the costs of the project and has committed to sourcing the majority of the materials, products and labour locally. By working with local contractors and investing in sustainable materials, City of Gosnells is making an investment not only in Mills Park, but in the local ‘green collar’ workforce and economy.
“By insisting that our suppliers demonstrate a sustainable chain of custody and choosing building supplies with proven green credentials we are exposing local businesses and workers to these materials and the philosophy behind them. This knowledge will spread throughout the community and hopefully create new opportunities for sustainable building to be done locally and done right in the City of Gosnells,” Mr Cowie concludes.