Melbourne Connect

31 Oct 2023

"Universities have a responsibility to mobilise knowledge for action on climate change and to walk the talk in their own facilities"


Manager, Sustainability Strategy in the Corporate Finance, Property and Sustainability CFO Group at The University of Melbourne

Educational and research settings often spark ideas that move the world with their innovation and the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Connect is no exception. Located on the edge of the city, Melbourne Connect unites digital technologies and sustainability know-how to help the university achieve its climate goals and is a shining example of what can be achieved when Green Building Council of Australia’s partners and members work together.

Opening in 2021, Melbourne Connect is a project that finds solutions to global climate problems and enables students and researchers to do the same, by fostering information sharing and collaboration – all in the heart of Melbourne's innovation district.

Encompassing the Melbourne School of Engineering, a meeting place for interdisciplinary research groups and industry partners, a co-working space, and a centre for start-ups, Melbourne Connect also serves the wider community with a childcare facility for 90 children and student accommodation of 376 apartments.

Melbourne Connect fast facts

  • Melbourne Connect is comprised of three buildings spanning 74,000m²
  • On site solar panels provide 10 per cent of the precinct's power 
  • Achieved 40-50 per cent reduction in energy use compared to conventional buildings
  • Heat pumps throughout cool and heat the buildings
  • A site-wide greywater collection and treatment system reduces water waste
  • Meets Passive Haus air tightness requirements

Spanning 74,000m², the precinct was delivered by a consortium including GBCA members Lendlease, with structural engineering, facades, acoustics and sustainability design undertaken by Arup, and services engineering provided by Norman Disney Young, and water conservation solutions in two of the three towers were provided by Geberit.

The 6 Star Green Star – Interiors certified fit-out for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology was designed by Hassell and AECOM led the engineering, with sustainability outputs implemented by Aurecon.

Creating, saving, and monitoring energy from the outside in

The project encompasses three attached buildings, centred around an outdoor oculus. From the outside the striking, multi-coloured façade hints at the innovation that lies within and is one of many energy-saving design features that contribute to a precinct-wide 40-50 per cent reduction in energy consumption, compared to conventional buildings.

Awarded 6 Star Green Star Design & As Built certifications for both the student accommodation and commercial buildings, plus a 5 Star NABERs Energy rating - a base building rating for the office - Melbourne Connect is efficient and also achieves Passive Haus air tightness requirements. It then puts tech to use with sensors monitoring climate parameters inside the building, to better control and measure energy use.

Powered by renewables, on site solar panels provide 10 per cent of the site’s power, and a state-of-the art geothermal system - including pipes within the foundation of the buildings along with heatpumps - heats and cools the entire precinct.

“Universities have a responsibility to mobilise knowledge for action on climate change and to walk the talk in their own facilities,” said Dr Gerard Healey, Manager, Sustainability Strategy in the Corporate Finance, Property and Sustainability CFO Group at The University of Melbourne.

Water efficiency solutions of the future, today

With a changing climate and dryer conditions front of mind, water conservation was a key consideration from the outset and as result the commercial building has achieved a 4.5 Star NABERS Water rating, a whole building rating for the office. The project implemented a site-wide greywater collection and treatment system and thanks to a reuse of rainwater, drinking water is saved too – by an impressive 20 per cent.

GBCA member and Green Star Homes partner Geberit stepped in to provide its expertise in wastewater drainage in two of the three towers at Melbourne Connect, with wastewater drained using the Geberit SuperTube system, which Geberit’s Southern Region Technical Manager, Marc Williams, explains is a hydraulically optimised drainage system that saves space, time and cost for projects like Melbourne Connect.

“By eliminating the requirement of parallel ventilation pipes, more floor and residential space can be created, at the same time SuperTube significantly reduced material usage and its HDPE construction is more durable and sustainable,” said Marc.

Characterised by their outstanding durability Geberit products often span several decades. They can be maintained, cleaned and repaired easily, and Geberit offers a guaranteed spare parts availability of up to 50 years for a large part of the product range. Additionally, newly developed products and components are often backwards-compatible, meaning older products can also be enhanced with the addition of new components and functions.

Marc says Geberit is proud to help projects like Melbourne Connect, through their sustainability journey, 

“We have a long track record of helping projects like Melbourne Connect meet their Green Star and NABERs ambitions. From our operations, right through to our products and our contribution to a circular economy, we are pleased to service like-minded companies as they work toward their climate goals.”

Green Building Council of Australia thanks Geberit, a Future Homes supporting partner, for their ongoing leadership and their support of our activities in this space. Green Star Homes is on the forefront of homes that are healthy, positive and ready to respond to our changing climate. Keen to know more? Visit our Green Star Homes resource.