University of Melbourne Fishermans Bend campus

11 Mar 2021

"How can Green Star challenge us to do better and how can our academics influence the evolution of Green Star? By road testing Green Star Building we can demonstrate to others the early application of the rating tool and have an impact beyond our own boundaries.”"


Manager of Sustainable Campus Design, University of Melbourne

Taking the concept of a “living laboratory” to the next level, the University of Melbourne is applying Green Star Buildings at its new Fishermans Bend campus to deliver sustainable space for experimentation, prototyping and pilot-testing at an industrial scale.

The University of Melbourne’s researchers and students tackle some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century – from renewable energy systems to affordable sustainable housing, advanced transport to climate resilient cities. As they do, they need a space that matches the level of their ambitions.

Stage 1 of the University of Melbourne’s new Fishermans Bend campus, currently in concept design, will create a place that supports collaboration, experimentation, prototyping and pilot-testing at an industrial scale.

Our focus is to translate ground-breaking research into market-ready solutions for a sustainable future, driving innovation and providing hands on experience for our students.

Rowan Maclean, Executive Director for Fishermans Bend, University of Melbourne

World class laboratories will test innovations in advanced manufacturing and the built environment, workspaces will inspire interactivity and collaboration between researchers, students and industry, and large, flexible spaces will support interactive learning. The campus will be a welcoming vibrant hub of activity, including retail, restaurants and a high-quality public realm.

“The University is creating a place where we can engage with industry and the community to showcase our research in action,” says Rowan Maclean, the Executive Director of the University’s Fishermans Bend project.

“Our focus is to translate ground-breaking research into market-ready solutions, driving innovation for a sustainable future and providing hands on experience for our students.

“As Australia’s leading research university, we are committed to contributing to society in ways that enrich and transform lives. Fishermans Bend campus will drive innovation, with purpose-built, industrial scale facilities for education, research and development that are unparalleled in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Fishermans Bend Campus fast facts:

  • The University of Melbourne has purchased 7.2 hectares in the heart of Fishermans Bend, a site formerly occupied by General Motors Holden for 80 years.
  • Just five kilometres from the CBD, the campus will be a catalyst to transform Fishermans Bend into an innovation precinct for advanced manufacturing and sustainable design.
  • Stage 1 campus – with purpose-built facilities for the Melbourne School of Engineering and the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning – is set to open in 2024, with a campus population of 4,000 students, staff and industry partners.
  • The campus will house purpose-built, industrial scale facilities for education, research and development that are unparalleled in the Southern Hemisphere, from wind tunnels to full scale building fabrication labs.
  • The campus will be developed in three stages, with 10,000 people working, researching and studying at the campus by 2032.
  • The campus will deliver $4.253 billion to the state’s economy and generate 11,000 jobs, according to ACIL Allen forecasts.

Green Star and innovation aspiration

On a project that aims to push the boundaries of innovation, there was never a question of whether the Fishermans Bend campus would participate in developing a new Green Star rating tool. It provides the opportunity to test the tool on complex challenges and provide learnings that can be shared, the team says.

“Green Star is our standard sustainability rating tool,” explains Dr Gerard Healey, the University’s Manager of Sustainable Campus Design.

The University’s sustainability plan outlines a commitment to achieve 6 Star Green Star ratings for all new buildings as it works towards carbon neutrality before 2030.

The question, then, became whether the new Green Star Buildings rating tool would guide the design process – a question that was easily answered.

“It didn’t make sense for us to use a Green Star rating tool that would be phased out a year or two before our campus, focused on innovation, opened.”

Gerard, who is a member of the Green Star Technical Advisory Group, says the University saw an opportunity to be part of the Green Star Early Access Program through Fishermans Bend, and committed the project before concept design.

Our aspiration is that industry will collaborate with our researchers and students, taking new ideas and products to market for a sustainable future.”

Dr Gerard Healey, Manager of Sustainable Campus Design, University of Melbourne

An innovation incubator at an industrial scale

The campus will be the ideal place for making, doing and testing, with facilities unlike anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

Located in an industrial zone, the Fishermans Bend campus will be home to “large scale, noisy and messy activity,” – whether that is testing new building materials for fire resilience or simulating flight in a pressurised wind tunnel for faster, safer and more sustainable travel.

“It’s a location that provides us with opportunities to do amazing things,” Rowan says.

“Collaboration and the exchange of ideas should be at the heart of every university campus, and we are continuing to create opportunities for our students and researchers to engage with industry and the community in a collaborative environment.

“The facilities at Fishermans Bend campus, including large scale fabrication and assembly space, digital prototyping, materials and systems testing, robotic construction, environmental testing and digital design, will take the student learning experience to another level”, Rowan adds.

The industrial buildings may be super-sized, but they will also support interactivity at the human scale.

Green Star: A facilitator with industry

“Through the Fishermans Bend campus design and operation we will test the limits of best practice water, energy and waste, and in doing so drive industry innovation through demonstration, research, partnerships and hands-on experiences,” Rowan says.

It is not the first time the University has used buildings as a Living Lab. The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning’s facility at Parkville, which achieved a 6 Star Green Star rating in 2014, was conceived as a learning and teaching tool, with exposed structures, like the underside of the Y-stairs, offering insights into construction techniques and fabrication. Fishermans Bend campus will take this to a new level.

The campus design and construction will support new industry methods and materials, creating a tangible example of the sustainable infrastructure, buildings, systems and practice innovations the University community is driving to create a better future.

“We want to use the campus as a living lab for sustainable development. We also want to hear ideas from industry and the community about ideas for projects and opportunities to partner on new research and methodologies,” Rowan says.

This project is a unique opportunity to be bold and test the boundaries. “What we are trying to achieve is the best environmental outcome that we can, while providing a living laboratory that can be learnt from through exploring and testing as much as we can throughout the project.

“The Fishermans Bend campus will be a catalyst and enabler of innovation that extends beyond the campus into the real world, transforming industry knowledge and practice,” Gerard adds.

“For us, success will be more than low-impact buildings. Success will be measured by the impact we have beyond our own boundaries.”

“Green Star, a common language within the construction industry, will help us communicate that for maximum impact.”