The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland makes a significant shift from thinking of buildings as consumers of resources to being contributors to the regeneration of the ecological and social environment. The building is designed to work with the natural environment and will operate as a zero energy and zero carbon work place.

The GCI building is not only an exemplar of sustainable practice but is home to research and collaboration into the issues around global change and their impacts on the planet. It has also provided a valuable research tool for innovative building systems and the understanding of adaptive comfort conditions in a naturally ventilated sub tropical environment.

The ESD aspiration was for a 6 Star Green Star As Designed and As Built certification under the GBCA Educational V1.2 rating tool. This was challenged further by aspiring to seek certification under The Living Building challenge (LBC) Version 2.0 that would signify the project as demonstrating world leadership in environmentally sustainable design and construction, and be a role model for future projects.

Key iniatives:

  • The building engages the thermal mass of its construction to moderate internal temperatures. Each floor is constructed of precast Geopolymer floor beams. These are exposed at their under surface and temperature controlled by the use of hydronic coils to keep temperature at a low range
  • The air supply system utilises the thermal mass of the basement labyrinth to temper the outside air prior to being dehumidified and delivered to the upper level displacement system
  • The Green Wall in the atrium performs a role in the bio-filtration and re-oxygenation of return air, supplementing fresh air supply from the labyrinth
  • External perforated operable screens sit beyond the operable glazing line to control both solar load and glare internally. Direct sun and the impacts of wind and rain can be controlled
  • The internal atrium is roofed by a triple skin operable ETFE roof. The pneumatically inflated pillows reduce solar loads into the atrium space during peak solar load periods.

Photography by Peter Bennetts