Shared spaces

18 July 2013 — After being in 200 St Georges Terrace, Perth since the early 1970s, Norman Disney & Young really knew what they wanted in their new office fitout.

So when the opportunity came to move up one floor, from 10 to 11, it was time for the fitout that was “built to how we wanted to use it”, says NDY’s Perth state director Andrew Macgregor.

They also kept half of the lower level, expanding their office space by 50 per cent. That will be ready for the staff to move back in by October.

Vertical gardens

There are 135 staff members in Perth, with about 100 in St Georges Terrace.

Mr Macgregor said the construction was kept to just two months so the new office would be ready for the start of the financial year. A tight timeframe, but manageable.

It started with the fitout of Level 11 while staff remained in all of Level 10. Once it was finished, the majority of staff moved up to Level 11 over a weekend – Friday to Tuesday –  while half of Level 10 was retained for the rest of the staff.

And the company is clearly proud that it was all done to a standard commercial price – despite the target of a 5 Star Green Star Office Interiors v1.1 rating.

Mr Macgregor said that was part of NDY’s conscious decision to “walk the talk” and prove that a 1970s building can be upgraded to a Green Star level – at an affordable price.

But it wasn’t all easy going. The 1970s cloisters arcade building – built to 1970s standards – did limit some Green Star rating abilities.

Because NDY could not change base-building services there were limitations in availability of outside air to the general office space through airconditioning and tenant exhaust capacity.

It was the same for the building form, 1970s buildings are more “boxy” with smaller windows limiting daylight and external views.

Andrew Macgregor

Mr Macgregor said today’s buildings were all designed with light and views at front of mind. But it had been partly addressed with “Club NDY” offering bench seating along available windows to enjoy views in downtime.

Finally, although end-of-trip cyclist facilities had been available in the basement, because a new building was being constructed next door, with shared basement facilities, they were out of action for a couple of years while it was built.

Once the building was up the new basement would house the facilities, Mr Macgregor said.

The team involved MKDC  as the lead consultant, project manager and interior designer, NDY Sustainability as the Green Star Accredited Professional and Northerly as the head contractor.

Mr Macgregor said the benefits of the new 5 Star Green Star office were already apparent.


“There is a palpable sense of well-being amongst staff and an obvious lift in morale. This also demonstrates to our clients that we are serious about making a difference. We are very proud of our new home.”

And NDY’s global director of sustainability Tony Arnel said the Perth office fitout was a major milestone demonstrating the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“It’s one thing to talk about green buildings, it’s entirely different to actually invest in them,” he said.



A benchmark was set in design to target green materials procurement and is where the bulk of Green Star points are achieved.

Feature initiatives included:

  • Timber – Even with the relatively short design and construction timeline, the project has been able to meet the goal of the using only sustainably sourced timber, this being only re-used/recycled and Forestry Stewardship Council/Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification certified timber.
  • Green Star materials credits – In total the project is tracking to realise 22 out of the possible 23 points for furniture and construction materials procurement. This has involved the design and construction team pursuing every option for green procurement within the project budget. MKDC selected furniture and carpet which would work towards Green Star ratings, while Northerly were told what products were needed and left to source suppliers.
  • Construction waste management – Targeted early on as a key client deliverable, management of the recycling of construction waste has proved a difficult but manageable challenge with the inherent space limitations of building construction works to the adjacent site and basement of the building.

Indoor environment quality

A range of initiatives has been implemented to promote the best possible indoor environment quality in construction and operation including:

Plants – Senior sustainability consultant Molly Hicks said, under a two-year rental contract with Ambius, a range of plants had been selected to contribute to indoor air quality or air natural filters. There are also two green walls installed by Vertical Gardens with another to be installed on Level 10. “To ensure that plants stay healthy and continue to contribute to good air quality within the office space, we have engaged the plant suppliers above to maintain all plants for two years including replacement on any plants that get sick,” she said.

Plant species on the green wall include:

  • Spathiphyllum petites (Peace Lily)
  • Pittosporum golfballs
  • Opiopogon japonicas (Mondo grass)
  • Nandina domestica flirts
  • Asplenium nidus
  • Lomandra Lime Divine
  • Dianella Dinky Di
  • Lomandra Crackerjack
  • Dianella Coolvista

Plants around the office include:

  • Zamioculcus zamifolia
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sanseveria trifasicata)
  • Parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
  • Cordyline sp.

The result exceeds by far the minimum Green Star benchmark criteria for plant density.

  • Indoor air quality – indoor air quality was maximised through use of low-volatile organic compound emission for all paints, carpets, sealants and timber as well as cleaning of existing ductwork.

Energy efficiency

Senior acoustics engineer Aaron James said as a member of the City Switch program targeting an energy efficient fitout rating was important in supporting the Green Star rating. Targeting a 20 per cent improvement on a 5 Star tenancy NABERs rating energy efficient measures was promoted throughout the fitout including replacement of the base-building lighting with greater energy efficient fittings (with existing fittings retained for maintenance replacement in the building) and automatic controls for lighting and supplementary mechanical systems controls.

Mr James said working with the base-building owners and facility management NDY was able to negotiate the swapping out base-building dual fluorescent luminaire fittings for the same type single luminaire T5 fittings, retaining the ceiling grid and fitting type for make-good at the end of the lease. “Replaced fittings were returned to facility management to be used for maintenance and refurbishments throughout the building (and) overall the tenant benefits from a lower tenant lighting power consumption and the base-building from a reduced load on the HVAC,” he said.

Other sustainability initiatives

Tony Arnel

Beyond the scope of Green Star, other sustainability initiatives targeted in the fitout include:

Club NDY. Ms Hicks said Club NDY was “a really great place to have a rest. “There is a lot of reused furniture, benches by the windows, a great coffee machine, a projector and LCD television,” she said. “On a Friday you’ll go in there and the staff are enjoying a wine at the end of the day.” Mr James said a new Green Star interiors rating tool being created included a place of respite for staff with “appropriate daylight and appropriate noise levels”. The minimum requirement will be five per cent of the floor plan, with NDY offering eight per cent, he said.

Workstations – All workstation tables are fitted with sit-stand capability to allow staff to use their workstation as feels most comfortable to them. Mr James said the office director had “pushed hard” for flexible workstations after looking at a number of studies. Ms Hicks said the flexible work design meant staff could stand at benches and work collaboratively with touch screens, or move to a more private work space.

Acoustics – Attention was made in design and construction to ensure meeting rooms and private offices have adequate speech privacy to reflect the use of the space. Mr James said in the previous office with its 1970s standard construction, there had been poor speech privacy from meeting rooms and directors offices. And so the move was the chance to improve acoustics and provide a more quality experience for staff and visitors.

Ms Hicks said the response by staff had been “incredibly positive” with a lot more meeting rooms and more quiet space. “It has been received really well and visitors have also been very impressed.”

Mr James said the new office had been “built how we wanted to use it”.

“The idea was that we needed private spaces when we needed privacy and we needed collaborative spaces when we needed to collaborate.

“And the information flows organically.

“We have been in this building so many years we really went into it with our eyes open.”

NDY has 5 Star Green Star – Office Interiors Certified Ratings for its Canberra and Melbourne offices, and is targeting Green Star certified ratings for both Perth and Brisbane.