Kingspan’s new $40 million high-performance insulation factory is set to be Australia’s first Green Star-rated manufacturing facility, and comes with a 750-kilowatt solar system on its roof.

The 14,000 square metre Somerton facility, in Melbourne’s north, was designed by sustainable architect Tone Wheeler using sustainably sourced building materials, a rainwater harvesting system and energy renewing ventilators providing double the minimum fresh air requirement.

Kingspan technology was also used in the building, including a smart lighting system and high performance insulation.

The solar system is expected to cover most of the daytime shift energy use. Kingspan Group chief executive Gene Murtagh said this would help with the company’s goal of net zero energy manufacturing for its 100-plus facilities worldwide by 2020. Currently about 60 per cent of its manufacturing is done using renewables.

Mr Murtagh said the plant would be the first in the world to start manufacturing the company’s fourth-generation Kooltherm insulation.

“The market for high performance insulation is growing rapidly around the world in response to government policies aimed at making buildings more energy efficient,” he said.

“This facility gives Australia world leading technical capability in a sector experiencing significant sustained domestic and international growth.”

Kingspan Insulation Australia director Scott Gibson said the plant opened the door to export opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, with 20 per cent of production already slated for export, and expected to grow to 35 per cent by 2020.

The facility is located in the City of Hume, whose manufacturing industry suffered a blow when Ford Australia shut down local production in 2016.

The Kingspan facility has already created 26 new jobs, with another 24 to be filled as production ramps up. Jobs include production and warehouse positions and trainee positions in chemical engineering and information technology, as well as support roles in sales, management, operations and administration.

The Victorian government provided $3 million to aide construction through the Melbourne’s North Innovation and Investment Fund, which was set up to support innovation and job creation following Ford’s closure.

Victorian minister for industry and employment Wade Noonan, Irish ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí and Mr Murtagh will officially open the facility at 2:30pm on Wednesday 5 April. Environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg will also be attending, so watch out for shirtfronting.

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