A seven storey Perth office block owned by RF CorVal, called Workzone East, has become the first commercial building in WA to officially achieve carbon neutral status.

A milestone on the road to greater sustainability outcomes across the state, the rating was a collaborative effort by the building owner, asset managers Knight Frank, and consultants Cundall.

Director of commercial at RF CorVal, Con Tsioulos, said the achievement would set a higher benchmark for Perth’s property market and across his own company’s portfolio.

Constructed in 2013, the building was originally designed for 5 Star Green Star and is currently headquarters to key tenant, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Driving the carbon neutral certification was the building’s management team. Knight Frank facilities manager, Janitha Kaushal said even before setting the goal to go carbon neutral, the team had spent several years improving energy efficiency.

Measures including altering lighting schedules, introducing sensor lighting systems, upgrading to LED lighting, implementing a control strategy for air conditioning usage through the lifts and tenancies — all of which improved the building’s NABERS Energy rating from 4.5 Stars to 5.5 Stars.

Earlier this year, the team engaged Cundall as expert consultants to help get them across the line of becoming the first carbon neutral commercial building in WA — however once on board the experienced sustainability team aimed to go even further.

Principal at Cundall, Mathuran Marianayagam explained that energy efficiency was just one part of a building’s performance measure, prompting them to create a five-year sustainability roadmap to guide progress beyond just cutting energy bills.

“It’s important to materialise the full potential of the building…not only energy efficiency but also carbon emission reduction, health and wellbeing, tenant engagement, waste and finally achieving the science-based target,” Mr Marianayagam said. 

“All those things were part of the sustainability roadmap, giving the owner and asset manager a clear idea of when to use what fund and where, so they can move everything in synergy rather than doing it piecemeal.” 

When it came time to go for carbon neutral certification, a year earlier than initially expected, Mr Marianayagam said optimising the building’s HVAC system, as well as elevators, made the biggest difference — with the remaining roughly 500 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions offset through the purchase of UN approved carbon credits. 

“The [carbon neutral] process is not overly difficult through NABERS and through Climate Active it can be done. If anyone has the conviction and the willingness,” Mr Marianayagam said.

Under a broader sustainability strategy, the building owners also installed EV charging points in the basement carpark and with tenant involvement are now recycling around 48 per cent of total waste generated in the building, including a compost bin for use on gardens onsite.

On-site EV charging is supplemented by a new 99 kilowatt rooftop solar installation and is not included in the base building energy profile. 

The team is also working to upgrade the current gas boilers with an energy efficient heat pump system to power end-of-trip facilities.

The certification for Workzone East follows Knight Frank’s success earlier this year in achieving the first 6-Star NABERS Energy Rating office building in WA without green power or onsite renewable energy for Workzone West at 202 Pier Street.

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