The first two projects to achieve ratings under the Green Building Council of Australia’s new Green Star Interiors PILOT tool represent both ends of the fitout scale, from the small 100 square metre office of South Australia’s dsquared Consulting to the major commercial space occupied by Lend Lease Business Services in Chatswood.
Launched last year, the new tool has been designed to be applicable to any type of interior, including those in the retail, health, education and industrial sectors.
Director of dsquared, Deborah Davidson says the fitout was undertaken on a minimal budget, and that many of the project’s points were gained from the no-cost measure of choosing a space with abundant natural light and ventilation, and an excellent location with public transport connectivity and walkability to amenities and sporting facilities; the location also means clients are within walking distance.
The original space had office partitions that were demolished and 100 per cent of the materials recycled. No repainting was done, as the existing finishes were judged to be adequate.
“We didn’t spend a lot on furniture; we came at it from the point of view of using less materials,” Ms Davidson says.
Upcycled elements feature in the office, including pinboards and a central workstation bench and cable organiser made by a local woodworker from pallet timber salvaged by dsquared ESD consultant Ken Long.
Plantings have been added to the outdoor balconies for increased connectivity to the outdoor streetscape, and the Interiors tool enabled the firm to achieve points for the office’s access to daylight and views, and excellent natural ventilation.
“Because it was a PILOT tool, we gave ongoing feedback to GBCA on how the tool works when it is applied to small spaces,” Ms Davidson says.
CitySwitch results in 5.5 Star NABERS
At the same time as the Green Star process was being undertaken, the firm also participated in the CitySwitch program, and some of the initiatives overlapped to benefit both the Green Star rating and the achievement of a 5.5 star NABERS rating without Green Power, although Ms Davidson says it is being purchased.
The natural light level is such that Ms Davidson says the compact fluorescents are rarely used, especially as an arrangement was negotiated as part of the firm’s lease that the landlord would install motion sensors and daylight sensors. Another item negotiated as part of the lease was replacement of the floor coverings by the landlord with Good Environmental Choice Australia-certified carpets.
Airconditioning is also rarely used, as the balcony doors are opened for most of the year for natural ventilation, and native climbers and other plants in recycled planter boxes add an extra element of greenery to the outdoor view. The winters can be cold, so energy-efficient radiant panel heaters were installed. These are manually controlled rather than controlled by building-wide thermostat systems.
All four staff use laptops, instead of desktop computers, and a kill-switch by the front door turns off all power when the office is vacant. There is a full recycling system including a composting and worm farm unit.
“We wonder what else we could do to get the NABERS rating to six stars, as we use so little energy, and we think it may be to do with the low number of staff in the space, as NABERS works on ratios of energy use to staff,” Ms Davidson says.
Paul Davy and Deborah Davidson established dsquared in late 2012 after leaving the Adelaide office of Cundall, Mr Davy as a former chief operating officer and Ms Davidson as a former state manager.
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Lend Lease’s Chatswood site gets a Green Star makeover too
At the other end of the scale, Lend Lease Business Services fitout in Sydney’s Chatswood has also been awarded a 5 Star Green Star – Interiors PILOT rating in a recently updated base building constructed in 1995. The location was chosen because the building had a double-glazed facade that provides good natural light and views, and is also opposite a train station.
The layout of the new space includes activity-based working as well as allocated seating and a 24-hour work zone for Lend Lease’s human resources call centre.
Specific sustainability initiatives included the use of an energy-efficient lighting system during construction, site shed walls made from post-consumer recycled material and 100 per cent certified timber throughout, including furniture.
To maximise indoor air quality, the specifications included high outside air rates through the HVAC system, installing indoor plants, use of low-formaldehyde composite board and low-VOC carpets, paints, sealants and adhesives.
More Green Star Interiors stars to come
Currently, there are a number of other firms that have registered to achieve a Green Star rating under the Green Star Interiors tool. These include a number of industrial facilities, bank branches, educational facilities and retail outlets.