Wollongong City Council’s Administration Building has become the first building in Australia to get a 5 Star Green Star – Performance rating.

The 13-storey building has introduced a range of building upgrades and management practices to improve sustainability performance, including lighting and HVAC upgrades, heat reflective blinds, water efficiency devices and rainwater harvesting, leading to energy efficiency gains of 55 per cent and water efficiency gains of 85 per cent.

Energy efficiency gains alone in the building are saving $200,000 in electricity costs a year compared with 2007-2008 consumption, council estimates.

“This is not just about gaining financial sustainability but ensuring that we have an efficient building that will consume less water and electricity, reduce the waste it generates and emissions it releases and also provide an enjoyable and healthy workplace for our staff,” Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

“We have been able to retrofit an ageing building – remember it is coming up to 30 years old – to achieve these significant reductions.

“This demonstrates that you can gain a 5 Star Green Star rating with an ageing building if you use the right methods and programs. We have shown that this pathway to sustainability could be used by other local governments or government agencies.

“We have also shown that we can gain a rating comparable to brand spanking new buildings that are purpose-designed to achieve 5 or 6 Star Green Star ratings.”

The council is currently developing a sustainable building strategy to guide operational sustainability improvements of existing buildings, in addition to how new buildings will be designed, constructed and operated.