Innovation meets sustainability: Inside UTS’ six-star green rated building
Penelope Dalla, PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Health: The new building is very light and airy. It has these beautiful large windows from our office we can see onto the green.
Professor Liz Harry, Deputy Director UTS iThree Institute: It's a very green building. It has this beautiful garden, rooftop garden which I think matters when you're a scientist in the lab looking at the bench you actually it's nice to look outside aswell.
Alice Shires, Director UTS Psychology Clinic: I like very much the auditorium, I love the green colour. I think is tremendously kinda cozy and everyone has something to say about it so probably that's my favourite, and possibly the curly stairs going up which is rather beautiful.
My favorite space in the building is a corridor actually, it's generating a lot of discussions. The light is beautiful, it looks really modern, it's really encouraging our interactions.
Professor Liz Harry: This new facility excites me a lot because the greatest love I have is scientific research and UTS is now invested in doubling that capacity.
Atilla Brungs, UTS Vice Chancellor: I think is building is almost like an exclamation mark of the strength UTS now has in it's science and its health research. Like all the new UTS buildings, its visually striking its kinda energetic and dynamic.
Alice Shires: But I think that having the Graduate School of Health and Science sitting together in a way in the same building certainly means that it sets the kinda tone of the building and it it gives an atmosphere that being really a sort of center of excellence for the sciences and the Health Sciences
Professor Liz Harry: So having a two together mains that we can do bigger and better things and address all the issues around a problem rather than just one little piece of it.
Professor Bruce Milthorpe, Dean Faculty of Science: Cross disciplinary collaboration is important because the world runs holistically and now the problems that we need to deal with are holistic problems.
Professor Charlie Benrimoj, Head Graduate School of Health: In the building we have the research lab right next to offices, right next to PhDs desks next to post grad compounds, and what we saying is the movement from one space to another is seamless. So that's encouraging I think better research because we can actually get together as groups, we can see what's happening in the lab it's giving us a research culture.
Penelope Dalla: These new labs we have are state of the art. They have all brand new equipment that has been provided for us. New instruments are more sensitive. They're going to increase the calibre of our work. What motivates me to get up and out of bed every day is that my research has such impact.
Joshua Benitez-Castellanos, Bachelor of Science: Learning in the super lab has been one of the most amazing experiences at the Uni so far. I think it's the atmosphere that they have in the super lab that excites me the most. You walk in and you've got that... it's a different type of air that you can actually breathe.
The super lab is a very interesting space. We designed it so that we would have multiple groups of students not doing the same experiment but different experiments from different classes.
Joshua Benitez-Castellanos: Sometimes you take a peek and you can look at what you gonna be doing in the next class in that subject and it also adds that bit of "oh I want to do that next!"
Alice Shires: Well the psychology clinic is designed to provide several purposes. It does provide a service to the communities but it also serves a purpose to providing an environment for students to learn the skills of clinical psychologists in a safe supervised way.
The Graduate School as a strategy has adopted problem-based learning. What that means is that instead of having your traditional lecture where information just given to the students. The students actually acquire the information themselves and we help them think through that information, analyze it, evaluated it, apply it.
Alice Shires: The classrooms are designed such that they can work in groups the same subject could be explored from different angles.
When I walk through the building and I see students hard at work engaged simply because they are enjoying what they do. It really, really makes me feel proud.
Professor Liz Harry: In the next five years I think you know watch this space because there is a lot more potential in UTS and I know that industry sees UTS as an easy group to work with. That's a lovely thing because I think it's important that research actually delivers solutions to problems that we have and that's always the UTS motto.
Since the first classes began in February 2015, the UTS Science and Graduate School of Health building has cemented itself as an iconic part of the UTS City Campus.
With its distinct curves that lean and bend, allowing maximum sunlight to reach the Alumni Green, and its unique 700 colourful box-style windows, ‘CB07’ is a draw card for both science and architecture lovers.
The $1.2 billion investment by UTS to transform its city buildings into a vibrant city campus appears to be working. To date UTS has received over 12 prizes and awards for design, sustainability and building innovation. Half of these accolades have been for the UTS Science and Graduate School of Health building, including the 2015 NSW Government ‘Green Globe Award’ (opens an external site) and the inaugural ‘National Award for Educational Architecture’ by the Australian Institute of Architects.
Creating a building that was both practical and striking was important for UTS, but it was sustainability that really drove the designing and planning process.
UTS worked with architects Durbach Block Jaggers and Bligh Voller Nield, as well as sustainable engineers Steensen Varming, to create a highly green building. The building is only the 9th university building in Australia to be awarded a six-star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, and 2nd in NSW to achieve this certification.
What is a Green Star rating?
Buildings assessed using the ‘Green Star’ performance rating tool can achieve a Green Star rating between one and six. A 5-star rating signifies ‘Australian Excellence’ but a 6-star rating signifies ‘World Leadership.’ The Green Building Council of Australia assesses the sustainability of education buildings on features like:
- energy and water efficiency
- indoor environment quality
- efficient external lighting
- transport design and planning
- potable water use in laboratories
- organic waste bins supplied to every workstation
- recycled content & reused products and materials.
Attaining the highest green-star rating is a significant achievement, especially for known ‘energy hogs’ like science faculties. Experiments being conducted by students and researchers daily mean a constant supply of power to laboratories, as well as back-up power, are imperative. There is also the supply of multiple different types of water and gases for laboratory and research use, making it much more challenging for a science building to achieve the green star rating. Nonetheless, the 6 star-green rating for ‘CB07’ proves that sustainability does not have to come at the cost of functionality.
Sustainability considered from start to finish
The timber used to construct the building was either re-used or recycled. Where it was not possible to source recycled materials, both timber and steel were sourced from environmentally responsible manufacturers. Green concrete was also used with a proportion of cement substituted with flyash (a waste product from power stations).
Almost 98 per cent of the waste (opens an image) accumulated during the site excavation and building construction was recycled, all adding up to achieving the 6-star green rating for sustainability.
Inside the building, an impressive concrete spiral staircase is surrounded by thousands of pastel mosaic tiles. Natural light (opens an image) from the skylight at the top of the stairs bounces off the tiles, reflecting light even below ground level. In fact, natural light is abundant throughout the whole building. Where artificial light is needed you will only find energy efficient LED and T5 lighting with zoning and controls—no draining halogen downlights here! (Note T5s are fluorescent and quite efficient).
Students and staff will often take the stairs instead of the lift with its position, size and design all strategic to encourage people out of the lifts and up, or down, the stairs where possible. It’s not only better for the environment and our waist lines, but also reduces energy costs.
Green energy technologies save resources and costs
On level 7, a green roof (opens an image) provides a recreational space, which was also included to help insulate the building, improve air quality, and absorb, filter and clean stormwater run-off.
Higher up, the level 8 roof-top boasts solar hot water technology and a “living lab” where students can conduct tree research and access data from meters and sensors that monitor indoor air quality.
Rainwater is captured (opens an image), treated and re-used to supply water to the building’s toilets, green roof and for landscaping. This saves over 3,000 litres (opens an image) of drinking water every day, the equivalent of over 400 plastic bottles of water or 300 toilet flushes!
For employees in particular, details like the abundant supply of indoor plants, including pots gifted to staff to celebrate the building’s opening, and the organic waste bins suppled to every workstation, make it not just a sustainable building, but a building where acting sustainably is supported and encouraged.