The 2013 BPN Sustainability Awards winners have been announced, with Lifestyle Working Collins Street by nettletontribe taking home the best prize in Large Commercial design.

Combining architectural vision and creative planning with community responsibility, commercial functionality and environmental sustainability, this project has challenged current conventions in modern office building design.

“The level of innovations is borne out of the desire to re-think standard and how we deliver services, in a flexible, efficient and enabling manner,” said Michael Morgan of nettletontribe.

As the first and only 5 Star Green Star commercial strata building, Lifestyle Working Collins Street is also the first building to strata title solar panels, directly attaching them to specific office suites as a way of supplying energy for each office’s operations.

A solar farm was introduced on the building’s rooftop, with solar strata lots subsequently sold to occupants. This solar energy supports the efficiency per strata lot for maximum long term value for all tenants.

In addition to the 64 1.5kW ‘solar lots’, which provide the power to run linked offices during daylight hours, over 540 250w solar panels are used to run up to an estimated 100 per cent of the base building’s energy needs.

This new initiative will work to reduce overall operating costs, making the building more economical to run with direct financial benefits flowing back to the owners and tenants of the individual suites with ‘solar lots’.

The strata title solar panels join a variety of other ecological and environmental initiatives, including natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, and passive energy solutions.

Individual suites within the building are encased in two simple rectangular forms with a central street, while the long axis of each block is orientated north-south to maximise solar access and natural daylight.

Each suite also has cross ventilation to withstand the extensive heat loads of the Melbourne summer, while providing fresh indoor air quality.

These strategies are reinforced by an optimum temperature control option for individuals, which can lead to increased cost advantages while minimising environmental impact.

While these initiatives serve to provide more comfort and choice for the building’s occupants at lower running and maintenance costs, many of the incorporated additional features were not picked up in the standard sustainable building ratings.

One example is the pool of electric scooters that are made available, free of charge, to all occupants.

These scooters can be used by workers who need to attend inner-city meetings. At the same time, the availability of transport on the development’s doorstep influenced the decision to not provide parking.

"Lifestyle Workling Collins Street sets a new benchmark for affordable strata office accomodation in Melbourne, and takes innovations and space efficiencies to a whole new level," said Victoria Harbour project director, Claire Johnston of Lend Lease, which developed the site in collaboration with the Stable Group.

Undeniably, Lifestyle Working Collins Street’s achievements and innovative solutions have resulted in a truly sustainable business model that is applicable to many large commercial projects.

“This building sets a new benchmark for strata commercial buildings as it incorporates many sustainable design features, becoming the first commercial strata building to achieve a 5 Star Green Star rating – a remarkable achievement,” noted the BPN jury.

Photography by Peter Bennetts and Emma Cross