Federation Square (Fed Square) in Melbourne is on track to be carbon neutral by the end of the year – an outcome its designers and managers have looked towards since the original design foundations were laid.

Since 2008, Fed Square has saved approximately 89 million litres of water , increased recycling by 73 per cent, reduced electricity consumption by over 4.1 million kilowatts, and reduced gas consumption by over 12,000 gigajoules.

Carbon output substantially decreased from 9456 tonnes in 2010 to just 804 tonnes in December 2013, with the figure to turn to zilch by the end of 2014.

For a multifaceted precinct that hosts major public events, complex infrastructure, cultural institutions and a range of commercial operations, Fed Square CEO Chris Brooks says the achievement was not easy, but absolutely possible.

He attributes the success to the original sustainable design of Fed Square, which had provided a strong and enduring platform for the introduction of a successful carbon neutral program through close collaboration with the 30 businesses on site, partners and public stakeholders.

For instance, beneath the Square, a concrete labyrinth holds a 1.4km passive cooling system that is designed to cool The Atrium, Deakin Edge, and some public areas during summer, and to supplement heating during winter.

Other design features include double glazing on external windows, a sleep mode for escalators, variable speed drives on A/C pumps and a hermetic seal in The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, which reduces air conditioning requirements by over 50 per cent.

Behind the Scenes Tour of Federation Square Melbourne from Federation Square on Vimeo.

The precinct today has its own comprehensive environmental management plan that underpins its daily operations. This guide focuses on the delivery of environmental sustainability measures across six categories – water, waste, energy, air, noise and landscaping – and included:

  • Installation of water tanks
  • Upgrade works to the Cooling Towers to improve water efficiency
  • Installation of a rainwater filtration system in the Fed Square Car Park
  • Installation of waterless urinals and AAA showerheads
  • Implementation of commingle and paper recycling across the site
  • Introduction of organic recycling across the site with a bio-gas plant
  • Installation of thermal energy meters to monitor air conditioning usage
  • Installation of sensor lighting in key areas
  • Purchase of Green Energy for all events in The Square, Fed Square offices and the Fed Square Car Park
  • Tenant education and awareness of water efficient devices.

Taking up 3.8 hectares, Fed Square includes three buildings, the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, the Cinemedia Centre, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Images. It was designed by LAB + Bates Smart Architects and features a series of interlocking and cascading spaces influenced by the idea of ‘Federation’; bringing disparate parts to form a coherent whole. It sees an average of 10 million visits a year.

The carbon footprint of Fed Square is externally audited, with the team expectant that carbon neutrality will boost the promotion of sustainability in Victoria and Australia.