Hodge Collard Preston Architects (HCPA) and AECOM have designed the first public building to recieve a  6 Star Green Star – Public Building Design v1 rating in Australia, setting a new benchmark for the sustainable design of public buildings in the country.

The Western Australian City of Gosnells’ Mills Park community facility was assessed with the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Green Star – Public Building v1 rating design tool.

GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew acknowledged the City of Gosnells’ leadership, which set a new benchmark for local governments around Australia, and showcased the economic, social and environmental benefits of green building.

AECOM’s sustainability lead for the project, Michael Thompson explained that a practical approach to sustainability was pivotal to the rating, with the City incorporating a large number of low-cost initiatives into the building.

According to Thompson, the design team avoided trying to force expensive and over-engineered systems into the project, instead opting for initiatives that had synergy with the community facility.

The facility uses low-energy LED lighting and will have a smart, responsive air conditioning system. A 30 kilowatt solar array, capable of generating up to 15 per cent of the building’s electricity requirement annually has also been installed. AECOM’s design team came up with a building featuring efficiencies that could save the City of Gosnells up to $145,000 a year in running costs.

Responding to public demand, the City now has plans to improve the ecological state of Mills Park. Focus areas include rehabilitating the degraded wetland area, regenerating the habitat, encouraging endangered or threatened species to move back, and remediating contaminated areas.

Additionally, local watercourses such as the Canning River and Yule Brook will be protected by an extensive stormwater treatment system. With an aim to restore the parkland to a better ecological state than it has ever been, native, drought-resistant plantings will form the basis for all landscaping, protecting Mills Park from the dry Western Australian climate. The City has also selected toilets, taps and showers with very high water efficiencies and combined the irrigation and toilet flushing systems with a 50,000-litre rainwater reuse system, reducing annual water consumption by up to 70 percent.

Continuing with the sustainable design principles, existing site resources will be used to reduce the consumption of new materials in the construction, and locally manufactured materials and products will be used wherever possible to reduce transport-to-site emissions and promote local economic stimulus.

Construction is set to begin this month.