Melbourne’s newest office space at 276 Flinders Street has received a 5-Star Green Star rating, setting a new benchmark in sustainability.

The new commercial building located at the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth Streets in Melbourne, is a five-storey, 4000-square-metre second tower. What makes the building stand out is the use of an innovative structural solution featuring a lightweight movement-resistant steel frame, timber flooring and double-glazed glass walls.

The new building meets the highest in environmental standards, reaching a 5-Star Green Star rating by using low environmental impact building materials compared to standard construction.

Only steel has been used to construct the building’s foundations, with no concrete used in the process. According to this study, steel uses 25 per cent less total CO2 emissions and 68 per cent less total natural resources, making it a better and a more sustainable building material.

Observing that the use of lightweight fully-ductile steel grid framing and cross laminated timber was a relatively new approach to commercial building, managing director of commercial property investor, Fivex, Lesli Berger said that they wanted to use this more environment-friendly solution, both at the build stage and over the building’s lifetime to maximise positive outcomes in their developments. For the second tower, they set the sustainability bar higher to target a 5-Star Green Star rating.

Fivex’s commitment to more sustainable outcomes in their developments extended beyond the construction and through most parts of the building. In addition to the environmental benefits gained by cutting out concrete in the design, the building has achieved ongoing sustainability gains through initiatives such as water recycling and natural ventilation.

Some of these initiatives include the use of harvested rainwater for flushing toilets and bin washdowns; openable windows on each floor to allow natural ventilation and minimise the need for air-conditioning; high performance double-glazed windows with thermally improved metal frames; high levels of thermal insulation; high efficiency LED lighting systems with advanced controls; and efficiency controls for lighting and HVAC systems throughout the common areas.

Lead architect for the project, Murray Brassington of Baldasso Cortese says the sustainability design elements assisted in delivering a contemporary space that had a light and airy feel.

Since the new office is connected to the existing tower at each level, it benefits from the larger than expected floor-to-floor heights as well as extra ceiling height and perimeter floor-ceiling windows , giving it a ‘New York’ feel.

Multiplex’s unconventional approach to building in this project also meant that the build was completed much quicker and with less disruption than traditional construction. The builder was able to cut traditional construction time by half with the lightweight structural solution.