The use of sustainable materials in modern Australian building construction is no longer a negotiable. Structurally efficient buildings that maximise resources and make the most of usable space now have an essential role to play in creating green cities that citizens can use now and into the future.
Steel lends itself to clever and innovative design applications by virtue of its high strength-to-weight ratio, meaning lighter foundations and structures can be delivered. The inherent versatility of steel and steel connections means steel-framed buildings can be modified and extended to suit the demands of users. And steel offers efficiencies long after a building has been completed because it delivers exceptional advantages in terms of building maintenance and operation.
Proving that steel is the sustainable building material of choice for modern builders, each of the following Australian projects has been lauded for its use of sustainable materials and best-practice construction methods. Each has received at least a 5 Star Green Star Design and/or As Built rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and all have utilised structural steel as a credit towards that recognition.
Here are just a few exceptional examples of the way in which steel has been used to propel innovation and sustainability in construction.
Article published on Wednesday, 03 October 2018
5 MARTIN PLACE SYDNEY
When it was first constructed a century ago, the iconic Commonwealth Bank ‘Money Box’ building was among the first in the world to use an advanced structural steel frame. Faced with the need to preserve the building’s heritage, architects Johnson Pilton Walker in association with Tanner Kibble Denton architects employed a number of clever design solutions, including a cantilever over the original building that supports the new tower above.
Engineers Aurecon devised a V-shaped brace on all four sides of the new tower, with the result that the structure stands alone, without loads on the heritage building. The design reduced the number of steel members to be erected and allowed for a number of member types to be used. The major compression elements were changed to concrete-filled steel tubes, which meant concrete was used to resist approximately 80 per cent of the load, while retaining the erection advantages of steel.
The result is a masterpiece of revitalisation that has picked up a swag of awards, including the Australian Steel Institute Award for Steel Excellence in Buildings – Large Projects, and, most recently, the RLB Australian Development of the Year for 2017. Not only have original materials and elements such as the central atrium been beautifully recreated or re-imagined, the building succeeds in showing that a traditional building can be modernised with 21st century functionality and 5 Star Green Star sustainability.
(Image courtesy of Cbus Property)
KATHMANDU DISTRIBUTION MELBOURNE
New Zealand travel goods supplier Kathmandu has utilised a sustainability-focused design framework for its retail tenancies in recent years, so it makes sense that its national distribution centre should follow suit.
One of the first few 5 Star Green Star Industrial buildings in Victoria, the new 25,000sqm centre features high-efficiency picking and packing technology that allows Kathmandu to sort and send individual items at high volume directly to its 115 stores nationwide, as well as to domestic and international online customers.
But it’s the building itself that impresses on every level. Ninety-five per cent of steel in the building structure was produced using energy-reducing processes, with fabricator Page Steel supplying a proportion of high-grade (400) welded sections to the project.
It was also built to withstand extreme weather conditions, with floor levels raised to avoid severe flooding events and high-strength roofing installed that can withstand high winds. The large-span shed has large box guttering and wide piping to drain high volumes of rainwater, which can then be harvested for use in toilets and irrigation. Plus, the building features a 100kw solar panel array and intelligent LED lighting systems that switch on and off as needed.
According to asset manager Dexus, Kathmandu’s new distribution centre is three times the size of the building previously on the site, but has an equivalent power bill.
(Image courtesy of Qanstruct)
ONE FIFTY COLLINS MELBOURNE
ONE FIFTY Collins blends elements of old and new Melbourne in a building with excellent sustainability credentials and provides a flexible and inspiring working environment for its tenants.
Located between Scots’ Church and The Assembly Hall on Melbourne’s most prestigious street, the building is a composite structure with reinforced concrete framing from basement level 3 to ground level and a steel-framed structure from ground level to roof level. Approximately 1300 tonnes of structural steel was used in the building, which preserves the heritage-listed façade of Melbourne’s first multi-deck car park built in 1938. Westpac Banking Corporation is the building’s anchor tenant and occupies levels 5–12.
Awarded Best Sustainable Building at the 2016 Victorian Master Builder Awards, ONE FIFTY Collins utilises underfloor air conditioning with complete tenant control. It also features a gas-fired cogeneration plant that generates its own power on-site using natural gas and water storage and re-use systems to maximise water savings.
(Image courtesy of GPT Group)
ONE MCNAB AVENUE MELBOURNE
The One McNab Avenue development in Footscray forms part of the Victorian government’s revitalisation initiative for Melbourne’s inner-west and houses the new headquarters for City Water West and the State Trustees.
The building is unique for the challenges that needed to be overcome in its construction. Though originally conceived in concrete, the building was converted to a primarily steel construction at an early stage. The original structural design incorporated international building standards that weren’t covered under the Australian Standards, and a passive structural solution had to be found to prevent structural collapse in a fire or emergency situation.
Grocon Technical Design Manager John Beattie told the Australian Steel Institute (ASI) that the use of structural steel in the building granted it numerous advantages. The structure consists of thin composite slab and steel beams, composite columns and in situ core walls, with the use of structural steel allowing for reduced construction time, a lighter floor structure and reduced onsite deliveries as a result of offsite fabrication.
The achievement merited the building receiving the Australian Institute of Steel Award in the large building projects category in 2014.
(Image courtesy of John Gollings)
TOSHIBA WAREHOUSE SYDNEY
The Toshiba Warehouse in Sydney’s Quarry Estate is the company’s new 12,520sqm national distribution centre. As well as providing new office accommodation for the Japanese conglomerate, it incorporates a technical support area for advanced training and product servicing of Toshiba equipment used in the health sector.
Of note is the fact that the warehouse has been designed to allow for a complete expansion of the office space at a later stage with little or no disruption to facility operations.
The warehouse is an excellent example of an industrial facility built to attain high sustainability standards. Builder Qanstruct set out to achieve a 5 Star Green Star Industrial Design & As Built rating for the building and specified the use of high-grade steel to that end. Liberty OneSteel Steel Centre supplied approximately eight hundred tonnes of steel product, of which 25 per cent was high-grade hot rolled structural steel – 700WB and 800WB (welded beam) steel was supplied in grade 400, while Liberty OneSteel 610UB and 410UB (universal beam) steel was supplied in Grade 350. The use of a defined portion of higher-grade structural steel meant the project received a ‘Life Cycle Impacts – Steel’ credit towards its Green Star rating.
Toshiba has invested in a ‘multi-shuttle’ sorting system at the warehouse, which also houses a 10m-high pallet storage system with capacity for 5800 pallets. In a strategic move, Toshiba has incorporated third party logistics provider AirRoad under the same roof.
(Image courtesy of Toshiba)