Batesford Hub Interior shot Batesford Community Hub

Clean Green Costs No More than Dirty Brown

Wednesday 3 July, 2013

This article written by Donna Kelly was published on The Fifth Estate - 2 July, 2013.

A sustainable green community building, The Batesford Community Hub, has proven it is possible to build green as cheaply as regular buildings, City of Monash urban design and architecture manager Charles Nilsen told the recent Making Cities Liveable Conference.  Mr Nilsen, along with CETEC marketing and relationship manager Jack Noonan, was speaking on the topic of “a case for healthy, green and affordable community buildings”.

The $6.4 million Batesford Community Hub was opened in 2011 and is used by Monash Youth and Family Services, MonashLink, the University of the Third Age, representatives from Power Neighbourhood House, Amaroo Neighbourhood Centre, Ashwood Ashburton Chadstone Tenants Group and VCAL students from Berengarra Secondary School.

Mr Nilsen said Batesford was a disadvantaged community and the building’s start had come from community engagement.

The Class 9 public building covered 1200 square metres over two levels and the build cost had been $3300 a sq m excluding GST, he said. “It was comparable to other Class 9 buildings and we wanted to prove that green could be done at the same expense.

“It explodes the myth that healthy and green costs more. “This is a high performance, healthy and sustainable community centre.”

Mr Nilsen said the Batesford Community Centre had proven it was possible to integrate high performance indoor environment quality, energy efficiency and conservation of water. “It has been demonstrated that indoor air quality, with natural light, contributes to occupant comfort and a pleasant community space,” he said.

Mr Nilsen said architects had factored in a high level of occupant control, such as opening windows, and had agreed with occupants to build with the use of airconditioning. Daylight had been maximised with summer sun control, there were high level windows, recycled brickwork and thermal chimneys.

Mr Noonan said IEQ assessment had been done before and after occupation, using NABERS protocol, and all levels of indoor air quality, thermal comfort, lighting, acoustic comfort and occupant satisfaction had performed well.  

He said that in a shared space acoustic comfort was an “ongoing battle” but materials to dampen sound had been incorporated into the build. Acoustic comfort was always more difficult to achieve in green buildings, he said, however a CETEC occupant satisfaction survey had come back with a score of 80 per cent satisfied, which put the building in the top 34 per cent of those surveyed.

And improvements could still be made in acoustic comfort and ventilation. Mr Noonan said even a two per cent rise in IEQ-led productivity could lead to a saving of $2000 per staff member a year.

Mr Nilsen said features of the building included:

  • 95,000 litres of rainwater storage for toilets and irrigation, along with topping up evaporative cooling system
  • No west facing windows
  • The entire roof being covered by PV panels for a 13.5 kilowatt system
  •  Double glazing
  •  Low-e glass
  •  Solar tubes
  •  Exposed concrete slab soffit floors
  •  Movement activated energy efficient lighting
  •  Drought tolerant landscape features
  •  Shared paths to encourage walking and cycling
  •  PV panels angled at 20 degrees to eliminate shadows.