The University of Newcastle’s Q Building has become the first building in regional NSW to achieve a 6 Star Green Star ‘Design and As Built’ certified rating.
A world-leading status, this is the highest rating awarded by Green Star, which is an internationally recognised rating system founded by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) in 2003.
Classes have begun at the $25 million building which officially opens later this year.
A key aspect of the build was mass timber construction. While the building features a concrete core, its remaining internal structure was built using sustainably sourced cross-laminated timber, much of which is visible from outside the building.
It is the first multi-storey timber building in Newcastle with the biophilic design creating a feeling of being in nature.
The timber structure captures carbon, rather than producing it, creating minimal waste and supporting the HVAC system to moderate humidity inside the building.
The central design intent for the building was to maintain transparency but this created challenges to ensure those insides were comfortable from a heat and weather perspective.
To overcome this challenge, the three sides of the building which have the highest exposure to the sun (east, north and west) have been glazed with an electro-chromic smart-glass system called Sage Glass, which automatically changes its tint to respond to heat and glare.
The glass thermal panels are the biggest installation in the southern hemisphere.
Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky said that the university set out to achieve a 6-Star building by 2025.
“The Q Building puts us well in advance of the targets in our sustainability plan which includes being carbon neutral by 2025,” he said.
GBCA CEO, Davina Rooney, said innovation was at the core of the project from the outset.
“It certainly sets the benchmark for future developments of this kind,” she said.