Sustainable Buildings Research Centre – University of Wollongong by Cox Richardson
Sustainable Architecture: National Commendation
Australian Institute of Architects
The University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) is commended for integrating ecological and social initiatives. It creates a workshop environment that supports experimental research leading to readily adoptable innovation. Designed to achieve certification with the Living Building Challenge, the building aims to be water, energy and carbon neutral. It includes measures such as power supplied from the rooftop photovoltaic array, a micro-grid distribution system, supplementary heating or cooling integrated with passive systems provided through an energy-efficient ground source heat pump connected to an in-slab hydronic system, water supplied by harvested rainwater, treated blackwater, edible gardens, the extensive use of recycled materials and healthy work environments with green walls filtering the air. The point of difference at Wollongong is that some of these systems use prototypes not yet tested. It challenges current thinking about sustainable research and how educational buildings are designed, occupied and operated.
The jury found the “plug-and-play” approach to experimental technologies to be refreshing. The building can be continually experimented with and new inventions can be developed and “plugged in” for testing. The commitment to community engagement was evident in the client’s focus on partnering with industry and the broader community. The building’s welcoming, educational role is supported through exposure of the mechanics of sustainability as well as through its training, partnering, exhibition and event spaces.