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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Moreland City Council
Eco-efficiency in Building Design, Construction and Operation

Moreland City Council is committed to sustainable development and has undertaken a number of cleaner production and eco-efficiency initiatives. Although its new Municipal Offices may look like a purely conventional development, Moreland City Council is proud of the fact the offices has been designed and constructed with a exacting set of environmental criteria which demonstrate the Council's commitment. It is also addressing how to minimise the environmental impacts of running the building

Background

Moreland City Council serves a mixed residential and industrial area of the northern suburbs of Melbourne with a population of around 137,000. It provides a wide range of public services from libraries to waste management.

The Council has a long and active history as a supporter of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and has developed an ESD strategy covering all of its activities. It has been particularly proactive in the area of waste minimisation and recycling in order to reduce quantities of waste going to landfill. It has a major educational programme in schools and promotes waste minimisation in business.

This commitment to ESD is further demonstrated in the recent refurbishment and expansion of the Council's municipal offices at 90 Bell Street in Coburg. In August 1997, the Council began to plan for the amalgamation of two of its separate offices to a single site on Bell Street. A major aspect of this relocation was the design and construction works required to renovate and expand the excisting office building at Coburg. The Council was committed to incorporating ecologically sustainable development principles into the design and construction phases of this project, as well as the subsequent operational phase of the building. The Council was particularly focused on contributing to "best practice" in energy efficiency and sustainable resource management. A primary aim was to double the office floor space while simultaneously reducing total energy consumption. In addition to providing a demonstration of environmental best practice, The Council was determined that the building serve the community well, was attractively designed, and displayed art and landscape works for all to enjoy. The new Moreland municipal offices have achieved each of these broad project aims. The Civic Centre Redevelopment Project (Stage One) was nominated for Best Specific Environmental Initiative in the UN Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards 2000.

While the building in itself is an important achievement, a new challenge lies in minimising the impact from the day to day running of the building which houses 300 staff. 

Cleaner production and eco-efficiency initiatives

The building was designed to minimise short and long term resource use without significant compromises to the physical comfort provided or the Council's ability to complete its tasks. 

One of the initial key decisions contributing to the overall sustainability of the project was the decision to retain some of the excisting building and to re-build on the original municipal office site. In addition, materials from the dismantling of the excisting building were recovered and reused whenever possible. Environmental benefits flowing from this decision include reductions in embodied energy and resultant decreases in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other savings in energy and materials.

Considerations and initiatives during each phase of the development and in operations were as follows:

Building design

Construction

The specifications for concept development and design of the project required the selected contractor to utilise "best practice" environment/conservation and health and safety standards in all aspects of design and construction. The preferred option, submitted by Burns Bridge Australia, incorporated the broad environmental requirements of the brief. Environmental features integrated into Burns Bridge Australia's project design include:

Solar pergola

Views of the Solar Pergola

Solar pergola

Views of the Solar Pergola

In December 1997, Burns Bridge was appointed as the project manager. Companies tendering for work were required to complete a tender form that requested evidence of their commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as examples of work practices which demonstrated sensitivity to community issues and local economic development. Tender applications were assessed by Burns Bridge against a total of six weighted criteria, one of which was environmental awareness. A specialist environmental sustainability consultant was employed in the early stages of the design process by the Burns Bridge team in order to provide advice on environmentally sustainable building design, construction issues and products.

A life cycle assessment approach was taken with regard to the materials chosen for use in the project. Sustainable alternative materials were sought and selected for incorporation into the building whenever possible (a requirement that was met with significant difficulty in some instances). For example, Council specified that only plantation or recycled timber was to be used; however, it became apparent that there was no Australian made veneer which could be guaranteed to be sourced from plantations. As a result, a decision was made to use a "New Age" veneer produced in Italy which was supported by extensive data regarding its environmental credentials.

Operation

Energy efficiency

Analysis of past energy bills indicated the original building utilised over 1400 kilowatt-hours per day - this is more than four times more than the amount specified in the Building Owners and Manager Associations (BOMA) good practice guidelines. There was therefore a definite opportunity for very large energy savings. Measures implemented to improve energy efficiency include:

Indoor lighting:

Heating/Cooling

Windows and Doors

Solar Panels

Waste management

Since 1999, a number of initiatives have been put in place including the following:

Separated bins in kitchen for recyclable waste and compost: Kitchen areas contain separate bins for recycling of bottles and cans and milk cartons and   for the collection of organic matter for composting.

Worm farm for Council staff food waste: In 2000 the Council installed an 800 L capacity worm farm at the Coburg Offices. Food from the staff kitchens and function areas, lawn clippings and leaves from the gardens are taken to the worm farm where it is digested by 20,000 worms. The worms have proved a hit with staff, lunchtime worm farm information sessions for staff have been very popular, with staff reporting back that they have set up their own worm farm or compost bin at home.

worms

Moreland City Council staff meet worms

Staff Buy Recycled Working Group and Buy Recycled policy: The Council is a member of the Local Government Buy Recycling Alliance and has recently developed a Buy Recycled Policy - to guide the future purchasing of products. The working group, comprising of members of staff from across the Council has three smaller project teams working on buying recycled office paper, office products and engineering products.

Looking at paper - Use and Reuse! The Green Paper Challenge was issued to all staff on Waste Wise Day 29 March 2001. The challenge consisted of an email message mailed to all staff that issued a challenge to print and photocopy on both sides, make a notepad from reused paper or use the screen to read emails. Staff who accepted the challenge went into the draw to win a mystery waste wise prize! The challenge continues.

Office Paper Audit: The Council is a heavy user of paper, using around 500 reams a month. It has had office paper recycling bins for a number of years. However there has long been a feeling that they are sometimes used as second garbage bins for office paper. An audit was carried out of the office paper bins - proving that the assumptions were in many cases accurate - only 35% of the contents of the bin was office paper - newspaper, cardboard and other materials making up the remainder. Of the 35% of the bin that was office paper - 82% of the office paper was printed on one side only! 17% printed on both sides and 1% not printed on at all - highlighting the need for a renewed focus on promoting paper reuse. The Council plans to continue the Green Paper Challenge and provide a Make your own recycled notebook kit to all staff - consisting of a reusable cover made from 100% recycled plastic, reusable binder, tips for paper reuse and information on location of paper binding machines within the office.

Staff Education: Staff education is essential to the process and  a number activities have taken place. The Council's Staff newsletter - The Insider has proved to be an invaluable tool for communicating with staff about waste reduction and buying recycled. Timing of promotions and activities have taken advantage of events such as World Environment Day, National Recycling Week and Waste Wise Day. As a 'paper free' communication tool email provides new opportunities for spreading the 'green' message around the office.

Benefits 

The new building has generated a number of actual and potential benefits, direct and indirect. The main direct benefits have been financial savings from improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. especially reduced contribution to greenhouse emissions compared to a conventional building. Detailed figures on energy savings are not yet available. However, the Council has commissioned consultants to undertake a retrospective case study of the project. The consultants have interviewed parties that participated throughout the process and analysed various sources of information in order to report on the successes and barriers of integrating ESD principles into the project. The case study  is designed to assist the Council in implementing similar future projects, as well as external parties who wish to undertake similar projects in the future. A key focus of this case study is a cost benefit analysis to gauge the short term and long term financial implications of integrating ESD principles into the project.

The building has potential wider, indirect benefits, especially in promoting ESD in the community and beyond by providing leadership in the local and broader community to encourage others to integrate ESD principles into future projects. The Council is confident that it has contributed significantly to best practice in environmental sustainable development in Victoria and Australia generally. The Council planned from the outset of the project to integrate community education materials/displays into the interior design of the building. A set of informative signs detailing specific initiatives to support ESD will be placed throughout the building. These signs are being designed to effectively highlight the specific ESD initiatives integrated into the building. The signs will form an "education trail" for visitors to follow when visiting the building to promote awareness of ESD principles.

The benefits of the waste minimisation initiatives are still being quantified although they are expected to be significant given the relatively low levels of reuse and recycling at the start, the high paper usage especially and the scope for savings. The initial waste audit has  established baseline data and monitoring  and audits will be carried out to measure improvements.

Barriers

After overcoming initial scepticism and concerns about perceived extra costs, the new building project has enjoyed a high level of support from staff and the community.

For the waste project staff have been positive but barriers to overcome have been changing habits and attitudes, and technical barriers such as the large range of printing and copying machines, not all of which can do double sided or handle recycled paper.

Incentives

The initiatives described in this case study have been part of Moreland City Council's commitment to ESD and have been driven by aims of environmental protection and leading by example in and influencing the wider community, as well as by cost and functional considerations.

Further developments

In 2001 The Council  reached an agreement with Citipower to source 100 percent of its contestable energy from "green power". As a result, 100 percent of the energy requirements for the Bell Street office will be sourced from sustainable energy generation which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does this commitment further contribute to the building's overall sustainability, The Council hopes that it will be successful in encouraging others in the community to choose sustainable practices and renewable energy sources whenever possible.

The case study described here is one of many environmental initiatives by the Council. One initiative, documented in a case by EcoRecycle Victoria, has been to minimise waste generation from the Council's Meals on Wheels Service (www.ecorecycle.vic.gov.au). This initiative has been on hold following contractor and other changes.

Contact

Richard Jennings, Team leader, Conservation (building and energy issues)
Kellie Watson, Litter and Waste Education Officer (waste management issues)
Moreland City Council
Locked Bag 10
Moreland VIC 3068
Phone: 61 3 9240 1167 (Richard Jennings) or 9240 1173 (Kellie Watson) 
Fax:  61 3 9240 1205
Email: rjennings@moreland.vic.gov.au or kwatson@moreland.vic.gov.au or
Internet: www.moreland.vic.gov.au

Date of implementation: 1996-2001
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing.
Case study prepared: June 2001 by Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production, Curtin University of Technology
Date last modified: July 2001