Greening a heritage-listed building
How Sydney’s 1891-built Railway Institute Building was refurbished to become the second Heritage-listed building in Australia to achieve a five-star Green Star Office Interiors Rating is revealed by Total Facilities 2012 speaker, CLINTON SQUIRES of Interface.
The Interface head office and showroom is located within the heritage-listed 101 Chalmers Street building in Sydney. The two-storey red brick and sandstone building was constructed in 1891 and is known as the Railway Institute Building. Interface has restored the building to its former glory and turned it into a showcase of environmental sustainability.
Achieving a Green Star rating for the fitout was a top priority. Close attention was also paid to energy, water, indoor environment quality and materials. While maintaining the heritage structure of the building, it was important that all elements were as sustainable as possible. All fabrics used in the interior came from recycled and recyclable materials and Green Star certified products were given preference.
The carpet tiles used throughout the fitout are 100 percent carbon neutral, low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and recyclable. To protect the heritage-listed timber flooring, adhesive stickers rather than traditional glue were used. These stickers allow carpet tiles to be removed, rearranged or changed without negative impact on the flooring beneath.
As the major tenant within the building, we worked closely with the building owner to improve sustainability across the whole of the building, as well as within its fitout. Having involvement and support from the building owner, builder and architects right from the start of the project made delivering a sustainable result much easier.
In an example of the tenant driving sustainable outcomes, the building owner contributed $120,000 to green the base building. We laid out the benefits of owning a more sustainable building, such as improved company profile and reduced environmental footprint. Green buildings make business sense and, once this was clear, the building owner quickly came on board with our vision.
The Green Star-rated fitout has played a significant role in attracting and retaining staff. Staff are very proud of their office and I would go so far as to say that, for many, it is a pleasure to come into work every day.
HOW A GREEN STAR-RATED FITOUT WAS ACHIEVED
All materials used in the fitout were selected to meet the strictest sustainability criteria. These included product durability, so that items don’t have to be replaced as often; eco-preferred content, reducing the environmental impact of procurement practices; product stewardship, so the environmental impacts of products are followed throughout their entire life cycle; and design for disassembly, making it easy to take apart and reuse products elsewhere when they are no longer needed.
Energy efficient light fittings and electrical sub-metering allow the tracking and reduction of energy consumption, as well as assist in identifying target areas where energy cost reductions can be achieved. The landlord also installed ceiling insulation throughout the fitout to improve thermal comfort – a process not typically undertaken in heritage buildings.
Low VOC paint, carpet and sealants were used throughout. All windows within the fitout can be opened for maximum ventilation to improve indoor air quality and contribute to staff productivity and wellbeing.
To ensure the best environmental and economic performance, we contracted an independent commissioning agent to undertake comprehensive commissioning of the building’s services and committed to a 12-month building-tuning program to ensure optimum performance. An extensive building users’ guide was also developed to help staff and facilities managers use the building as it was intended.
Finally, the building is located right next to Sydney’s Central Railway Station, which makes taking public transport to work a breeze. Cycling to work is also encouraged, with bike racks, lockers and change rooms provided for staff.
Clinton Squires serves as senior vice president and managing director for Interface Australia. In this role he is responsible for local manufacturing and marketing activities, with particular focus on organisational development. He joined Interface in 2002, initially serving as general manager of sales and marketing.