Green universities and learning environments are growing, and are proactively implementing design and architecture that is environmentally responsible. Sustainable trends seen in workspaces are behind this influence. Students have recognized their contribution to the environment through recycling and reducing their carbon footprint—and they expect their educational institutions to also address this issue.
When RMIT University (officially the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) based in Melbourne, Victoria, wanted to design the Swanston Academic Building (SAB), students and academic staff were consulted to gather information about their current and future learning and teaching methodologies and how spaces could be designed to could enhance these activities.
Lyons, a Melbourne-based architecture firm, was commissioned to project manage the entire $600 million SAB development. The building was fully modeled in 3D prior to construction, as it would have been impossible to build it without one. From exciting environmental features like a high-performance exterior façade, which collects grey water for treatment and reuse, to the installation of fluorescent lamps and LEDs, which consume almost a third less energy than incandescent lamps, the 11-storey structure is bright, engaging and has accelerated the design and architectural opportunities in environmental, social and technological connectivity.
Where possible, raw and sustainable materials have been used in the building process. In terms of design, the building encourages students to explore the indoor/outdoor boundaries with an impressive green space and balcony area installed on the seventh floor that overlooks bustling Victoria Street. Lecture rooms are designed to be interactive.
Completed a remarkable six months ahead of schedule, the landmark SAB building has earned a Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA. The project is also expected to achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in partnership with the Australian Technology Network, and 20% of its electricity will be purchased from Green Power.