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Sustainability is a core goal for RMIT and as such the NAS project has been designed to ensure that resources provide long-term value and that our campuses are vibrant, accessible and innovative. RMIT is committed to developing buildings and facilities that are designed to meet high standards of energy and water efficiency, whilst reducing our carbon emissions and encouraging responsible behaviours.

NAS will be stellar when it comes to setting sustainability benchmarks. Aiming for 5 stars it will be one of the first educational facilities be rated under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Interiors (pilot) tool. This ‘As-Built’ rating requires the project so evidence the sustainable attributes of interior fit-outs ‘to create engaging and productive spaces with a low environmental impact’.

Sustainability features of the project

Giving existing buildings new life

The biggest sustainability feature of the NAS project is transforming buildings from the ’60s that were designed to face away from Swanston Street and to reconnect them with the city. The NAS development cuts in laneways, multiple-height spaces and light wells to reinvigorate the buildings and to re-purpose them into engaging learning spaces. One of the strongest examples of this adaptive reuse is the new student portals in Building 10, which have reused the old double storey lecture theatres and changed them into vibrant tiered study spaces.

Mixed Mode and Natural Ventilation

Some spaces within NAS will be served by ‘mixed-mode’ conditioning to reduce the energy consumption of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. When the outdoor conditions are appropriate, louvers and windows on the façade will be opened by the automated building management system to allow natural ventilation of the space. During these times, the HVAC systems are switched off. New laneway spaces will be naturally ventilated to further reduce energy consumption and provide comfortable ‘microclimates’ for people to enjoy the Melbourne lifestyle. Read more here.

Low impact materials

Fit-out items (such as furniture, joinery, plasterboard and flooring) will be carefully selected to reduce the development’s environmental impact and most will have recognised third-party product certification demonstrating sustainability credentials under the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)

Furniture items are either Green Tag or Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certified. The GECA scheme assesses products in terms of their environmental performance, social and economic responsibility, and governance procedures in their manufacture. The joinery is extensive and has been built with ‘chain of custody’ responsibly sourced timber and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) materials. All timber across the project is chain of custody certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which ensures that it’s sourced legally and sustainably.

Innovative Construction

The Garden Building will be constructed from the latest low-impact construction techniques. The building structure will utilise glue laminated timber ‘Glulam’ – a cutting-edge sustainable material which has a far lower carbon footprint than other building materials, the production process produces zero waste, and timbers are sourced from certified sustainably managed forests.

Precinct Energy Connectivity

Working in with RMIT’s existing Sustainable Urban Precincts Program (SUPP), the New Academic Street development will connect into a new onsite co-generation energy system to provide low-carbon electricity and efficient precinct level heating.

A Living Laboratory

RMIT has leveraged the NAS project to provide a mechanism for student participation, creating a living laboratory.

There are many aspects of a building such as views, access to daylight, lighting and air quality which contributed to good Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ). Good IEQ has been linked to improved productivity, wellbeing and occupant satisfaction. Researchers from RMIT’s School of Property Construction and Project Management have conducted pre-occupancy surveys in the original space and will revisit the project on completion to understand how the project has improved the IEQ and user experience in the building. The data will inform future refurbishment projects and identify key IEQ factors influenced by sustainable building development.

Also within the new NAS rooftops there will be growing space allocated for students in programs such as Landscape Architecture to test soils and plants that work well on urban green roofs.

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