RMIT Goes Green (Opinion Editorial)
We live pretty well here in Melbourne. Our city has been ranked as the world’s most liveable for six consecutive years. Our living conditions are impeccable with world-class healthcare and quality education, alongside the immense culture that has been established over the years. With this said, it’s easy to forget about the small, insignificant things in life. Say, turning off the light when you leave the room. That doesn’t matter, right? Wrong.
Despite Melbourne’s strong sense of society and “liveable city” attributes, we are affected by the impending doom that is global warming no less than the rest of the world. Now I don’t mean to be unduly negative here, but if we want to maintain the lifestyles that we enjoy now, the message from climate scientists is simple – we are going to have to make some real changes.
Thankfully, RMIT University has woken up to this realization upon the commencement of their New Academic Street project. For many others and myself alike, this redevelopment is one of the boldest achievements of the project. Unlike other 5-star rated buildings, the NAS precinct wasn’t built from the ground up, but was rather repurposed from much older existing structures – something rarely seen in new developments nowadays.
RMIT’s Senior Manager of Sustainability, Lin Stevenson, asserts that “we could have just demolished everything and built something shiny from scratch, but by reusing what was there already we’ve been able to reduce our impact on the environment during the build, while setting RMIT up for a sustainable future.”
I think this is a fantastic initiative as sustainability is a core goal for RMIT, with the NAS project having been designed in a way that ensures that resources provide long-term value. The facilities developed meet the high standards of energy, for both water and energy efficiency. I strongly believe that this is a huge incentive for staff and students, having the luxury of an amazing educational facility that has a low environmental impact – something that we should all be conscious of.
In addition to giving the existing buildings new life and new forward construction, one of my favourite features is the Garden Building. The Garden Building will be constructed via the latest low-impact construction techniques. Thus, creating a far lower carbon footprint than other building materials, with all timbers sourced from certified sustainably managed forests. The overall design also mirrors the urban experience felt through an integrated learning campus. I trust that this in itself will excite both staff and students as it makes RMIT one of the first 5-star green rating educational facilities, ensuring its credibility well above other institutions.
The NAS project comes down to the innovative collaborations of the talented design team; with the architect practices involved all alumni of the university. I love this concept as the benefits are two fold; the architects are not only professionals in their field, but can also hold the perspective of a former student of the organisation, displaying the kinds of opportunities that RMIT can provide after completion of a course here.
They hold an emphasis on urban engagement, actively researching and teaching around contemporary urban conditions in Australia. This correlates the infrastructure with the new feel of integrated CBD learning, which is so unique to RMIT and something I cannot wait to indulge in upon completion.
RMIT have definitely taken the right steps to becoming a more economical and urban feeling facility, something that I think more big organisations can take note of and replicate for the benefit of our environment.
This piece is a student work, some details may not be completely accurate.