Becoming the world’s most sustainable shopping centre is no easy feat.
But it’s a title that Melbourne’s Burwood Brickworks, opened on 6 December, is determined to attain.
Developed by the International Living Future Institute, the framework asks that a building operates as effectively as a flower – receiving its energy needs from the sun, using and circulating water, producing no waste or toxicity, all while looking beautiful.
Peri Macdonald, Executive General Manager of Retail at Frasers Property, has worked closely with the Living Future Institute of Australia to ensure Burwood Brickworks meets the rigorous criteria necessary to achieve the accreditation.
“Being the natural heart of the new Brickworks community, we hope to establish the centre as a place the local community can consider an extension of their own homes, for them to feel a degree of ownership and pride in what’s been created.
“We were willing to invest additional capital in green initiatives based on a business case that will see that additional investment returned, with interest, over the life cycle of the centre,” Peri explains.
“This is on account of more efficient operating costs, enhanced asset value and better performance, with the centre set to offer customers something unique and compelling in an environment of unrivalled comfort.”
The community encompasses diverse housing choices, open space and parklands, community facilities and amenities, as well as the 13,000-square-metre retail space.
Peri acknowledges the compliance efforts of the shopping centre’s tenants, which include Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s, Reading Cinemas and Ben & Jerry’s.
“Their commitment to the vision we had for the centre has been – and will continue to be – vital to its success.”
The mixed-use development incorporates a range of sustainability measures including a large solar PV system and an embedded electricity network, achieving a 6 Star Green Star Design & As Built v1.1 (Design Rating) by the Green Building Council of Australia.
It’s also the first shopping centre in Australia with a rooftop farm.
Living Building Challenge certification means the shopping centre gives more than it takes, is self-sufficient, does not exceed the resource limits of its site, and encompasses regenerative spaces that connect people to light, air, food, nature and community.
Certification requires a building to produce 105% of the energy it will require during operation, and also requires that at least 20% of the site area be dedicated to agricultural use.
“Biophilic design seeks to create stronger connections between people and nature, resulting in elevated comfort levels. This concept underpins our approach to the design of Burwood Brickworks,” Peri explains.
“An abundance of internal planting and external landscaping, natural daylight and fresh air throughout the centre via a sawtooth style roof, and seamless connections to the surrounding parklands will create a more comfortable environment for shoppers.”
The development utilises natural, toxin-free materials such as energy-efficient building fabric and services, and Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber.
“The journey we have undertaken in pursuit of delivering an actual living building, something that has never been attempted in the retail space, is an achievement in itself that we are truly proud of, as we continue to work toward accreditation over the next 12 months,” says Peri.
He explains that the willingness to share the lessons learned is central to the premise of the Living Building Challenge.
“We’ve learned that the current planning framework is not equipped to support or encourage progressive developments like this,” he notes.
“Going forward, we will organise annual open days to educate the community and interested stakeholders on the sustainability aspects of the centre.”