The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong is the only building in Australia to achieve full marks under the Living Building Challenge.
The challenge, run by the US-based International Living Future Institute, is considered the world’s toughest green building test with only 24 buildings worldwide meeting its requirements. The Living Building Challenge uses a flower as a symbol to underpin its sustainability framework, where each ‘petal’ represents a different performance area. These include site, water and energy use, choice of materials as well as more qualitative areas such as health, happiness, equity and beauty.
The building is net positive energy, meaning it produces more renewable energy from the photovoltaic solar panels than it imports from the grid. Together with 468 solar panels on the roof of the centre to cater for all the building’s energy requirements, black and grey water is harvested and treated on site, and storm water is collected and stored in an underground reservoir for use in toilets, washing, and garden and green-wall irrigation. Indigenous vegetation native to the area is also being reintroduced to the site as part of the restorative objectives of the project. All materials were sourced from within a specific distance from the site, for example steel and concrete were sourced from within a 500 km radius.
Image credit: University of Wollongong and Cox Architecture.