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University of Newcastle’s Q Building awarded world-leading 6 Star rating – the first in regional NSW

University of Newcastle’s Q Building awarded world-leading 6 Star rating – the first in regional NSW

Thursday, 3 February 2022


The University of Newcastle’s Q Building has become the first building in regional NSW to achieve a 6 Star Green Star ‘Design and As Built’ certified rating.

A world-leading status, this is the highest rating awarded by Green Star, which is “an internationally recognised rating system setting the standard for healthy, resilient, positive buildings and places”, founded by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) in 2003.

The certification confirms that the $25 million building, which opened in June as the first stage of the University’s new Honeysuckle City Campus, is more than just a creative and entrepreneurial hub in the city – the School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Sciences (HCISS) and Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) call it home – it’s a signpost and an aspiration for the University, the city and the region’s sustainable future.

“This is a wonderful achievement for our University – it shows our commitment to sustainability, and is evidence we are embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on energy and carbon use, and waste and recycling,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky.

“As an institution, we had set out to achieve a new build being 6 Star certified by 2025, so Q Building puts us well in advance of the targets in our Environmental Sustainability Plan. From here on, all new University buildings will be designed and built for 6 Star ‘Design and As Built’ rating, which is a significant step on the road toward the University being carbon neutral by 2025.

“While we are proud of the building’s world-leading status, many of the initiatives that were central to achieving the 6 Star rating are considered ‘business as usual’ for us.”

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky and Davina Rooney, CEO of Green Building Council of Australia with the 6 star Green Star rating

As outlined by Green Star, this ‘Design and As Built’ rating is recognition that Q Building not only began its life as a good design, it followed through on that design during the construction process, resulting in a project that is set to continue as sustainable throughout its operations.

“The University of Newcastle’s Q Building is a brilliant, world-leading example of how Green Star can be applied within the education sector and is testimony to the University’s commitment to sustainability,” said Davina Rooney, CEO of GBCA.

“This is the first certified 6-star Green Star – Design and As Built project in regional NSW and with innovation at its core from the outset, it certainly sets the benchmark for future developments of this kind.”

Classes at Q Building will start in Semester 1 – just a few short weeks away – although some HCISS activities are already underway, and I2N is also operating on Level 3.

The rating is an important milestone for Q Building, a funding partnership between the NSW Government, the University and the City of Newcastle’s Hunter Innovation Project and delivered under the NSW Government’s shovel-ready capital project fast-track initiative in 2020.

“This world-leading certification is a true reflection of the modern Hunter, a region that is living up to its global potential,” said Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said this impressive accolade is a testament to the University of Newcastle in leading the city in best-practice sustainable development.

"City of Newcastle congratulates the University of Newcastle in leading sustainable construction in our city and delivering a state-of-the-art building that exceeds environmental standards," Cr Nelmes said.

"Our city's Climate Action Plan (2021-2025) sets out a roadmap for achieving emission reduction, to support a future net-zero emission Newcastle.

"It is great to see another Newcastle institution committed to sustainability and sharing City of Newcastle's vision for being known as a liveable, sustainable, inclusive global city."

University of Newcastle’s Q Building awarded world-leading 6 Star rating – the first in regional NSW

Q Building is expected to be officially opened later this year.

Key design elements

A key aspect of the build was mass timber construction. While the building features a concrete core, its remaining internal structure was built using sustainably sourced, cross-laminated timber, much of which is visible from outside the building. The first multi-storey timber building in Newcastle, the timber structure captures carbon, rather than producing it, creating minimal waste and supporting the HVAC system to moderate humidity inside the building. Additionally, it has benefits for health and wellbeing, with the biophilic design creating a feeling of being in nature.

The central design intent for the building was to maintain transparency and be open to the public, or a ‘stage within a city’, but this created challenges to ensure those insides were comfortable from a heat and weather perspective. To overcome this challenge, the three sides of the building which have the highest exposure to the sun (east, north and west) have been glazed with an electro-chromic smart-glass system called Sage Glass, which automatically changes its tint to respond to heat and glare.

These elements were achieved through the help of partners EJE Architecture (principal design consultant), Hansen Yuncken (head contractor), WSP (sustainability consultant) and APP (project manager).

“Hansen Yuncken is extremely proud to have delivered this landmark project for the Newcastle region,” said Jonathan Russell, Hansen Yuncken Project Manager.

“Continuing our longstanding relationship with the University of Newcastle, working together to combine innovation and sustainability and achieve an exceptional outcome on this state-of-the-art educational facility for their students has been a really enjoyable experience.”

Fast facts

Other sustainability initiatives

Q Building is the latest example of the University’s sustainability commitments. Other key sustainability initiatives and projects include:

Energy and carbon: To achieve our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025, the University has procured a 100% renewable electricity supply and we are progressively installing 1.1MW of on-site Solar PV.

Waste management: The McMullin Demolition Project benchmarked environmental management and sustainability, achieving reuse and diversion results well beyond targets. 99.83% material was diverted from landfill, winning at the World Demolition Awards 2021 for Recycling and Environmental.

Water efficiency: A number of projects are under way to improve on campus water efficiency, such as installation of 2.2 million litre rainwater tanks at the Forum swimming pool. Capturing and retaining rainwater, which can be used for irrigation, will significantly reduce our demand for potable water.

Q Building Virtual tour

You can take a virtual tour of Q Building with University of Newcastle students Bryan and Gabe. Additionally, you can use Maze Map for easy navigation to any room or sustainability point of interest.

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