27 Nov 2020
As the first retail development in the world to target the Living Building Challenge® (LBC®) certification, Frasers Property Australia’s Burwood Brickworks is on track to be the world's most sustainable shopping centre. Considered as the most rigorous green-building standard in the market, the LBC® goes beyond a checklist of current best practices to rate buildings based on a series of performance goals and empower project teams to find creative design solutions.
What is a Living Building?
The Living Building Challenge® is administered by the International Living Future Institute that envisions an ecologically-minded, restorative world for everyone. A Living Building is one that gives more than it takes, leaves a positive legacy on the site it occupies, and operates efficiently.
The Environmental Story
Burwood Brickworks’ sawtooth roof offers the perfect design for solar panels. It uses only renewable energy, and on an annual basis, generates more electricity than it consumes. An extensive 1MW solar array is spread across the rooftop, equating to 3,260 individual solar panels. A 250KW battery captures and stores solar energy and this – combined with off-site renewable technology – provides all the centres’ energy requirements with a surplus. Running a shopping centre predominantly on solar power is no small feat. To ensure the centre has the capacity to meet the energy needs of all tenants, as well as meet the strict sustainability requirements of the LBC®, tenants had to be brought along on the journey.
While the allows for a maximum lighting energy output of just over 22 watts per sqm, tenants at Burwood Brickworks use lighting requiring just five watts of energy per square on average. Lighting efficiency has been achieved through the use of LEDs, with particular emphasis on lumens, lux levels, colour, and angles of the lighting.
Every tenancy is connected to one, central, energy-efficient temperature control system and given the power to control the temperature within their own premises.
With very few exceptions, every refrigerated item sold at Burwood Brickworks is behind a closed fridge door. The simple act of placing doors on fridges substantially reduces energy consumption, particularly for large retailers such as .
A 500,000-litre water tank sits in the underground car park. Rainwater is funnelled from the rooftop and the carpark to the tanks, where it is then treated for use in the centre.
With an onsite water treatment plant, the first of its kind in Australia, captured rainwater and recycled water from the centre is processed to a potable standard. Treated water is used throughout the centre for toilet flushing, for use in washing machines, cooling towers, car-washing and to irrigate on-site urban agriculture. To increase water savings on site, all tenancies were required to install high-efficiency water fittings.
The LBC® is different from conventional green building schemes. It assesses a building on its entire environmental impact from the ground up. This means analysing all materials that go into construction, where the materials have been sourced, sourcing salvaged materials where possible and striving for waste to be seen as a resource, during construction and beyond.
Achieving this required monumental effort, with a level of detail never done before in a building of this size and function. Every tenant, contractor, consultant and supplier was required to provide a detailed list of all materials used on site, where the materials have been sourced and the cost of each material. Alternatives have been sourced if materials did not meet strict LBC® requirements.
No materials used in the construction of Burwood Brickworks contain chemicals listed on the Red List such as Formaldehyde, lead, mercury and PVC among hundreds more toxic chemicals that damage the environment and human health.
All timber used in the construction of Burwood Brickworks is certified or salvaged. The project will account for the total embodied carbon impact of its construction through a one-time carbon offset in late 2020.
When it comes to material waste, 99 per cent of the waste produced during the construction process was diverted from landfill. Some tenants even salvaged items from construction waste and re-used them in shop fitouts.
Beyond construction, tenants serving food have been asked to find alternatives to single-use packaging of any kind while the shopping centre has a best-in-industry materials conservation (waste) management plan, that includes – among other initiatives – its own composting facility and food waste dehydrator.
The first of its kind in Australia, Burwood Brickworks’ urban farm spans 2,500 sqm on the rooftop of the shopping. Produce from the farm is served at the Farmhouse Restaurant and Glasshouse café. Everything grown on the farm fits a purpose, either benefitting the restaurant and café or the local community through charitable partnerships or workshops.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the produce grown in the farm was unable to be used in the closed restaurant and café and was instead donated to those in the community experiencing food insecurity.
A large variety of food is grown in the outdoor farm beds and inside the hydroponic glasshouse, including a range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, herbs and flowers. Quails produce eggs and fertiliser while chickens are used for mini-tractoring. The whole farm is chemical-free, building up soil health via composting and worm farming and by returning organic matter to the soil.
Agriculture extends beyond the rooftop with a potted citrus orchard growing alongside the centre’s eastern façade and grape vines growing in the carpark, offering aesthetic appeal and fresh produce. For the first time ever in an Australian retail environment, the concept of food miles can be measured in metres.
Education is key
One of the necessary functions of Burwood Brickworks is to perform an educational role in the industry and for the community. Many initiatives at the mall are deliberately domestic in scale, in the hope that visitors to the centre will be inspired to adopt more sustainable practices in their own homes. This could simply be using more reclaimed items, checking the ingredients of the products they are purchasing or growing their own small-scale urban farm.
The farm operator is in the process of developing educational workshops for community and school groups to educate about urban farms and how they can make a difference. The space is providing an important place for the community to connect, whether local or from further afield.
Leaving a Legacy
The tentacles of Burwood Brickworks will reach further than retail. Discussions with other organisations, Government bodies and built environment stakeholders have happened, and more will happen in the future. Creators and owners of alternative retail environments, such as university campuses, have shown an interest in the project and are looking to incorporate some of the innovations pioneered at Burwood Brickworks into their operations.
For tenants, the collaboration enjoyed in taking this journey highlights the broader recognition and desire amongst businesses to create and occupy more comfortable, sustainable places. It is clear that tenants and customers are increasingly demanding better environmental performance and an elevated sense of social responsibility from developers. As a result of this experience, Frasers Property Australia is better prepared than ever to have these conversations with occupiers across different sectors to bring a solutions-focus approach.
Burwood Brickworks is proof that where there is the will, we can do better.