“The key idea here is that we’re moving from a building that consumes resources and consumes energy contributing to the depletion of finite resources, to a position of regeneration and restoration,” said principal architect and building designer Mark Roehrs.
The building is the first in the country to use geopolymer concrete, a low carbon product first used in Russia that produces significantly fewer emissions than its conventional counterpart.
Among the other green features are an automatic sun shading system, natural ventilation, rooftop solar panels, a green wall, a bush tucker garden, a bio-retention basin and a 60,000-litre rainwater storage tank.
Natural ventilation keeps the building cooled to between 18° and 28° for 88% of the year. In other periods, a closed ventilation system powered by the solar panels takes over. The translucent atrium roof allows natural light in to the interior while insulating the sun’s heat.
GCI director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said it was an example of the University of Queensland’s commitment to improving sustainability.
“Whether it’s challenges of innovation, to renewable energy, to the health of our oceans this building is trying to galvanise research across disciplines to solve the really big questions we face and that’s really rare in most universities at the moment,” he said.
The construction of the building was made possible by a $15 million donation from former University of Queensland student and philanthropist Graeme Wood.