Burwood Brickworks | The world’s greenest shopping centre

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly more significant element of construction projects and Burwood Brickworks has been labelled as the world’s greenest shopping centre by adopting the Living Building Challenge (LBC). The $500m+ project which is located 19kms from Melbourne’s CBD opened in December 2019.

What is the Living Building Challenge (LBC)?

The LBC is an international sustainable building certification program created by the International Living Future Institute that promotes the most advanced measurement of sustainability in the built environment.

To be certified under the challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. The project will be monitored for a full year after completion to confirm it performs as expected before the certification is awarded.

The Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas called Petals – Place, Equity, Water, Beauty, Materials, Health + Happiness and Energy. Each Petal is further sub-divided into Imperatives, which address specific issues through detailed requirements. 

The Blueprint worked on this project across a number of key architectural features. In addition, we also implemented the signage. Key elements we worked on included: Feature ceiling graphics / Small architectural facade ribbon / Large architectural facade ribbon / Pylon Signage / Wayfinding Signage

Large architectural facade ribbon
Small architectural facade ribbon
Pylon signage
Ceiling feature graphics

What did LBC mean for our team on this project?

The most significant performance category the team had to adhere to was the Materials petal. The Materials Petal strives to have a successful materials economy that is non-toxic, transparent and socially equitable. The ‘Red List’ falls under the materials petal. A building project may not contain any of the Red List chemicals or chemical groups.Red List Building Materials contain chemicals that have been designated as harmful to living creatures, including humans, or the environment.

Our obligation was to ensure that no element installed on site had any of the documented “red listed” chemical items. A detailed record of how each material is made by the manufacturer and the extent to which that product is compliant with the Red List had to be recorded and turned in before certification could be achieved. 

The three compliance levels are: (1) LBC Red List free, which means that the product is free of all red list ingredients; (2) LBC compliant, which means that the product contains some chemicals that ILFI has designated as temporary red list exceptions; or (3) declared, which means that the product is not compliant with the Red List or its temporary exceptions.

Our project managers obtained declarations of more than 20 products including tapes, inks, steel, LEDs and paints and were required to ensure strict adherence to the LBC mandate. The process was a rigorous one and not a small undertaking where countless hours were undertaken researching companies and products that comply and adhere to the strict guidelines. We achieved a 100% compliant product across the project.

Another performance area considered throughout the process was the Beauty Petal. The intent of the Beauty Petal is to create aesthetically pleasing designs. The product must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture and spirit appropriate to its function. The product must be artfully designed and pleasing to use.

The activated rooftop urban farm. Image sourced from Fraser’s Property. 

When walking around Burwood Brickworks one gets a sense of just how much effort has been put in to ensure this centre complies with the LBC. Compliance extends well beyond the construction phase and the centre will be required to report on an ongoing basis to prove this level of accreditation.

Beyond materials and specification, the centre also boasts an activated rooftop urban farm on top of the retail hub. The farm supplies fresh produce to local restaurants and provides composting facilities and organic fertilizer for residents to use. Alongside a sustainable food offering, the rooftop farm provides educational opportunities on urban agriculture and sustainability, cooking classes, farm tours, and interactive activities including hen houses, butterfly and flower gardens, bee hives, composting and worm stations, and demonstration gardens. 

Other sustainable initiatives include the Solar Farm which is across the entire roof deck of Shopping Centre and will generate 1MW of power, maintaining sufficient energy to support the centre.

 Bird’s eye view of the Solar farm across the roof deck. Image sourced from Hacer Group.  

This type of development is a first of its kind and is an excellent example of sustainability, innovation and a clear vision to provide a unique offer to the people of Melbourne. There is no doubt this sets the pace for future developments on a global scale.

The Blueprint was able to contribute to the building process by testing and vetting materials used in the construction of signage, architectural features and graphics throughout the centre. Our team is proud to be able to contribute positively to the environment and serve as role models for future construction.