Sustainable Schools, Better Teaching, Better Learning

Bosses are finding employees work better in sustainable, healthy buildings and the same is found for students of sustainable schools.

The Green Building Council of Australia chief operating officer Robin Mellon said she believed that investment in quality learning environments was as essential as investment in quality teaching and resources.

Sourceable reported that studies on green schools found that there was a 25 per cent improvement on test scores and a 41 per cent improvement in health can be achieved by providing good lighting and ventilation.

They also found students who have plenty of daylight in their classrooms progress 26 per cent faster in reading and 20 per cent faster in maths and a student’s academic progress could be affected by up to 25 per cent by the classroom environment.

The UK’s University of Salford and Nightingale Architects released research this year that showed a student’s academic achievement could be affected by up to 25 per cent by their classroom environment.

Sustainable schools also give students a hands-on approach to green living, with school gardens, which deepens their understanding of what they are taught.

A better work environment also means teachers have a better place to teach, with studies showing better workplaces attract better workers.


Green Answers in the Past

US architect, professor and researcher on urban waterfronts and water supply Kevin Bone claims architecture and the future of the planet are inextricably linked and we may find our answers in what has gone before us.

Speaking to ArtInfo’s Kelly Chan, he said the past had more to offer the future than we may think.

His current exhibition of modern architecture in the US, looks at modern architecture and said he wanted to break the stereotype that it was an environmentally disruptive style of building.

Professor Bone said, through his exhibition, he wanted to show that great architects were very attuned to the cycles of nature and green architecture was something that had to be at the very beginning of an architectural idea.

He also warned architectural students and architects that they needed to be in tune with nature, with a building’s site and its relationship to the sun most important to the success of the building as a sustainable product that reduced the need for energy and fuel use.

He uses the Frank Lloyd Wright Solar Hemicycle in Wisconsin as an example of a passive solar heating building.

Professor Bone said that builders using locally-sourced materials and local craftsmen were also thinking of the environment during the construction of their projects, using the example of Antonin Raymond who worked on the Imperial Hotel in Japan with Frank Lloyd Wright, and Professor Bone said these structures showed “a sense of the local”.

The Green Architecture of Land

Architects are not just valuable for designing the built environment, the worth of landscape architects is being recognised as people see the value of green space in urban environs.

In cities and urban areas around the world, people are becoming more health-conscious and, therefore, wanting more walking and running tracks, which landscape architects can design.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects sees the architect’s role as increasing connectivity, multi-functionality, and landscape performance in the built environment.

Humans are dependent on the health of the natural environment and as cities and towns focus on reducing the use of resources, the management of green resources can influence how effective human responses are to these challenges.

The AILA believes that new design and management solutions for our built environments are needed and green infrastructure strategies can provide a framework for holistic planning, design and monitoring of the interactions between the built form and the environment within which it is situated.

Landscape architects work to address these challenges by utilising vegetation to overcome issues within the human environment such as filtration and slowing down of storm water-reducing erosion, improving air and water quality, energy use and biodiversity and generally improving sustainability in the built environment.

South Australia Embraces Sustainable Infrastructure

The South Australian Government has launched the country’s first infrastructure sustainability rating scheme.

The Australian Green Infrastructure Council developed the tool which can assess infrastructure including roads and bridges, ports, harbours and airports, communication and energy with ratings out of 100 points given to the projects or assets.

Infrastructure Sustainability is Australia’s only comprehensive rating system for evaluating sustainability across design, construction and operation of infrastructure.

Each project is assessed across economic, environmental and social criteria.
As well as being a rating tool, the Infrastructure Sustainability Rating Scheme includes an assessment process and education and training programs.
A rating in the 25-49 range is considered good practice, a 50-74 rating is excellent and 75-100 is leading practice.

“It will help us assess the quality of management systems, the process of procurement and purchasing, how a piece of infrastructure can adapt to climate change and what it will discharge into land, air and water,” Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“The scheme is voluntary and helps create better, more sustainable ways of designing, building and operating infrastructure which can then be marked with a rating level. It demystifies the whole question of what exactly we mean by economic, social and environmental sustainability.”

World Green Building Week

Australia is celebrating excellence and progress in sustainable building with World Green Building Week running from September 17. More than 90 countries are coming together for the third year of the event. The Green Building Council of Australia said the week highlights the role that green buildings and communities play in reducing the global carbon footprint and saving money, whilst creating jobs, boosting productivity, health and learning and improving lives.

“Many Australian companies now have international reputations as sustainability specialists and we are leading the way in terms of green products and innovations,” Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) chief executive Romilly Madew said.

“In ten years, we have transformed some segments of the property and construction market – such as commercial offices – and we are making inroads into other markets, with sustainable schools, hospitals, shopping centres, industrial facilities and apartments a reality across Australia.”

Ms Madew said World Green Building Week reminded us that sustainable building was not a fad or a fashion, but was the future. Australia is a world leader in sustainable building and living and the week ahead will show this off to the world. During the week there will be walking tours, online chats, events, competitions, seminars and product launches.

Is this NSW’s most sustainable home?

Green Magazine recently featured a home built in Sydney’s Rose Bay that could well be the most sustainable property ever built in the state.

Built without using a single brick, it incorporates design and building practices as well as energy and water efficiency measures which go far beyond regulation.

Among the property’s features are three water tanks storing a combined total of 6,600 litres; grey water diversion; an irrigation system feeding citrus trees, lawn, herbs, olive trees, banana trees, and passionfruit; insulation that sits externally, internally, under the concrete slab and on the roof via a combined roof panel; high WELS rated shower heads, taps, and dual flush toilets; and a three kilowatt PV solar system.

Kudos to architect Caroline Piddock for having the vision to create such an inspiring and forward-thinking building. Here’s hoping more Australian architects and developers follow her lead.

Brisbane ideas competition encourages innovation

We’re following with interest news of the first ever Brisbane Ideas Competition, which asks individuals to develop ideas and propose initiatives that address what’s missing  from our city and what it needs for the future. It’s certainly an ambitious concept and has the potential to give birth to some exciting and innovative ideas.

Organisers Heise Design say they hope the broad entry requirements will solicit entries across a wide range of disciplines, from architecture and urban design through to art, science and engineering. Entries will be placed on exhibition throughout the city.

Follow details of it at

Pixel building raises the bar for sustainable design

If you picked up a copy of The Australian’s Wish magazine this week, you’ll have read all about Grocon Construction’s visionary Pixel building.  Proving that office buildings can be sustainable, commercially viable and architecturally inspirational, the Pixel in Melbourne is one of the most innovative development projects this country has seen to date.

The façade – comprised of multi-coloured sun-shading panels – makes the building instantly iconic and identifiable. But it’s what’s going on behind the scenes that makes this project truly remarkable and has earned it the accolade of the “greenest building in Australia”. Inspiring stuff. ?