Green Skills Centre of Excellence

Location

Epping, Victoria

Year

2010 – 2012

Services

Principal Consultant
Architecture
Contract Administration
Interior Design
Design team management

Photography

DS Architects

The front of a sustainable design and construction building, featuring a large white facade.

Overview

The Green Skills Centre of Excellence transforms a dated and uninspiring campus into a unique learning environment that showcases Australian excellence in sustainable design and construction. Not only was this building designed, built and ready for students in just 14 months, it was also one of the first to be designed to meet a 5-star rating in the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Green Star sustainability rating system.

Supporting a mix of uses

The challenge was creating a highly efficient building that would accommodate a mix of uses, including noisy and messy building trade activity, along with formal learning spaces, each with a welcoming and comfortable feel. But we didn’t want an industrial factory, despite this fitting the brief. Instead, we examined how the building would be used and let form follow function.

The front of a building with parked cars in front.
Delivering a sustainability case study

Our design response was to create more than just a tall, double-storey building; rather, a sustainability case study in practice. This is a living and breathing model for students to play with, learn from and experience first hand emerging technologies for new education programs on manufacturing, construction, installation, repair and maintenance.

As a result, this facility practises what it preaches, contributing to the environment as well as to students’ education through applying principles of efficient energy and resource management that it produces itself.

Sustainable design and construction building interior: A modern, eco-friendly space with sustainable materials and energy-efficient features.
A white building with a spacious white roof, standing tall and prominent.

Shaping a dynamic aesthetic

We took the idea of transforming the public side into an expression of movement, so that the building looks dynamic and ever changing from wherever it is viewed.

The front of a building with a sign that says "Green Skills" promoting environmentally friendly practices.
Creating physical and visual connections

Internally, the building comprises a large double volume space for the main trade activities, with support rooms including classrooms, offices, computer laboratories and supporting laboratories around it on three sides over two levels. On the lower level, the support rooms open directly onto the main activity space, while those above open onto a walkway that overlooks the main activity space.

A spacious building with vibrant green walls and a matching green and black floor, creating a harmonious and refreshing environment.

Tailored sustainability initiatives

Key design initiatives integrated within the 3,000 sqm building include: 

  • Sun harnessing: Solar technologies to minimise power use
  • Geothermal heating and cooling: Ground source heat pump for heating and cooling
  • Black and greywater system: Waste management and recycling systems
  • Rain harvesting: Used for toilet flushing and other non-potable uses, and;
  • Green material selection: FSC certified sustainable timbers, recycled content materials and minimised VOCs to optimise indoor, environmental quality.

Extra details include large tilt up doors that open the main activity space to the outdoors, promoting outdoor learning, plus floor trenches for the reticulation of services. 

A building with solar paneled roofs, and energy-efficient features, showcasing sustainable design and construction.

Putting the campus on the map

Today, the Green Skills Centre is a bold, 5-star shed. It has put Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping campus on the map, and its flexible design will adapt and evolve with emerging technologies and applications.