Environmentally Sustainable Design

What is Environmentally Sustainable Building Design?

Environmentally sustainable, or ‘green’ design, aims to reduce the environmental impact of the construction and operation of buidings.

Key objectives for sustainable design include:

Assessing the entire life cycle of the building to identify overall environmental footprint and impact
Minimising waste and toxins
Reusing and recycling materials wherever possible
Reducing stormwater runoff
Efficiently using energy, materials and water
Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity – a green building will be healthier for the occupants of the building
Optimising ongoing operation and maintenance – a green building can lead to optimised operation and maintenance

Curtin Univerty Engineering Pavilion - Perth, WA
Curtin Univerty Engineering Pavilion - Perth, WA
Why choose Green Design?

The advantages of choosing a ‘green’ design are many.

Corporate Social Responsibility Choosing a green building design is a demonstration of an organisation’s commitment to the environment and therefore the community. Potential customers and employees are increasingly choosing to associate with organisations who do demonstrate this commitment.
Higher quality / healthier environment for occupants Green buildings use natural light, provide fresh air and access to views. Occupant comfort and productivity is correspondingly higher. Cross ventilation and good quality air supply reduce cross contamination of illnesses amongst workers, reducing sick leave.
Reduced Liability and Risk Green star rated buildings minimise the use of hazardous materials, which can cause occupational health issues.                 
More attractive to prospective building tenants Green buildings are increasingly more popular to prospective tenants, as the population in general become more aware of the advantages and positive image of green buildings. Tenants are examining the green credentials of a building in order to fulfil their own environmental policies.
Higher marketability The positive image presented by green buildings is seen as a marketable factor that companies can utilise to raise their own image in the community. Create an additional differentiator in the marketing of your building.
Lower energy costs Efficient use of water and power in green buildings means overall consumption is lower. Tenants are given a buffer against future cost increases for and availability of, energy services.
Minimise Use of Materials in Construction Reusing an existing building structure, or parts of a structure, will reduce the waste produced by your development and reduce the quantity of new materials needed. BG&E can help you to identify the most efficient and practical way of redeveloping your structure. This could even lead to overall project savings.

What is Green Star Rating?

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) developed the Australian, national ‘Green Star’ rating system, for use on a voluntary basis in Australia, as a method of assessing and promoting the environmental Design and Construction of buildings.

The GBCA evaluates the performance of a building under 9 categories. These are:

  • Energy
  • Emissions
  • Indoor Environment Quality
  • Innovation
  • Land Use and Ecology
  • Management
  • Materials
  • Transport
  • Water

BG&E can assist you to understand all these categories but we are particularly skilled in the area of Innovation, Materials and Water.

For each category, ‘Green Points’ are earned.

For example, changing the mix design of your concrete can add between one and 3 Green Points to your project. Greener concrete might contain a lower percentage of cement and/ or recycled aggregate. Instead, substitutes such as waste materials, including slag, can be added to the mix.

Number of Green StarsGeneral guidelines to achieve this rating
4Good practice only is required.
5Special consideration required by your engineers.
6Innovation is required throughout the project. BG&E can assist in this area.

There are a number of rating systems from around the world, used to assess sustainability. These include the LEED system in the USA, the BREAM system (for buildings) in the UK and the CEEQUAL (civil infrastructure) system in the UK.


To improve the sustainability rating for any project, a number of techniques are enlisted. These include:-

  • Reduction in energy use
  • Reduction of materials used
  • User of recycled materials
  • Smart, integrated and coordinated design
  • Re-use of buildings, or parts of buildings
  • Use of renewable resources
  • Siting the structure efficiently to leverage from locational advantages
  • Use of passive solar
  • Sufficient insulation
  • Stack and cross-ventilation
  • Substitution of less toxic materials than traditional materials can offer
Retrofitting & Reduction

It is often possible to improve the sustainability of existing buildings, by retrofitting the structure. Building Information Modelling (BIM) can greatly assist in increasing the efficiency of a design, as it will provide a rich set of data regarding the building.

For further information about BIM, click here.

Reduction of materials is key to achieving or contributing to the environmentally sustainable qualities of a structure.

Useful Links

Green Building Council Australia:www.gbca.org.au
Australia Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC):www.agic.net.au
Life Cycle Initiative (LCI):www.bpic.asn.au/LCI
CEEQUAL (Civil Infrastructure):www.ceequal.com

How can BG&E help?

Targeted Advice BG&E concentrate on one aspect of the sustainable design of a development project. This means that we drill down into more detail in our research and development of innovative, environmentally sustainable design solutions, than our multi-disciplinary competitors.
Embodied Carbon Assessments Life cycle assessment includes evaluating a range of impacts associated with all stages of the building process, from cradle to grave. That is, from extraction of the raw materials, through to processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair, maintenance and disposal or recycling. Impacts that are taken into account include embodied energy, global warming potential, resource use, air pollution, water pollution and waste.

BG&E can assess the embodied carbon of a structure, as part of such an assessment.
BIM Building Information Modelling is the process of creating detailed models of existing or proposed buildings, which allow simulation of their performance over time, including assessment of their green rating.

Creating a coordinated, virtual model of a building, prior to construction, allows the design team to find efficiencies in the design that will reduce the environmental impact of the building.

BG&E can model your building using BIM software, to improve the building design and as part of an overall Life Cycle Assessment.
Construction Support Services – Fast, Efficient Construction Fast, efficient construction techniques not only reduce the cost of construction but can also reduce material waste and energy use in construction.
Prefabrication and Offsite Construction BG&E can lead you through the process of finding ways to create your structure using the latest prefabrication, offsite construction methods and facilities that are available. This will give you a factory quality product, designed to minimise material use, transport of labour and material waste, in order to deliver a more environmentally sustainable structure.
Materials Selection We have a strong track record in the use of innovative, emerging materials to improve building design. We draw upon this experience to assist you in choosing environmentally sustainable materials.
Advice in use of both new and substitute materials BG&E have a solid understanding of new and emerging materials that can be used for effective designs. If there are products or materials that you have in mind, give us a call to discuss – we can provide advice in the selection and use of new and substitute materials.

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