Burwood Brickworks Sustainability Certification Success

Solar panels at Burwood Brickworks

Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne is another step closer to its claim of the world’s most sustainable shopping centre being officially recognised.

A Frasers Property Australia development, construction of the 13,000 sqm shopping centre commenced in 2018 and the facility was officially opened late in 2019.  From the outset, Frasers were eyeing achieving Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification – and to be the first retail centre development to do so.

There are seven “petals” in full LBC certification, which cover different performance areas:

  • Place
  • Materials
  • Health & Happiness
  • Beauty
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Equity

On the weekend, Frasers Property announced that after independent audits it had achieved the first 4 in the list above – which mainly refer to the built form of the shopping centre.

Petal-chasing is a pretty tough gig, with LGC setting the bar very high. Frasers Property Australia CEO Anthony Boyd said the pursuit meant exposing the project to very close scrutiny and potential failure while bringing along all project partners and tenants in the effort, which no doubt was a little like herding cats at times. All this, plus the project had to be commercially feasible.

Burwood Brickworks And Solar Power

As for the final three petals – Water, Energy and Equity – they are yet to be audited based on 12 months of data under normal operations; something that was made more difficult by COVID-19. All going well, Frasers is aiming for full certification by late next year.

On the energy side of things, Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre is pretty impressive. There are 3,260 solar panels spread across the rooftop for a total capacity of 1MW. There’s also a “250KW battery” – but I wasn’t able to find further detail on this.

Combined with off-site renewables from wind and solar farms, all the centre’s energy requirements are met – and with some to spare. The LBC Energy “petal” requires one hundred and five percent of a project’s energy needs to be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis and projects must include on-site energy storage for resiliency.

Tenant cooperation has been vital in terms of energy efficiency. Apparently, some had to “totally re-imagine their fitout and operations” in order to meet the goals of the centre (and not just in terms of energy).

As for water, rainwater is funneled from the rooftop and the carpark to a 500,000-litre water tank in the underground car park. The water is treated on-site and while it is then at a potable (drinkable) standard, it is subsequently used throughout the centre for flushing toilets, washing machines, cooling towers, car-washing and to irrigate on-site urban agriculture.

And that’s another interesting sustainability feature of Burwood Brickworks – a 2,500 sqm rooftop farm that provides produce for a couple of eateries below.

“The vision for Burwood Brickworks was to redefine sustainability in retail by challenging ourselves in new and uncomfortable ways,” said Mr. Boyd.

And while it sounds like there was plenty of the latter, much has been learned that could be of benefit to other developments. Frasers will soon be publicly releasing a ‘Greensheet’, a comprehensive building materials database of vetted items used at the centre.

More on Burwood Brickworks sustainability efforts and pursuit of LGC certification can be found here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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