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Waikato University’s Student Centre is boasting some serious green architecture and design dexterity after becoming only the second educational building in New Zealand to receive a ‘5 Green Star’ rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC). It is the first 5 Green Star project in the Waikato region.

The university’s project manager, Tony Dicks, says Waikato’s Student Centre is a massive project and incredibly complex due to the large amount of refurbishment involved.

“Incorporating an environmentally sustainable design creates a building that uses less energy, as well as making it healthier and safer for users, and models how buildings can be self-sufficient.”

He says the project has been scrutinised at every level and from every aspect to ensure it is as sustainable as possible.

“It began with the design team from Warren and Mahoney and AECOM commencing design in late 2006, through to Fletchers Construction beginning building work in 2008. Many parties have contributed to ensure the Student Centre will be an exemplary facility that is a pleasure to use, while minimising its impact on the environment.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says achieving the five-star rating reflects the university’s commitment to sustainability.

“Sustainability is a key driver of this University and this achievement demonstrates our ability to apply our core values in ways that will benefit students, staff and the community,” he says.

The Green Star rating scheme is a voluntary environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental attributes and performance of buildings in New Zealand. The not-for-profit industry organisation is dedicated to accelerating the development and adoption of market-based green building practices.

NZGBC chief executive Alex Cutler says a 5 Green Star certified rating represents New Zealand excellence and the Student Centre is only the second education building to achieve this status. The other one is Canterbury University’s NZi3 building.

“Waikato University has amply demonstrated how it is preparing its built environment for the future. This is evidence of long-term planning that will reap economic rewards in terms of reducing operating costs and environmental rewards with a reduced environmental impact,” says Cutler.

Coming in at $30 million, the Student Centre is due to be completed by the middle of next year.

The Student Centre’s features green features include:

  • photo-voltaic panels and energy-generating lifts which will create energy for the building;
  • sophisticated lighting and heating controls;
  • carpet, ceiling tiles, and furniture having as much recycled content as possible;
  • high-levels of natural light;
  • rainwater collected from the roof to be stored on site and recycled through toilets;
  • solar heating of water;
  • and recycling of the demolition material where possible back into the building to prevent material going to landfill.