Monday, February 26, 2018
The EY Centre at 200 George Street, a commercial building and location of the new Mirvac headquarters, is the first project in Australia to be awarded WELL Certification at the Gold level. Mirvac is an Australian property company committed to designing and building smart, environmentally and socially sustainable assets for its tenants and its workforce. We heard from members of the project team about their process and the road to WELL Certification.
Why did you decide to pursue WELL Certification for Mirvac? What were your objectives?
In 2015, we embarked on a national initiative called “Transforming the way we work.” The program set the expectations for the new Mirvac Headquarters and included a number of forward-thinking initiatives. It was comprised of a set of activities and policies designed to ensure that our business methods reflected our aspirations – we focused on identifying and implementing methods to encourage streamlined and flexible working practices and on using technology to increase efficiency.
We held a series of employee engagement sessions, through which we identified the three primary goals of transforming the way we work:
Set the standard for indoor environmental quality, health and well-being for our staff and the neighbouring community.
Create a building that educates through design, form and function so employees and visitors go home smarter and healthier.
Set a new benchmark for measuring sustainable office working.
When we ultimately discovered WELL Certification, we were thrilled to learn how it aligned, elevated and expanded the reach of these goals. It allowed us to validate, through the application of science and reasoning, many of the components of our “Transforming the way we work” initiative and anchor it to a larger purpose: our future depends on each of us acting sustainably and thinking about how we impact and interact with our environment and communities.
At a glance:
Intent: To encourage intermittent bouts of physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior through accessible, safe and visually appealing stairs, entryways and corridors.
An internal staircase connects all six floors of the Mirvac Headquarters and is centrally located to promote movement and connection. The staircase acts as both a visual and practical element of the space, drawing people together and also encouraging them to stay active throughout the day.
Intent: To monitor and effectively remediate indoor air quality issues and inform building managers and occupants of the quality of the indoor environment.
Mirvac’s SAMBA (Sentient Ambient Monitoring of Buildings in Australia) sensors monitor a number of environmental factors, including thermal comfort and indoor air quality. The data is then displayed to staff and visitors on a number of interactive screens throughout the space.
Intent: To nurture the innate human-nature connection within the project.
Mirvac’s biophilia plan flows throughout the entire office space, ensuring a human connection to nature is available at all times.
How did your team approach the WELL Certification process?
Although the Mirvac leadership team made the final decision to target WELL Certification, the process required the involvement and support of a number of teams across the business. We also worked closely with Delos to ensure the science and reasoning behind the requirements were clearly communicated to all involved. This ensured a smooth and collaborative process.
What challenges did you face as you were incorporating WELL features? How did you solve them?
We encountered several challenges in pursuing the design and construction of the project. The EY Centre base building was already under construction and the design of our headquarters’ fitout had already started when we made the commitment to pursue WELL. We had also already committed to targeting a 6 Star Green Star Interior rating and a 5 Star NABERS Energy rating, so adding a third certification to the process was initially a stretch.
Further, WELL was a new tool in the Australian market. Our early adoption meant that there was limited local knowledge. The collaboration between IWBI and Green Building Council of Australia will greatly increase the feasibility of other projects pursuing dual certification.
What are the most innovative or stand-out aspects of your WELL project?
There are a few features that stand out as especially important and innovative in our project, including:
The building has the world's first combined application of a closed cavity façade with a timber blind system that automatically adjusts, controlling the light and heat radiating from outside.
Mirvac installed IEQ monitoring with live data streamed to screens for all employees and visitors to see. In partnership with Sydney University, we installed 15 SAMBA units throughout our Headquarters. A SAMBA unit measures real-time parameters such as air and radiant temperature, humidity, air speed, light levels, sound pressure level, carbon dioxide concentration and levels of total volatile organic compounds. These parameters provide an assessment of thermal comfort, indoor air quality, luminous environmental quality and acoustic environmental quality for building occupants.
A large staircase connects all levels in the Mirvac Headquarters. The staircase sits within a large floor void which fosters visual and acoustic connection between levels.
On-site yoga and pilates classes are held weekly by a qualified professional and are open to all staff.
The building is home to approximately 1,170 plants – more than one plant per person.
Employees benefit from an internal café which offers a variety of healthy food options with high nutritional value and clear ingredients labelling.
Employees have access to high quality bike storage facilities, promoting an active lifestyle.
What positive impacts resulted from your WELL Certification? What post-certification metrics can you share related to outcomes?
For our staff, there has been a great sense of pride associated with WELL Certification. Our employees find it deeply gratifying that we made the decision to put their health and well-being first. Aside from allowing us to deliver on health for our staff, WELL Certification also positioned us as a market leader in an area critical to our customers. By holding our own workplace to the highest standard, we’ve been able to truly “walk the talk.” Our customers can now visit our office to see what is possible in healthy design.
We leveraged the BOSSA (Building Occupants Survey System Australia) occupant survey to measure satisfaction with several dimensions of Indoor Environmental Quality including indoor air quality, noise and privacy, connection to the outdoors, comfort, health and more. After conducting the survey in both the old and new workplaces, we found that the results showed an overall increase in satisfaction in every category.
Base Building: Mirvac
Contractor: Mirvac - Lucy Pullin and Aleks Kukolj
Architect: Mirvac - Lucy Pullin and Davenport Campbell - Kirsty Argyle
Mechanical Engineer: ARUP - Tim Boorman
Hydraulic Engineer: ARUP - Rudolph Chan
Lighting: ARUP - Rebecca Cadorin
Acoustics: Renzo Tonin - Rebecca Corbett
WELL Consultant: Delos - Liz Miles
GreenStar Consultant: Surface Design - Belinda Konopka