Cardinia Shire Council New Civic Centre

Mar 10, 2013 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Capital Projects Over $1M

Cardinia Shire Council has partnered with Places Victoria to build a civic centre in the heart of the new Officer town centre. It will be the first Green Star accredited building in Melbourne’s south east urban growth corridor, and act as a catalyst for sustainable design in the region.  The development will achieve 5 star Green Star – Office Design and As Built ratings.

It will also be the first Local Government building in Australia that has embraced Activity Based Working, which brings significant benefits to the organisation, staff and community.  These benefits include flexibility, accessibility and work choices as well as financial and sustainability.

The facility will be powered by a district energy system and incorporate passive design principles to minimise energy requirements.

Use of Best Practice Engineering Principles and Technologies

Cardinia Shire Council covers the south eastern edge of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary. Rapid urban growth and development is occurring, and Council staff numbers have grown to service the increasing population. The current civic centre was built 25 years ago to house an indoor staff of 55 people servicing a population of 17,640 residents. Now, Council has more than 300 indoor staff servicing a population of close to 80,000.

The current civic centre is inadequate to meet Council’s needs, now and into the future. Issues relating to the current building include:

  • inefficiencies and communication difficulties; many staff work out of portable buildings or are located in other buildings around Pakenham
  • difficulty in providing excellent customer service due to limited space, poor facilities and amenities
  • high cost to refurbish the existing office to meet present day standards
  • a lack of sustainable design features and attributes.

The sustainable design approach to the development of the new civic centre in the Officer town centre will support Places Victoria sustainability objectives for the Officer township master plan. It will also respond to the Cardinia Council brief to demonstrate sustainability leadership to influence new development in the Shire.

Key features of the 4650 m2 facility include:

  1. Connection to a low-carbon precinct central energy plant, which includes gas fired tri-generation and reticulated chilled and hot water for heating and cooling. It is Council’s intention that the tri-generation plant will be powered by gas generated from municipal waste in the future, which is currently being investigated.
  2. Excellent passive design, which reduces heating and cooling loads, and also improves comfort through exposed thermal mass, shading and insulation.
  3. The building form and operable windows have been designed to enable mixed mode ventilation and passive night purge.
  4. Water usage is minimised through high efficiency water fittings, landscape plantings that filter and collect stormwater, and through rainwater harvesting and reuse.  The building will also be connected to a non-potable recycled water supply being reticulated throughout the new township.
  5. A great emphasis on indoor environment quality has resulted in a working environment with good access to views and daylight, avoidance of materials that could adversely impact on indoor air quality as well as increased fresh air quantities and improved thermal comfort.

The new civic centre has a commitment to achieve 5 star Green Star – Office Design and As Built ratings. Whilst the building is designed to achieve a NABERS energy base building rating of at least 4.5 stars, its efficient operation and connection to a district tri-generation plant will enable it to achieve a NABERS energy rating of at least 5.5 stars. The building will use potable water only where required, and recycled or harvested water for all other purposes. The potable water usage for the building will be so low that a NABERS water 6 star rating may be achieved.

Compared to a standard building of the same size as the new facility operating at the average NABERS ratings of 3 star energy (base building) and water (whole building) the new facility will save:

  • $89,744 in energy and water costs,
  • 563 tonnes of CO2 emissions (a 73% reduction) and
  • 2400 KL of potable water (a 75% reduction) per annum.

The sustainable design attributes of the facility will lead to higher staff retention, improved productivity and lower absenteeism. The productivity gains and energy and water savings combined will provide a return of $166.90 per m2 per annum, $776,085 for the entire facility. The additional costs for the sustainability attributes have been costed at $320 to $420 per m2, and will pay for themselves in 1.9 to 2.5 years. More information on the savings the building will achieve is included in appendix 3.

The building will provide good connection to road, path and rail links and other business and community services within the precinct making it easier to access than the current site. The location of the new office will allow staff and visitors to utilise transport options with little or no carbon emissions, reducing dependency on private vehicles.

Council always intended to develop a green building for its new civic centre but has been challenged by financial constraints. The building is being developed through a partnership with Places Victoria who will own the building. This partnership has allowed Council’s vision to become a reality. The central energy plant will have outstanding carbon reduction benefits.

Degree of Originality and Ingenuity of Solution

The design creates a visual image consistent with Cardinia Shire. Natural, sustainable and durable materials are balanced with appropriate levels of glass and transparency. This creates a building that integrates with its proposed urban context while offering a welcoming face to the community.

Consideration is given to how different building users will flow through the facility.  Public space is open and available to everyone and creates a link between the Council and community.  Whilst public space is primarily located on the ground floor, views from the ground into upper levels provide glimpses of Council activities and a level of transparency.

The office space itself integrates an ABW (Activity Based Working) approach, with Cardinia being the first council in Australia to adopt this flexible, collaborative focused workstyle. ABW is an approach to work that seeks to empower staff to have autonomy, flexibility and mobility within their role based on a sense of accountability where the staff member is conscious of the most efficient, and effective way to complete their job. The flexibility created with ABW will also allow Cardinia employees to work remotely with digital information systems and virtual technologies allowing them to be closer to the community and more mobile and responsive.

The design of the physical space facilitates ABW by providing staff with a range of settings that are focused on specific types of work, from focused work, to more dynamic processing work. A key innovation of ABW is the introduction of formal and informal collaborative spaces that encourage and foster effective collaborative activities. Staff no longer own a desk, but rather have a building filed with a varied range of settings designed to support all work activities. This approach to the physical space creates an efficiency of space usage that contributes significantly to the sustainability of the building providing Cardinia with a building for the future with significant cost savings

Innovative design features contributing to a healthy, productive and sustainable work environment include:

  • The innovative internal design of the civic centre provides Council with the opportunity to introduce Activity Based Working (ABW).
  • Views & outlook maintained for a productive workspace.
  • Atrium provides visual connection for a greater sense of workplace community.
  • Low velocity fresh air delivered from floor vents directly under occupants providing highly efficient displacement ventilation.
  • Activated thermal mass (concrete ceilings) moderated through night time purging provides additional radiant comfort to occupants.
  • Operable windows part of the mixed mode ventilation system providing 90 percent of thermal comfort to 70 percent of occupied hours, with the mechanical assistance remainder being more efficient than a traditional air-conditioned solution.
  • Light shelves to the north throw diffused sunlight deeper into work spaces, reducing the amount of energy required for artificial lighting while maintaining views out of the building.
  • Glazed roofing over the ‘rail hall’ provides access to natural light for occupants while an automated blind system mitigates heat gain as required.
  • Rainwater harvesting from the roof provides enough water for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.

Benefit of the Project to the Community

Consolidating Council’s indoor staff at the new centre location will improve efficiency, increase public access and boost service delivery. Currently, Council indoor staff are spread across different locations and several temporary buildings.

The relocation of the civic centre will offer other benefits for the Cardinia Shire community including:

  • new business and employment opportunities in the Officer town centre
  • bringing more people (and investment) for shopping and recreation to Officer
  • high-quality, convenient and efficient civic and community facilities and services
  • close proximity to public transport
  • a more welcoming environment for the community to engage with Council.

The building will include displays that describe the sustainability attributes, and the environmental performance of the building. These will be located so staff and visitors in the building can see them. Once constructed, Cardinia Shire Council will conduct regular tours with government, business and other stakeholders to share the knowledge gained through the building development. Case studies and presentations on the facility will be delivered as the project progresses.

Lessons from the project will be shared to assist other projects of this nature. There will be much interest in the project, especially in the cutting edge aspects sustainability elements that include the mixed mode atrium ventilation and district energy system as well as the Activity Based Working approach. All aspects of the building are replicable and council will encourage others to follow the example of the development.

The development of the Officer precinct has won Bill Clinton’s prestigious Climate Positive Award due to its environmental attributes. The civic centre development will showcase the sustainability elements that are part of the award criteria.

Officer will develop to include 28,500 residents, and a range of commercial and community facilities. Due to the limited existing population of Officer, the civic centre development will capitalise on the huge opportunity to influence the sustainable design features of future buildings in the precinct.

Program and Project Management

Council at the outset of the project recognised the need to manage its risks on the project.  The Base Building is being provided by Places Victoria under a long term lease agreement.  Appropriate contracts have been prepared and executed that have conditions relating to delivery dates and costs.

For the workplace (fitout) Council recognised the need and the opportunity to change its work practices.

In this regard specialist teams were assembled within Council and with key input from external specialists to deliver the workplace changes, supported by the building fabric and technology.

Cultural change was seen as an essential aspect in ensuring the workplace changes proposed were achieved.

In preparing the team Council was aware of the following major activities

  • Managing the delivery of the Base Building under the contract with Places Victoria
  • Workplace practices and fit out design to support those. practices
  • Cultural change

The Teams assembled were:





Project control group

Council’s Senior Management team

Cultural change

Internal (dedicated) project director

Veldhoen (ABW)

Workplace design

Internal project manager

VEldhoen (ABW)

DesignInc (Architect)

WSP (Services)

RLB (Quantity Surveyor)

Base Building

Internal project manager

Mantric (Architect)

Aurecon (Services)

RLB (Quantity Surveyor)

An important part of the process has been extensive consultation with the staff to ensure the ownership in the cultural change and workplace practice design.  This will continue not only in the design phase but well after the building has been completed and is occupied by Council.

As with all projects cost control is important and Council has engaged a specialist cost consultant, Ryder Levett Bucknell to assist it in this process.  The use of the quantity surveyor and the seeking of quotations for packages have assisted in cost control.

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