Breath of fresh air for new Brisbane Campus building

Published: Wednesday 1st July 2015


Brisbane Campus’s new John Paul II building uses high-tech design features to improve wellbeing for staff including carbon dioxide sensors that adjusts the amount of fresh air delivered into high-use areas such as teaching spaces maintaining excellent air-quality.

To further enhance the air quality, the carpets, paints, adhesives, sealants and furniture contain very low amounts of volatile organic compounds, which are associated with risk to workplace health and wellbeing. After hours, the building will purge its air mechanically, to remove built-up contaminants.

Staff and students also benefit from quiet air-conditioning, double-glazed windows, and artificial lights designed to minimise flicker – a frequent source of discomfort and headaches.

And these are rooms with a view with external views onto Brisbane’s extensive grounds available from more than 90 per cent of the usable floor space.

The official opening of the John Paul II building at Brisbane Campus welcomed another highly sustainable building into ACU’s portfolio, supporting the University’s ongoing commitment to reducing its environmental impact while promoting the wellbeing of students and staff who use the building.

The striking design by leading Australian architectural practice, Conrad Gargett, combines sustainable materials with smart technology to cut water and energy consumption well below that of a conventional building and deliver an indoor environment tailored to support the productivity and health of the occupants.

Early in the building’s design stage, ACU’s Properties Directorate and the architects identified the need to deliver a building that contained not only high-quality teaching and administrative spaces, but that could also operate efficiently and reliably in Brisbane’s year-round heat and humidity.

The only way to control the impact of that heat and humidity on the campus’s many mid-century buildings is with air-conditioning and plenty of it, which is why Brisbane campus has ACU’s lowest energy-efficiency.

The John Paul II building changes all of that, beginning with the glass façade (pictured). The highly reflective glass functions as a buffer to the sun’s rays to limit the amount of heat that radiates into the building and cutting the sun’s glare for occupants. To manage the heat that inevitably enters the building, highly efficient chillers and fans drive the air-conditioning.

Meanwhile, the lights in the John Paul II building use minimal power and are linked to motion sensors that switch off lights in rooms that are unoccupied. 

To building also has water tanks that collect rain water syphoned from the roof, for use in irrigation of the surrounding gardens and for toilet flushing. And the toilets and taps throughout are among the most efficient available on the market.