Ecomplish is so proud to have been associated with the GBCA for over 10 years! I remember attending one of the first public forums on the Council’s plans in Canberra back in 2003; I had personally experienced some of the huge gaps in the building industry, that thankfully Green Star now fills. It has been wonderful to be involved and helping to improve some of the credits within Green Star that make it such a dependable and robust certification system. I have also lost count of the number of nation-wide Green Star Assessments I’ve completed for the GBCA; these projects are all amazing in their own rights and are providing the leadership we continue to need in society to address climate change today.
Dec 27 2020
The gorgeous Sunseeker has opened for bookings just in Byron Bay Australia. The amazing rooms can be booked via www.thesunseeker.com.au The owner has incorporated many sustainability features and is a model for others. https://www.thesunseeker.com.au/sustainability Ecomplish was proud to be involved in the project as their sustainability advisor.
Apr 18 2020
YourHome is best sustainable house guide our Government has ever commissioned. The addition of free sample House Designs merely adds to its credentials as an easy-to-use resource for anyone interested in improving their home or considering a new house. It is now easy to build homes that achieve 7.5 to 9 Star NatHERS ratings. Enjoy them, and remember to tailor them to suit your specific block and local climate www.yourhome.gov.au/house-designs #yourhome #sustainablehousing #sustainabledesign #esd #solarenergy #passivedesign #passivehouse #NatHERS
Mar 20 2020
Ecomplish is proud to have just been engaged on another James Cook University design project, this time for the Technology Innovation Centre by KIRK Studio. We cannot reveal much yet but sustainability professionals dsquared and Ecomplish have high hopes. The project is looking to back up its big ESD claims with a nation-leading green building certification.
Design credit: KIRK Studio, Brisbane Australia
Jan 09 2020
To make an organisation or company or building carbon neutral (or even impact positive) the same process can be applied, namely:
MEASURE: Calculate emissions
REDUCE: Develop and implement an emissions reduction strategy
OFFSET: Purchase offsets to compensate for remaining emissions
VALIDATE: Arrange independent validation
REPORT: Publish a public statement of your carbon neutral claim
You can do this yourself and make Carbon Neutral (CN) claims but the ACCC may query your claims if they are cannot be verified. For more on this see the Australia Consumer Law and Green marketing guide.
Several organisations are starting to use the Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard. Using this standard and a Registered Consultant to verify the data and offsets used means they can use of the Climate Active carbon neutral certification trademark, which can be used to demonstrate carbon neutral status and sustainability leadership.
The process to achieve and claim Carbon Neutrality for organisations and buildings differs. Certification for:
- organisations, products and services, events and precincts can be sought through the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy.
- buildings is available through NABERS or the Green Building Council of Australia.
You can try and do much of the preparation and data collection work internally however, you might find it much easier to use consultants who specialise in this and maybe use carbon emission accounting tools that enable repeat tracking and reporting of your carbon emissions.
- If you are a small business the cost of going through the Government certification process can be significant, with costs starting at around $10,000 as demonstrated in the excellent case study by dsquared who a not a large business but are officially certified as Carbon Neutral through the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.
- If you are a medium or large business the journey will certainly set you apart from others, and give you a pathway to constantly reducing operational costs, whilst being much kinder to the environment.
Ecomplish as an example, is a small independent consultancy that already has solar power and LG batteries to provide and store all the power it needs. It also uses an electric car (Tesla) for transport and charges that only with renewable power, hence using virtually no operational emissions. The office also uses its solar passive design (orientation, insulation, shading, high specification glazing, cross ventilation etc) to limit the need for mechanical air conditioning. Hence it could easily be certified as carbon neutral however the administration costs (circa $10k) would be arguably be better spent on actual environmental improvements, which we have undertaken.
For most organizations though, this is not easily achievable so certification is recommended. For business that go down the Carbon Neutral certification path, the advantages include:
- seeing where improvements can be made to improve efficiency, for example installing more energy efficient air conditioning, installing solar power, reducing high emission food catering (preferencing local food) etc,
- any only then, going out any purchasing approved offsets for the remaining emissions. Skipping the first step would merely encourage inefficiency and increase the quantity of offsets required. Indeed the first step can reduce operational costs significantly (typically 5% to 20%).
Examples of large companies becoming carbon neutral include Bank Australia and Lendlease https://www.lendlease.com/au/better-places/lendlease-building-australia-is-now-carbon-neutral/
If you need advice on where to start, feel free to give Ben O’Callaghan a call on 0419409887 or contact us using our contact form. Interestingly, Ben has previously managed multiple carbon offset projects himself in NSW and QLD. He also has a network of trusted professionals that can make your journey to Carbon Neutrality smooth, more rewarding and enlightening.
Dec 05 2019
If you are a developer in the hospitality industry, have you considered using the EarthCheck’s scientific benchmark and certification system to perfect your design and operations? Ben O’Callaghan can now assist as a trained and certified EarthCheck Design Accredited Professional (EDAP). We currently offer free assessments of projects, regardless of their planning or design stage: contact us.
EarthCheck is the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, and is now over 30 years old. Their system has been used in over 70 countries around the world.
Nov 21 2019
After reviewing the electric car options, I opted to purchase the Tesla Model X six months ago and have not regretted it. The technology in these cars has to be seen to be believed. Safety for my family was a key factor, and this car is one of the safest SUVs in the world to that swayed me. However, even the i30 we own has AEB. The Tesla goes further though, with its autopilot features, cameras, multiple sensors, and a low centre of gravity due to the 5000 heavy batteries in its floor. That weight is also a disadvantage of course, as it makes it a very heavy car which requires more energy to move it. It can however tow 2 tonne.
Now that I have a Tesla I’m keen to share it so if you want to hire it you can check the calendar for its availability here https://www.ecobenno.com.au/rent-tesla Schools can also hire me and the car for Future Energy Shows.
One of the biggest pros of the Tesla is its low operating costs. There is NO engine to service, so no spark plugs, radiator, carburettor to break or worry about – in fact only 26 moving parts. Basically you just replace the (big) tyres, brake pads and wiper blades every few years. They say we should service them every 12 to 18 months but a friend hasn’t serviced his Model S for over 3 years because its running so well. The 75D model I have, has dual motors at the front and back. You can put the shopping (or kids) in the front trunk (frunk) if you really want to : ) Most electric cars also cost about 75% less to fuel it (with energy) however because I use my solar panels its basically free to charge it.
Should people buy them? If you want to support Tesla and help lead the transition to 100% electric vehicles then go for it, but remember that they are currently more expensive than traditional ICE cars, so I advise most people to wait until 2024 when price parity will be achieved and the capital costs will be much lower.
I charge my Tesla using solar power from my 6kW rooftop PV array or my SOLAX/LG Chem batteries, or local Queensland Government superhighway or Tesla Superchargers if I’m traveling long distances. Either way its all renewable power so a step in the right direction. Most life-cycle studies indicate electric cars are better for the environment, despite the embodied energy in their batteries, as they don’t require fossil fuels to power them. They also have fewer components and will take over ICE cars very soon.
Apart from the autonomous driving, which allows it to drive itself on open highways with ease, some other outstanding features include the automatic handbrake, a 43 cm touch screen, games, an internet browser (which appeared in the October software update), Netflix, smooth acceleration, great handling, Dancing Car Mode and falcon wing doors (which have pros and cons). On top of all that it includes the standard luxury items such as heated seats, powered seats, automatic headlights and high-beams, keyless entry, fully collapsible seats (you can fit a bed it in, or 7 people). And for fun you can also Smart Summon the car from the other side of a car park, right to your feet. The first Smart Summon in Australia in a Model X was completed by me here.
In summary the car is amazing and beyond my expectations. I’m getting used to it now and hate driving other cars in comparison but realise it is a bit investment at this stage. It has however educated me a lot, and this helps me to understand how charging systems work, where they should go and the various different charge station types, which helps with designing and future-proofing buildings and communities. Also my 13.5kW SOLAX battery system has taught me a lot about the limits of batteries and how important charging times and use are to optimise their capabilities. Their interaction with an electric car also changes they way the solar system should be managed; feel free to contact me if you want more advice on solar PV, batteries and EV relationships; or if you are thinking about an EV purchase, I can get you some free supercharging.
I am looking forward to seeing the Model Y in Australia when that comes out, which is a smaller SUV version and will be easier to park. The other option arriving in Australia soon will be the be the KIA Niro EV, which will be better than the current Hyundai Kona EV.
Here are two videos of my Tesla MX showing off…
Thanks to Tesla for pushing the envelope and leading the market. Someone has to do it.
Oct 15 2019
Congratulations to Loving Hearts childcare centre again for becoming a Finalist in this year’s Banksia Sustainability Awards in the medium business category https://lovingheartschildcare.com.au/sustainability/
Mar 14 2019
Ecomplish is proud to launch the short documentary film (below) we have just finished shooting and producing about the sustainable building called “The Science Place”. This James Cook University $80M centre has been certified LEED Gold.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the world’s most recognised Green Building certification system, with only the most sustainable buildings achieving a Gold rating. Ecomplish and leading Australian Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD) experts dsquared were employed as the sustainable design consultants for the building from 2013 to 2016. Ecomplish was also asked to produce the documentary.
“We took footage of the design and construction process over several years to record is challenges and industry innovations” said Ben O’Callaghan, Director of Ecomplish Sustainability.
“The Green Building Industry is getting better at promoting smart sustainable buildings and this exemplar is a credit to James Cook University and all those involved in its design and construction” said Ben.
The 6-minute video describes the sustainable design features of the building and examples of the university’s leading-edge research embedded in it.
“Both the students and researchers say they love it,” said Ben.
The film was Selected for showing at the Great Lakes International Film Festival in October 2019.
For more information about sustainable buildings and how to design or promote them, feel free to ask Ecomplish.
Want to study in a space like this? You can at JCU:
Jan 01 2019
“Green Star – Communities” is Australia’s most recognised sustainability rating tool for neighbourhoods and precincts.
To obtain a rating for a project, evidence must be submitted demonstrating that the project has been designed to be very sustainable. Preparing a submission can take many hours over a few months; however, there are steps you can take to make that much easier.
Re-certification can also be a tedious process if you don’t start early.
As an independent private Assessor for the Green Building Council of Australia, I review project multiple submissions each year. Several of them have struggled to specifically address some of the credit criteria and do not get credit were they could have.
To make it easier for everyone to plan for or attempt a Green Star Communities rating, I have listed my top 10 tips for making Green Star easy. I hope this helps. Remember that if you need a hand with evaluating green rating tool benefits or preparing a submission, feel free to contact Ecomplish:
1.Start with a sustainability strategy and plan and design holistically: Green Star shouldn’t be used first, as it is a rating tool which rewards best-practice, not a design methodology. So, start with the site and the audience in mind and aim high. Create a Vision, then Principles to support that. Then document the strategy and an action plan to ensure the vision will be achieved. Then, if the project has achieved some best-practices and you can list evidence about them, a Green Star rating will come very easily. For example, if recycling water makes sense across the precinct because water is scarce, and it will be cost effective etc, then plan for that early on and show it in the design. Avoid leaving this too late and ensure the metrics demonstrate how much potable water it will save. Similarly, if you think residents will value a centralised garden, put that in a central location and claim the ‘Local Food Production’ credit point, rather than trying to retrofit it in a poor location years down the track.
2. Start early: By planning early, you can ensure your sustainability strategy will be considered from feasibility to design through to construction and operation. Preferably start this before the site is purchased or at least at concept planning stage. Too many people try to attempt a rating after the Development Application (Permit) has been submitted. This means if the tool reminds the project to consider smarter methods or design innovations, it is too late to update the overall design. For example, if you haven’t arranged for three independent qualified town planners/urban designers to review your site, layout and urban design and incorporated their feedback, then you’ll miss out on some great advice and improvement opportunities, and miss out on being able to claim 8 points in the Green Star Communities design review category, and that is a lot of points! I have seen multiple projects where the review workshops are started too late in the design process or use unqualified people.
3.Experience Counts: Have someone with previous Green Star Communities submission experience on the team. Having a Green Star Accredited Professional (GSAP) is helpful, but many GSAPs do not have Green Star Communities experience or documentation preparation experience. Using someone with substantial experience with the tool will save your project many hours (I estimate savings of 30% to 60%, which could equate to $30,000 to $60,000 and other benefits such as tailored innovations). Green Star submission administration can take a long time, especially if you don’t know the tricks of the trade. Such people also often come with a wealth of sustainable design experience and are well connected, so they can help the project in multiple ways. Having a GSAP on the team and coordinating Green Star before the planning or design starts will also ensure you can achieve the first point in the rating tool.
4. Submit Smart: only submit what the Guidelines require. If you submit hundreds of pages of documentation it makes it harder to find the exact part that will achieve the credit, and it annoys the Assessor. At the start and end of a drafting a submission, go to the Documentation Requirements of the credits you are targeting, and ensure you’ve documented that.
5. Queries: if you are not sure about something ask another GSAP or the GBCA. They are there to help. They may recommend submitting a Credit Interpretation Request (CIR) which can then be reviewed in advance of your submission being assessed. If it is approved, you already know it is likely that the Assessor will be able to approve it too. In other words, don’t submit proposals or suggest alternative methods in your submission, as the Assessors can only use the Guidelines (rules) to assess your evidence. If you cannot meet the Guidelines but believe you can meet the intent of a credit a different way, then get that confirmed by the GBCA early on and it will save you a lot of time and reduce the unknowns.
6. Use experienced sustainability consultants to suggest innovations appropriate for your project. If they are unique, they are more likely to be approved. There are 10 Innovation points permitted under the system so there is no reason why your project shouldn’t be able to obtain many of these points, which will reduce the pressure for the project to achieve other (perhaps harder) credit criteria. Also check to ensure your idea is new to Australia or the world. If you can find other instances of it already in place then the Assessor won’t be able to award the point(s) for it and you would have wasted time generating the evidence for the claim.
7. Evaluate credit options constantly. Use a tool to track each and compare them: Once you have completed your draft concept, list all the credit you think it could achieve. Rule out harder ones. Estimate the costs and benefits of each initiative and then you will have a better idea of which ones would be better for your project to target. Remember however that Green Star is not a decision making or planning too, so always keep the vision and principles of your project at the fore.
8. Make the submission easy to assess. By completing the submission template fully and highlighting the exact text in the evidence that shows the criteria is met, you will be showing yourself and the assessor you know the points should be awarded for that credit. If you make the assessor’s task more difficult by putting in superfluous documentation or not providing exactly what the Documentation Requirements need, then they will need to scrutinise each credit even more thoroughly. Poor credit documentation also means they will have to review all the credits, rather than use the staged approach where only some credits are reviewed. The staged approach means that, if the first 20 or so of credit documentation is near perfect, then the other credit documentation may be only skimmed, and the rating achieved (and much more quickly and easily).
9. Document management: set up an electronic documentation repository that can be accessed by all design team members. Also add an area where any team member or consultant/contractor can add evidence any time. This might be a shared Dropbox, OneDrive or GoogleDrive. Create folders for each credit and place an index at the top. Also create and keep a Green Star tracker spreadsheet in this folder, with the constant status of each credit e.g. 60% chance of achieving 19.2 Skills Development Programs, through X. Naturally, plan regularly monthly meetings to recap on where each credit is at. In between meetings, the GSAP should be ensuring all people with the task to achieve particular credits are also preparing the evidence for the submission as they go, in the right format.
10. Learn from other projects: have a look at the numerous existing Green Star Communities and learn from their lessons. Did their centralised battery storage system work? Are their residents using the car spaces at the community centre or would that money have been better spent elsewhere? How did they approach rain water collection? Some of this information is available publically and it is a shame to waste such valuable experience. After all, they may have already copied ideas you had on your last project too. Indeed, we can only move forward as industry leaders if we keep aiming to outperform, for the benefit of the residents who will live in our leading sustainable communities.
For more advice or assistance, feel free to call us any time.
Oct 23 2018
Loving Hearts childcare centre constructed by Jorgensens, has taken out the Queensland Master Builder’s Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Management Award. Ecomplish was proud to be involved in the project, conducting the first feasibility study in 2015, then managing the sustainable design. We are also engaged to manage the centre’s sustainable operational performance, to ensure the building is optimised and continually delivering as predicted. The project is now eligible for the National Australian Award on November 24. For more see https://lovingheartschildcare.com.au/sustainability/
Oct 02 2018
This year, Ecomplish has been working with a major residential developer to conduct ‘innovation’ focus groups and test a new concept in sustainable living, in three capital cities.
Stay tuned for more information on the potential new premium offering, as the results come in..
Aug 05 2018
Congratulations to Jorgensens Builders for winning the Master Builders Queensland Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Management award – Gold Coast. Ecomplish was proud to be involved as the sustainability manager on the project, which is arguably the most sustainable childcare centre in Australia. More: https://lovingheartschildcare.com.au/sustainability/
Aug 01 2018
Keynote speaker Ben O’Callaghan presented to a full room of 70 residents at Huon Hill on Wednesday night about a visionary grass-roots ecovillage project called Little Springs Village in Wodonga, Victoria. Ben also took the audience through several interesting statistics on Currumbin Ecovillage in Queensland, the most awarded residential estate in Australia. The event was covered by The Border Mail the next day.
A small group of long-time Leneva (Victoria, Australia) friends started taking steps to plan the project after touring Currumbin Ecovillage and falling in love with its vision, community facilities and design. Project Coordinator Kyleigh Andrews opened the event and invited feedback from the attendees and the wider community, so that it could be designed by the community, for the community. The Little Springs Village project is visionary as it aims to deliver several innovations in a peri-urban setting, unique to the area, such as:
- a place for farmers to retire, where they can still lead agriculture in fertile gardens surrounding their homes
- a place for families and those interested in sharing resources, to save on time and money
- infrastructure to support collaboration, health and sharing including a pool, gym, storage spaces and library
- designs support the synergies between younger and older generations using cohousing and ecovillage principles
- a variety of high quality shared equipment such as bikes, tools, trailers, baby strollers, machinery and a variety of share cars
- the highest levels of environmentally sustainable building
- a demonstration project that the local Council can use to promote best practice urban design and educate others
- Ecomplish has been engaged to provide professional advice on the planning and sustainable design of the strategic project.
Jul 24 2018
Local residents and landholders on the coast of Queensland have employed Ben O’Callaghan of Ecomplish to provide professional advice on the planning and design of a new sustainable community. The site is amazing and will provide produce for residents on the fertile soils, near Yeppoon’s coastline, the gateway to the famous Great Keppel Island. Is Yeppoon the Gold Coast of the north?
We cannot say any more right now, but standby for more information as this exciting project evolves!
May 04 2018
Loving Hearts Child Care Centre and Kindergarten has been awarded Australia’s first UDIA EnviroDevelopment rating for a child care centre, demonstrating its industry-leading credentials.
Loving Hearts has been designed and constructed to set a new benchmark in sustainable childcare centre design, construction and operation for Australia.
It is arguably Australia’s most sustainable childcare centre, with over eco-friendly 42 features, many never found in a childcare centre before. For a full list of these features in a PDF file, click here.
“The Loving Hearts centre sets a new benchmark for childcare centres, in an industry sector which has been left behind over the years and suffers greatly from poor design and little time, knowledge or resource to make improvements. Its features also add to the sustainable education experiences available for the children at the centre.” said Ecomplish Sustainability Consultant, Ben O’Callaghan who was the first professional to join the project team in 2015. Ben is still involved operationally, to ensure the sustainability features are paying for themselves.
The owner of the centre set a highly commendable and self-imposed sustainability vision before the start of the project:
“To demonstrate nation-leading Childcare Centre sustainable design and operations for the benefit of the whole community and future generations”
The Vision goes well beyond all minimum levels of compliance required by government legislation and will significantly exceed all energy and water efficiency benchmarks for centres of a similar size according to the Ecomplish who were employed to manage the centre’s sustainable design. Ben from Ecomplish also now conducts sustainable operations monitoring and sustainability training for staff.
The commendable vision was set to:
- Demonstrate the benefits of sustainable childcare centre design to the rest of Australian childcare centre owners and operators i.e. become a case study and example of best practice design and operation for others to repeat and learn from.
- Reduce the impact on the environment of the materials, construction and on-going utility requirements of the centre, for the benefit of the centre, the wider community.
- Significantly reduce the greenhouse gas impacts and toxicity, compared to standard childcare centre buildings, which typically perform poorly because for their sub-standard design and capital-cost focused designs.
- Benefit the children, parents and staff who would use the centre, by ensuring higher air quality through the use of safer materials, enhanced daylight and reduced costs for families.
The building was completed by local builders and childcare centre experts, Jorgensens and the design was undertaken by Cyber Drafting & Design in conjunction with other specialists, including dsquared.
Photo (right to left): UDIA CEO Kirsty Chessher-Brown awards Loving Hearts Managers Jenn and Sandy with the EnviroDevelopment certification.
Photos gratefully provided by Alice Nelson.
May 01 2018
“For too long Governments have focused on funding affordable living, meaning many Australian’s have been left in ‘affordable housing’ apartments with high utility costs. This results from poor design, because developers of affordable housing are not incentivised to focus on passive solar design and reduce heating and cooling costs, whilst increasing things like daylight and natural airflow. Instead, many build cheaply to maximise returns which leaves those who can least afford high on-going building costs with years of expensive bills to pay.” said Ben O’Callaghan some 8 years ago and now Government is starting to listen.
By focusing on long-term affordable living solutions, more can be achieved than focusing primarily on mechanisms to decrease housing capital costs, which is the focus of many affordable housing policies. To help move the industry forward, affordable living solutions of various forms (including requirements for better design) should be also be a focus, instead of merely affordable housing.
The affordable living approach is more holistic and ensures that people can access housing that is so well designed that it enables occupants to experience much lower operational costs, in energy, water and health expenses. For example, solar energy, water efficiency measures and more natural daylight, which can combat depression, or using non-toxic materials to avoid illnesses related to off-gassing materials. Currently the future cost burden is passed on to occupants, as sub-par design makes it almost impossible to reduce utility costs, because orientation, insulation levels and window types etc were poorly considered and are fixed once constructed. The other side effect of poor design is that housing stock needs to be replaced substantially more often which will only accelerate with future changes in climate.
Designers like Smart Urban Villages are planning to provide affordable living solutions, not capital-cost focused affordable housing. The ACT Government is also now considering innovative policies to target the missing-middle through their Housing Choices initiative and specifically their demonstration housing project.
Dec 13 2017
The LEED® Gold Certification is the first LEED rating of any level, for a new building in Queensland. The certification also shows The Science Place has become one of the world’s highest performing and sustainable university science buildings.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
The design and construction team applied holistic ecologically sustainable design principles to ensure the building performs well, all year round.
Internationally recognised architects, Hassell Studio, and James Cook University engaged leading sustainability consultants Ecomplish Sustainability and dsquared to provide sustainability services for the whole project. This ensured the sustainability was considered throughout and the building could achieve its high echelons. The very energy and water efficient building will allow the university to minimise costs whilst providing extremely comfortable science and engineering facilities to researchers and students.
A documentary film is now available on its innovations:
Aug 18 2017
Stage 1 of the Education Precinct building in Kelvin Grove in Brisbane has been completed. Builder Hansen Yuncken are about to commence the structural construction works. The design successfully achieved its 5 Star ‘Green Star’ design rating from the GBCA by leveraging the rating tool experience of dsquared and Ecomplish Sustainability, who have also worked on similar projects for JCU and Hassell.
The $75 million building has been designed by a team lead by Wilson Architects and Scandinavian firm Henning Larsen Architects. For more information contact us or visit: www.wilsonarchitects.com.au/qut-education-precinct/
Aug 16 2017
Congratulations to Lend Lease on their MBA Builders Project of the Year MAJOR AWARD – The James Cook University ‘The Science Place. Completed in March 2017, The Science Place is an $80 million teaching and learning facility which now promotes the sciences and collocates the JCU science community on Townsville Campus to foster interdisciplinary interactions. Ecomplish has also worked on the project for the last 3 years as the Sustainable Design Consultant with dsquared.