Block E of Trevor Pearcey House building was a 19 year old building in Fern Hill Technology park, Bruce ACT. The refurbished block E has become the new head office for Australian Ethical Investment (AEI), a financial services company specialising in environmental and socially responsible investment. The refurbishment received six stars from the Green Building Council of Australia – this represents world leadership in environmental design. At the time it was the first building in the ACT, and only the third in Australia, to achieve a six-star rating from the GBCA.
Through a cooperative design approach, the project has been sculpted into a high-class sustainable building which is humane and liveable. It appeals to general instincts of how buildings should feel and look without resorting to gimmickry. The resulting form and appearance is a reflection of all the elements which interact on its design – structure, environment, people and location. One the aspects that sets the project apart from most high-level environmental buildings is that it was achieved using conventional low-technology design principles and on a conventional budget.
The refurbished building has been developed to maximise the use of natural ventilation and lighting and to minimise energy use. This has been done relatively simply by insulating the outside of the existing façade, insulating the existing roof, reorganising and modifying sun shading, replacing existing fixed windows with new double-glazed operable windows, exposing thermal mass, improving daylight penetration and reusing materials. Environmental initiatives cover all areas of the building design such as management, waste, transport, water, indoor environment in addition to the systems mentioned above.
One of the notable achievements in the building was the amount of recycling achieved. The existing fitout was carefully deconstructed and then adaptively reused in the refurbishment. Reuse items included metal studs, plasterboard, carpet tiles, doors and door hardware, joinery cupboards, ceiling tiles, light diffusers, glass blocks, internal glazing, insulation, power point plates, cabling, furniture, workstations, ductwork, diffusers, return air grilles (for natural ventilation), computer racks, boiling water units, kitchen sinks and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. Steel hanging frames and mesh from the ceiling were used to make a bike enclosure. Sun shading on the external faces was reorganised instead of being replaced (only some of the mesh within the frames was exchanged and the old mesh was used in the bike enclosure). New items installed were predominantly recycled such as, entry mats made from old car tyres, recycled timber floor and wall boarding, recycled timber reception countertop, recycled carpet tiles, recycled insulation made from PET bottles and pin boards from recycled newspaper.