Zero Waste Office


Well, kinda sorta. It's the office fitout of Zero Waste SA (The SA standing for South Australia), which picked up a commendation from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Sustainable Architecture category of the 2006 Architects Award, announced the other month. They add this to their equal first at the South Australian Design Awards. It is always intriguing to see what happens when a enterprise with lofty ideals meets the real world head on. And while their fitout was not zero waste, the organisation is at least pretty transparent about the choices they made. They even have a list of alternative suppliers that they considered before making their final selection of materials and fittings. Read through their open reporting a few unusual items pop up.

One favourite is the strawbale feature wall. A rendered strawbale wall right inside an government office block! "In terms of sustainability, straw bale walls: have low embodied energy in terms of fabrication and transportation, provide good thermal and acoustic insulation, are light and can be constructed quickly and easily, require less trades people in their construction (which can facilitate savings in time, cost and energy)." Such an endorsement must music to the ears of home builders still having to convince local councils that strawbale is a legitimate construction material.The choice of MDF (medium-density fibreboard) was unexpected. But apparently it has modified composition which lessens VOCs (volatile organic compound) emissions, and has been cut such that it can be "readily disassembled and reused," should Zero Waste SA relocate elsewhere or refurbish this office. Their kitchen unit and the workstation desks are not fixed to the the walls so can also be taken along on any move, extending their longevity. Aluminium door frames, although considered high in embodied energy were obtained in a 'mill-finished' or uncoated metal state to eliminate extra processing.

It seems that, within their budget working with commercial constraints, Zero Waste SA office fitout was a green as they could make it. Great to see a government department walk its talk. More detail of their deliberations can be found here > ::Zero Waste SA Office Fitout.

See also our guide for How to Go Green: At Work

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