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Christou and Aecom in court over building’s green claims

Photo: Christou
Photo: Christou

It was designed with the highest of green ratings in mind, but the City of Canning in Perth is taking design firm Christou and consultant Aecom to court over alleged “misleading or deceptive” conduct regarding the $37 million Cannington Leisureplex’s ecologically sustainable design.

The council leisure centre, which was completed in 2012, was at the time said to incorporate the “most advanced ESD initiatives in Australia”, according to Christou, intended to cut heating and cooling costs.

For example, a geothermal bore was installed to assist heating the complex’s two indoor pools (supplemented with heat generated from the building’s airconditioning), with other features including greywater recycling, a building management system, and smart lighting and blinds.

However, it would appear those savings may not have eventuated, with the City of Canning’s lawyers late last month filing a writ in the Western Australian Supreme Court claiming damages for a number of alleged breaches by Christou and Aecom.

The writ, viewed by The Fifth Estate, claims the two companies have breached their “duty of care” for failing to design the multi-purpose leisure and community facility in Cannington, Perth “with reasonable care and skill”, with the council now seeking damages.

The council is also seeking damages for alleged “misleading and deceptive conduct”, referring to representations the defendants made regarding “the ecologically sustainable development aspects of the design” and “the Green Star rating which could be achieved by the design”.

While Christou’s project statement refers to the project as “the first of its kind to be designed to achieve a 6 GBCA Green Star benchmark”, a search of the Green Star directory does not indicate that any rating has been achieved. The Green Building Council of Australia confirmed that no rating had been sought.

The final claim to do with misleading and deceptive conduct relates to “the effect of the mechanical heating and cooling services in the design”. The council alleges Christou and Aecom’s representations were “misleading or deceptive contrary to the Trade Practices Act 1974 or Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010”.

The council is also seeking damages or “equitable compensation” from Christou for an alleged breach of its “fiduciary duties”.

The amount of damages sought from both parties has not been disclosed.

Christou and AECOM both declined to comment and the City of Canning did not respond to a request for comment.

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