U City tops South Australia’s Green Star charts

Uniting Communities chief executive Simon Schrapel at the U City construction site.
Uniting Communities chief executive Simon Schrapel at the U City construction site.

Uniting Communities’ “U City” mixed-used development in Adelaide has scored more Green Star points than any other South Australian development.

The 20-storey, $100 million building under construction in Adelaide’s CBD this week was awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating.

“With a design rating of 84.9 out of a possible 100, the U City development represents world leadership in sustainable design and has achieved more Green Star points than any other project in South Australia,” Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said.

The mixed-use development will feature retirement units and specialist accommodation for people living with a disability, as well as commercial space, a function centre, retail and social services, including crisis support, youth services, family and relationship counselling, and services for older people and those living with a disability.

Key design features leading to the rating include an embedded electricity network, 55-kilowatt solar system, cross ventilation through all living spaces, shading and double glazing to reduce heat load, water-efficient fixtures and fittings, bicycle racks, a community bus service and five electric charging stations. Uniting Communities also underwent a lifecycle assessment of all building materials, selecting more sustainable options where possible.

Artist’s impression of the U City development.

Announcing the award, South Australian sustainability, environment and conservation minister Ian Hunter said the community services organisation had gone above and beyond just providing affordable energy and water to future residents.

“This is genuine leadership in reducing consumption of natural resources and lowering carbon emissions, and we’re delighted with their passion and commitment,” Mr Hunter said.

“Our overall goal is about working towards creating more sustainable buildings and communities across South Australia. We hope U City will now be a great example for others to follow.”

Uniting Services chief executive Simon Schrapel said the company was proud to receive the certification.

“I would have to say this process has not been without its challenges,” Mr Schrapel said.

“But as an organisation we are committed to world’s best practice as part of creating this unique community offering.”

One particular challenge was the cladding scandal, which last year forced the building designers back to the drawing board on the facade.

About five per cent had included aluminium composite panels with polyethylene core, but Mr Schrapel last September said “safety and confidence in the building’s integrity” necessitated the removal of all these elements.

“They may well be fully approved for use in Australia, but with the memory of London’s Grenfell Tower disaster still fresh we have gone back to the drawing board with our builders to ensure no such material, however small, will be used in U City.”

Uniting Communities is the first South Australian organisation and first Australian charity to be certified carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Scheme, and was last month appointed the inaugural ambassador for the Carbon Neutral Adelaide program.

“This recognition from the Green Building Council of Australia is testament that in addition to our carbon neutral status, we have a tangibly genuine commitment to sustainability and the outcomes it achieves,” Mr Schrapel said.

The building is expected to be completed in 2019, and will then be re-assessed to satisfy the “as built” element of Green Star.

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