By Caimin McCabe

Suzanne Cory High School is one of the two new selective entry schools in Melbourne. The design challenge was to create an exceptional learning environment which also acted as an environmental learning resource. As environmental design consultants and building services engineers, Cundall collaborated with Brand Architecture to create not only a building that reduced its impact on the environment, but also demonstrated sustainable design in action.

In a recently published article in AIRAH’s Ecolibrium, Caimin McCabe shared his experience of designing this school, below is an extract from this article.

  1. It is possible to design a school that can maintain acceptable year-round comfort without the need for active cooling, if a climatically responsive design approach is adopted.
  2. An outcome-focused sustainable design solution can be achieved with a Department of Education and Training (DET) budget if a truly integrated, holistic and collaborative design approach is adopted.
  3. Selective environmental modelling should be undertaken to test the effectiveness of proposed design solutions to understand the quality of year-round comfort that could be expected, to both refine and improve design responses.
  4. To better serve the schools, DET should take a more commercial approach to the release of the contract bond typically held back until the end of the 12 months defect liability period. It should be used as leverage, as intended, to ensure all identified defects are rectified satisfactorily before being released.
  5. For new schools to deliver on their performance intent, DET should invest in building tuning during the first 12 months of operation.
  6. Although a Building Users Guide (BUG) was prepared for the school as part of the Green Star rating, this was written to directly respond to the associated credit compliance criteria – whereas the school would have benefited from the BUG providing better guidance on operational management. This highlights the potential benefits of adopting a tailored DET “Soft Landings” approach to building handover.

To find out more about Cundall’s involvement in Suzanne Cory School click here.

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Building Services Engineering, Caimin McCabe, Education


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