Degree Name

Master of Civil Engineering - Research


School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering


This research concerns the delivery of sustainable building projects. These projects are defined as those which either attempt to achieve a green rating or try to address certain sustainability issues. Two sustainability rating systems, Green Star from the Green Building Council of Australia and the Living Building Challenge are considered.

The research examines a number of completed projects and looks at one project nearing completion. These include 18 residential buildings which were the subject of television documentaries in the series Grand Designs. One completed university multi-purpose building (the SMART Infrastructure Facility) and an advanced research facility, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) are examined. The methodology used for these two projects is semi-structured interviewing of key participants and stakeholders. The 18 residential buildings were studied by reviewing the television series episodes against a number of sustainability and construction criteria.

The results show that an additional contingency of 40% of the estimated cost should be considered for residential buildings to enable the project to be successfully constructed. Using professional groups for building design and construction is another key factor to achieve the aim.

The outcome confirms that the SBRC is more innovative and challenging than the than SMART Infrastructure Facility because it achieves the highest sustainability features such as net zero energy and net zero water. On the other hand, achieving net zero energy and net zero water need requires certain specialist equipment which makes the SBRC significantly more expensive than the SMART Infrastructure Facility per square metre.

Finally the results from the interviews show that environmental rating systems are useful tools to construct reasonably sustainable buildings. The interviewees believe, however that for their next project, their concern would be to go beyond strict criteria of the environmental rating system in order to construct a truly sustainable building.