One of the overlooked markets for the sustainable building is commercial office blocks — these large concrete and glass facades with multiple stories of glass, metal, and plastic as the least sustainable of all constructed buildings, in most cases emitting a load of CO2 into the atmosphere and losing a lot of energy to bad insulation, and bad internal design.

One collaborative approach for changing the way office space is built in Freemantle is being led Harris Jenkins Architects, Josh Byrne and Associates and the developers Yolk Property Group. They plan on constructing a six storey office building that comes with a number of key sustainability features. Amongst these features will be a vertical garden covering half the building’s exterior and a solar PV and a battery storage system with a new commercial greywater system.

The holistic approach of this building is to recycle shower and hand basin water, which will be channeled to the vertical planters surrounding the facade.

The building material of choice will be wood, which at the moment is an expensive commodity in WA, and will not lead to many such projects due to the extensive costs of the building. However, using wood reduces CO2 emissions and also leads to a healthier environment for the tenants.

Pete Adams, the Yolk Property Group director, told the media that “Office workers spend around eight hours a day indoors, often in offices that lack adequate sunlight and fresh air while being surrounded by manmade materials like plastic – this really isn’t a healthy environment.”

What he is referring to is the fact that studies show people are more responsive and productive when surrounded by a comfortable environment that includes wood rather than the sheen of plastic.

Adams went on to state that “Our aim with this project is not just to develop a highly sustainable building but to create an environment that has a positive impact on those within it. We want to reimagine the idea of an office, producing spaces that employees will enjoy spending time in.”

With that in mind, the benefits of using wood were strengthened by Jonathan Harris, Director of Harris Jenkins Architects when he said that “There’s a real exactness, a real clarity, and cleanliness to use timber. To express the rawness of the building and eliminate the wet and messy aspects of some other building materials.”

However, there is one downside, and that was the cost of wood, which Harris succinctly stated as a “small cost implication for this path.”

The project will take 18 months and will provide Strata spaces range from 57 square metres to full floors of 380 square metres. These properties are available to purchase from $347,500, as well as being leased.

The project is fully supported by Freemantle City Council, and the Mayor of Freemantle Brad Pettit concluded with stating that “It’s encouraging to see an increase in highly sustainable projects incorporating timber and natural elements. Sustainable design is not a fad, it is the way of the future, both for the preservation of our natural resources as well as the health and wellbeing of the population.”