Feature image for the article 'Regional Building Sets its Sights on Sustainability'

Alcoa is striving to achieve a 4 star ABGR rating for its new Peel Regional Office building and whilst doing so is paving a way for sustainable commercial designs in regional Western Australia to do the same.

Designed by award-winning design firm Hames Sharley, the new facility is one of only a small number of regional offices in this state to be designed to achieve ABGR rating.

Chairman of Hames Sharley, William Hames says the building has been designed to superior energy performance standards maximizing sustainable features including natural daylight, fresh air and reduction of waste.

“From the outset, Alcoa was determined to develop a building that was both environmentally and socially appropriate as part of its global commitment to sustainability,” Mr Hames said.

“In response, our approach to the building design addresses three key points. These include the urban design context to assist integration of the building into the community, imaginative spatial planning to provide employees a great workplace and lastly ecological sustainability and energy efficiency. The overall product is an attractive and bold building that integrates seamlessly with its natural environment.”

The building is broken down into a series of small, single storey pavilions appropriate to a rural town setting. Three departments are housed in separate office pavilions under vaulted steel roofs with large overhangs for solar shading. A central south facing clerestory ridge light also ensures good levels of natural daylight throughout the occupied floor space.

In recognition of the sites’ rich historical linkage with the indigenous people the design has also sought tore-interpret this heritage in the circular meeting rooms which are grouped into masonry elements and protected by a large overhanging roof. The “pod” rooms represent the formation of traditional circular meetings held by the indigenous people at the waterhole adjacent to the building.

The building creates a bold presence in the regional south west town and incorporates colours symbolic of the smelting process. White is used to represent alumina, silver for aluminium and earthy masonry walls and plinths are rendered in bauxite tones.

In the next 12 months the building will undergo ABGR assessment to analyze the levels of greenhouse gases produced and the level of environmental impact. With only two other recognized commercial buildings designed to achieve an ABGR rating in regional Western Australia, Alcoa’s new building could encourage other companies in the region to embrace similar design principles.