Ecologically Sustainable Buildings

Ecologically Sustainable Buildings

Ecologically sustainable building

Buildings and major infrastructure have a significant impact on the environment during demolition, construction and on an ongoing basis during operations.  

Through selecting sustainable building materials, reducing wastage, recycling and using recovered material, the embodied environmental impacts of developments can be drastically reduced. 

Incorporating principles of sustainable design, including building orientation, ventilation, daylight, can ensure help to improve the buildings comfort levels, and thereby reduce the need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling.  

The use of biology and natural systems, can provide insulation on rooftops for example through green roofs or even treating water naturally through the use of specific vegetation and sediments for drainage.  

Did you know? The built environment accounts for 40% of Australia’s total carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. It also consumes a third of our water and generates 40% of total waste. 

Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD) considerations

At Taronga we incorporate ESD principles in all new developments. We have an ESD checklist, which we use to identify specific considerations and opportunities for each development, in consultation with the project manager and the architect. 

For suitable and larger developments, they might undergo the process to secure a formal green building certification, such as GreenStar.

Green Star certification

Launched by the Green Building Council of Australia in 2003, Green Star is Australia's only national and voluntary rating system for buildings and communities. Taronga has two GreenStart rated buildings, the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning, and the Taronga Wildlife Retreat (currently under construction).

Green Star – Design & As Built assesses the sustainability outcomes from the design and construction of new buildings or major refurbishments, across nine holistic impact categories. 

On average, Green Star buildings are said to produce: 

  • 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian building 
  • consume 51% less potable water than minimum industry standards 
  • recycle at least 96% of the construction and demolition waste. 

The Taronga Institute of Science and Learning

The Taronga Institute of Science and Learning is a Green Star Design & As Built, 6 Star Certified building, a status awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia. A 6 Star rating is the highest possible rating and signifies world leadership in sustainable building practices. 

Key sustainable features of this development include: 

  • the use of recycled water for toilet flushing and irrigation 
  • a solar PV rooftop installation that will provide a clean source of energy on site 
  • a gas boosted solar thermal installation which will meet the buildings hot water requirements 
  • passive design in the foyer area, to avoid having to implement air conditioning systems 
  • specialized louvres to reduce solar radiation penetrating the building, helping to keep optimal temperature levels 

We are proud to have achieved this leading sustainability status for a building that will be home to our educational programs, providing students with a real life example of the positive actions that can be taken to support conservation and sustainability. 

The Taronga Wildlife Retreat

The Taronga Wildlife Retreat which will have 58 rooms & 4 suites, is currently in construction phase. ESD principles have been incorporated into planning for the building, which is striving for a Green Star Design & As Built, 5 Star rating.

The development will offer a unique immersive experience giving people the opportunity to learn about native wildlife, the threats Australian species face, and be inspired to become conservation champions.

Key sustainable features of this development include: 

  • the use of recycled water for toilet flushing and irrigation 
  • a solar PV rooftop installation that will provide a clean source of energy on site 
  • constructed using Cross laminated Timber (CLT), which has a smaller footprint than other building materials  
  • several e-water (electrolyzed salt) systems will replace synthetic cleaners and chemicals, thereby reducing our chemical footprint 
  • designed to reduce heating and cooling requirements 

Once completed, the Taronga Wildlife Retreat will offer domestic and international visitors a uniquely Australian experience, allowing them to  immerse themselves within indigenous culture and wildlife, in an ecologically sustainable manner.  

Did you know? The Taronga Wildlife Retreat will be the first Green Star rated accommodation within a zoo environment.