Global Change Institute

  • Australia’s greenest educational building and the first carbon neutral building in Australia.
  • The AU$32m building will demonstrate sustainable technological research and will pilot innovative sustainable building solutions.
  • The five-storey building is intended to be naturally ventilated for 88% of the year.

The University of Queensland Global Change Institute has been designed to meet the world’s most advanced levels of sustainability, serving as an exemplar for the ecological transformation of a university campus.

We worked closely with HASSELL, Bligh Tanner, and Medland Metropolis to design a paperless and open-plan building; it provides a Carbon Neutral, Zero Energy, Zero Water and Zero Waste working and learning environment. It is one of the first buildings to be registered for The Living Building Challenge, which will consume 30 per cent the energy of the Green Building Council of Australia benchmark education project.

The building is a showcase of what can be achieved when architects and the whole engineering team integrate their services to deliver cutting-edge design and sustainability outcomes.

Sustainable design innovation

The building features an operable sun-shading and louvered façade to control light and air flow, a cooling green wall which also acts as an air filter, a bush tucker garden and bio-retention basin, onsite greywater system, power exclusively generated by solar energy, and a thermal chimney that draws warm air out of the building. Rainwater storage of 60,000 litres serves the Global Change Institute and Steele building and is used for the hydronic cooling system, kitchen, amenities and showers.

It also features a translucent ETFE roof (similar to the roof used on National Aquatics Centre in Beijing), a central atrium that acts as the building’s lungs, individual comfort control at desks, precast hydronic floor panels that are flushed with chilled water to cool the building and also features recycled blackbutt timber throughout. Optimal natural lighting is supported by environmentally friendly LED lighting.

Clever acoustics and fire engineering

Arup’s acoustic design resolved conflicting requirements for free cross flow of air through the building and significant exposed thermal mass required for sustainable design. This was achieved by designing bespoke acoustic air transfer paths to maintain sound insulation / privacy for enclosed spaces and provision of reverberation reduction using acoustic banners, non-thermal elements such as undersides of stair risers and floating acoustic panels. Suspended acoustic ‘clouds’ also absorb sound without affecting thermal or daylight performance.

Clever fire engineering has assisted the development to achieve a number of sustainability outcomes. Reduction of fire resistance levels through fire engineering calculations assisted the project team to support the use of a geopolymer precast concrete for parts of the structure. An innovative solution developed in collaboration with the structural fire engineer led to the interconnection of two adjacent buildings and a further innovation was the use of open stairwells connecting multiple building levels to encourage the use of internal stairs rather than lifts.


  • View of the atriumOpen gallery

    The central atrium acts as the building’s lungs.

  • Open style campusOpen gallery

    The use of open stairwells connecting multiple building levels encourages the use of internal stairs rather than lifts.

  • Global Change Institute Building at duskOpen gallery

    The Global Change Institute will be a leading centre for discovery, learning, and public engagement.