Ross House is the only self managed and community owned non profit building in Australia and has been an important part of the social justice and environment community in Melbourne for over two decades.
The five storey heritage listed Ross House building in Flinders Lane is of great architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria. The building provides affordable, accessible office space to over 50 small non profit groups working towards environmental and social justice. As a part of Ross House, small community groups have access to networks, shared resources and shared experiences, allowing them to realise their potential. It is a place for community groups to grow, connect and evolve.
Developing Sustainable Practices
Ross House has long been committed to upholding an environmentally friendly policy in all aspects of its services. The building and its occupants have expressed a strong interest in setting a benchmark as a high performing building when it comes to energy and water.
To achieve this, the heritage building, originally built as a large commercial warehouse, has a number of modifications to be implemented to bring it up to building code standards and provide a sustainable, green and efficient workplace environment. The high ceilings, leaky facades and high volume of coexisting offices had resulted in a number of ineffective systems and practises, desperate for improvements.
The help of Arup was enlisted to analyse the environmental performance of the heritage building. An assessment of all water and energy consumption was undertaken, looking at current condition and performance of the building, as well as overall indoor environment quality. From here, a number of Arup graduates were able to develop a range of strategies to enhance the efficiency of the building. Opportunities in renewable energy technologies, efficient hydraulic systems and improved indoor environment quality were identified and presented to the client. These included methods such as daylight harvesting; where luminaries switch off automatically with sufficient natural daylight, installing rainwater collection tank for recycled water, and implementing a system to measure noise levels, to address issues identified by tenants and to improve indoor environment quality.
It was also recognized that in a diverse work place such as Ross House, where opinions and motivations about environmental concerns vary, it is important to strike a balance between empowering those who are willing to engage in more green way of working and engaging those who take environmental resources for granted. With this Arup looked to provide a number of strategies to engage staff and encourage a collective commitment to sustaining the building.
Together with the work accomplished by Arup, and the help of Slattery Australia Surveyors, a comprehensive report was completed outlining actions that can be taken and their complementing cost estimates.
This report has been used by Ross House to apply for a grant from the Community Energy Efficiency Program, in hope of gaining funds to implement suggested strategies. With the future development of the building, Ross house hopes to become a model for sustainability for other community organisations.
Ross House Association has engaged Arup to undertake an assessment of the five-storey building, Ross House, at 247-251 Flinders Lane Melbourne, to identify potential improvement to the performance and condition of the building.