Inspired By Nature:The Pixel Carbon Neutral Prototype Office Building

Grocon, a third generation Australian development and construction company, is about to build the world's first carbon neutral office building, complete with fresh air, native grass filtration of rain water, natural daylight, and windows that open!  Sounds revolutionary, doesn't it?



“Grocon’s Pixel Building is an attempt to deliver a prototype “office of the future” that tackles the issue of carbon head on,” reads the Pixel brochure.  And if its plans are successful, by March of 2010, we'll know just how the plans turn out.

Australia's 4-story Pixel Building will be on the site of the former Carlton brewery in Melbourne.  It is designed by the architectural firm of Studio 505 with sustainability experts at Umow Lai.  Grocon is hoping to achieve a 6 Star Green rating, an Australian ministry environmental award, a higher rating than any building of its size has achieved so far.

Here are some of the Pixel building's exciting green features planned:

  • Supply of 100% fresh outside air at a rate three times the minimum Building Code requirements. This air will be distributed through the floor with an individual control at each work station, in much the same way as vents work on a car dashboard.
  • Technology new to Australia to be imported from Europe: an absorption heat pump chiller, to be used to heat and cool the building. The chiller uses ammonia as refrigerant and has no harmful ozone, global warming or legionella emissions. (See Legionnaire's Disease)
  • Very little potable (drinking) water will be consumed in the building with rainwater providing most of the water supply. In an Australian first, grey water (non-industrial, non-waste water) will be recycled through a unique reed bed system that also acts to shade the windows.
  • The building will include exposed concrete ceiling slabs to be cooled via pipes embedded in the concrete and carrying cooled water. This will provide high comfort through radiant cooling while consuming very little energy.
  • Metering will be installed on every floor, rather than just at one point in the building, to monitor all energy and water use – if an analysis shows any irregularities, the energy and water use will be fine tuned.
  • More than 75 per cent of the building’s roof will be covered with native grasses in the form of a green roof. The grasses filter the rainwater and insulate the structure.
  • A detailed Environmental Management plan will be adopted for the project to minimise environmental impacts during construction, with over 95 per cent of construction waste to be recycled.
  •  A raised floor will be used to provide space below the floor for air distribution – it also provides excellent flexibility for future changes in tenant fit-out.
  • Almost all of the floor plate will receive full daylight with external shading designed to limit glare.
  • Materials used to build the office will be selected for low embodied energy and to avoid Volatile Organic Compounds and other off-gassing chemicals that can affect the health of occupants.

The Pixel building also has great access to public transport, and bicycle facilities will be available for employee and visitor bike parking.  All of this sounds too natural to be true!


 Grocon, via Gizmag