Council House 2 (CH2) is a multi-award winning municipal office building for about 540 City of Melbourne staff. It was piloted in an effort to provide a working example for the local development market and it has been designed to copy the planet’s ecology using the natural 24-hour cycle of solar energy, natural light, air and rainwater, to power, heat, cool, and water the building. CH2 has reduced CO2 emissions by 87%, electricity consumption by 82%, gas by 87% and water by 72%.

CH2 is located at 240 Little Collins Street, Melbourne 3000. Since its completion in 2006, CH2 has changed the landscape of its local area and inspired developers and designers across Australia and the world. The building has generated substantial interest, with many people keen to see for themselves how its features appear and work.

In 2004, the City of Melbourne was faced with an accommodation dilemma. Staff were housed in dated office buildings which, although centrally located to the Town Hall, were nearing the end of their lifespan.

Rather than relocate staff to alternative offices, Council embarked on an ambitious plan to construct a new office building, Council House 2 (CH2), that would meet its spatial requirements and lead the way in the development of an holistic green environment.

CH2 has been designed to not only conserve energy and water, but improve the wellbeing of its occupants through the quality of the internal environment of the building. CH2 demonstrates a new approach to workplace design, creating a model for others to learn from and follow.

CH2 was designed on the principle that a quality internal environment, complete with fresh air and carefully selected materials, can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of its occupants.

Objectives and beneficiaries

Energy efficiency in CH2 is achieved through an integrated set of features focusing on heating, cooling and water reuse.

Elements that work together to achieve this goal include:
• Design based on ecology and climate
• Natural light
• Cooling system
• Heating system
• Vaulted concrete ceilings
• Western timber shutters
• Window treatment
• Water conservation
• Energy generation
• CH2 waste management

Strong points of the practice

Art is integrated into the fabric of CH2, complementing and extending the building beyond its engineering and architectural aspirations.

Artists were selected to participate in the project via a formal selection process held in October 2003. Selected artists worked closely with the design team during 2004 while developing and finalising their designs. Three artists were also invited to participate in the design charrette at the concept stage. Their challenge was to express a vision that reflected, complemented, and/or questioned the design team’s commitment to sustainable design.

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

From the very beginning, the CH2 project has generated a considerable amount of interest.
The design has been recognised through the awarding of a '6 Star Green Star – Design' certified rating, amongst a number of other industry awards. The completed building was awarded with a '6 Star Green Star – As Built' rating, completing the 6 Star certification for the building through the Green Building Council of Australia. CH2 was occupied and fully operational in late-2006. Since then, staff have enjoyed the benefits of a workplace designed with their health and wellbeing as a prime concern.

Now that CH2 has been completed and actively in use for several years, it is possible to evaluate the performance of the building’s systems. As with any innovative project, evaluation of the success of elements is an ongoing process. The first full year of operation was evaluated independently by the CSIRO and the report is available for download below. The CSIRO report includes analysis from independent consultant Adrian Leaman of Building Use Studies in the UK; it indicates that productivity has improved by an impressive 10.9 per cent.

Replicability potential of the practice