New Australian Embassy shooting for the (green) stars

The public discourse around environmental sustainability is seemingly at an all-time high. Queensland’s plastic bag ban, AEMO’s 2040 plan to swap coal-powered energy for renewables and the ABC’s War on Waste, which saw the nation ditch disposable coffee mugs, are all earmarks of a society that has decided green is the new black.

The shift towards an environmentally sustainable mode of living isn’t merely a love affair with hemp shopping bags and a banishment of plastic straws – the focus on Australia’s environmental future is influencing how we design and construct buildings and the materials we use to do so. The new Australian Embassy in Washington D.C will be a testament to our nation’s commitment to sustainable living.

The building has been designed by one of Australia’s oldest architecture firms, Bates Smart, and global engineering firm, Aurecon.

In a press release issued by The Green Building Council of Australia, the prominence of conscious-living are clear to see. Located in the nerve-centre of America’s political happenings, the Embassy will be inundated with natural light, boast an enormous solar-power system, electric vehicle charging ports, an energy-efficient thermal building façade, zoned air-conditioning with heat recovery, end-of-trip cycling facilities and natural water capture and reuse.[1]

Continuing in GBCA announcement, CEO Romilly Madew reinforced how important it is to showcase Australia’s sustainability efforts on a global scale.

“It’s vital our government invests in buildings and infrastructure that showcase our excellence at home and abroad. Such buildings represent the very best of Australian design, construction and products, certified through our own Green Star rating tool.

“The Australian Government’s commitment to achieve a Green Star rating for the new embassy demonstrates leadership in sustainability, showcases our industry’s talent for sustainable design to the world and sends a strong signal we take our commitment to the Paris climate change agreement seriously,” she said.

According to GBCA, on average, Green Star rated buildings produce 62% less greenhouse gas emissions and use 66% less electricity than the average Australian building, recycle 96% of their construction waste and use 51% less potable water than minimum industry standards.[2]

A little more expensive than your reusable drinking straw, the project is expected to cost $236.9 million.[3]

Construction of our new home in Washington is set to begin in 2020 and reach completion by 2022.

Written by Amelia Fynes-Clinton for Globe Group


[1] Green Building Council of Australia, Australian Embassy to showcase Green Star credentials in the USA, Green Building Council of Australia, Barangaroo NSW, July 2018, https://new.gbca.org.au/news/gbca-media-releases/australian-embassy-showcase-green-star-credentials-usa/, viewed 10 August 2018.

[2] Green Building Council of Australia, Green Star, Green Building Council of Australia, Barangaroo NSW, 2015, < https://new.gbca.org.au/green-star/>, viewed 10 August 2018.

[3] D Wroe, ‘Federal Budget 2015: Washington embassy rebuilt as new missions open in Asia’, The Canberra Times, 12 May 2015, https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/federal-budget-2015-washington-embassy-rebuilt-as-new-missions-open-in-asia-20150512-1mzivb.html, viewed 10 August 2018.