Construction Issues

An awareness of green building issues included the construction processes. In an effort to reduce wastage, minimise materials and a consciousness of cradle-to-grave costs, the following were implemented —

• with a significant amount of the building deconstructed prior to rebuilding, as much as possible of the existing structure was retained, including most of the western wall and a large section of the roofing structure. Where window openings were retained, existing window assemblies, where possible, were reglazed and painted to match new
windows, whilst other openings and the main stair were also retained as part of the new scheme;

wherever possible, demolition and packaging materials were separated for recycling, taking advantage of the services of the Council’s extensive Recycling Depot. This included separation of glass, concrete, timber, bricks and rubble, as well as paper and plastic packaging. These were then forwarded on as part of Council’s recycling program, such as rubble reused for fill, and timber sold off for use by local builders. A substantial amount of the original fitout was also sold off and removed for use by other builders and collectors;

asbestos was found on site within the original fixout, and removed with full OH&S compliance, and contained within a ‘tented’ area during demolition prior to removal for off-site burial;

implementation of Ultra-floor slab system reduced construction time as well as the amount of concrete and steel employed (and therefore costs and impact). The ribbed system, as wella s reducing concrete volume, also therefore allowed extra head room due to the thinner ability of slabs between floors. This was highly beneficial given the restriction of the existing poor height differences between floors; new voids on the upper level were a result of a design decision to reduce the contact between old and new slabs at first floor level, with ‘bridges’ connecting the slabs across at several locations. Minimal connection ensured less opportunity for movement and minimal cracking potential between the different slab qualities and ages. This also made construction easier, and was cost effective due to the reduced need for merging of the two slabs and therefore less concrete, as well as the added benefit of increased daylight penetration to the lower level;

Product Selection

Where possible, within the limitations of budget and the Council’s adaptability to change,

products were selected for their reduced impact on the environment as well as enhanced

health benefits. These included —

• external walls (all new walls, as well as existing walls made accessible during construction), were insulated with wool bulk insulation (R3.5 ceiling, R2 walls) in lieu of fibreglass, given the latter’s unresolved health issues;

• HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) was used instead of PVC for all drainage and plumbing, again in light of the relevant unresolved health issues of the chlorine content of standard PVC fittings;

• natural linoleum use for flooring in lieu of vinyl which normally contains PVC;

• timber selected only from plantation grown supply, without use of rainforest or imported timbers;

• the new Council Chamber furniture was locally crafted from old bridge timbers from the original Cowra Bridge;

Additionally, local and/or Australian-made products were given preference to imported

products and materials.