Here we talk with WWF-Australia’s Facility Manager, Natalie Roberts about the Green Star process, and in the accompanying film CEO Dermot O’Gorman discusses the importance of Green Star for WWF and takes us on a tour of their new offices.

I: Why is it important to WWF that the organisation is Green Star accredited?

NR: It aligns perfectly with our global mission and values, and is a great way to demonstrate to our staff and supporters our ongoing commitment in reducing our ecological footprint.

What are some of the key things you did to make your new office green?

Wherever possible we chose to reuse items, bringing new life into out-dated office furniture. The office has been designed with natural materials, we’ve used organic colour schemes, indoor plants and timbers to remind people of our connection to nature.

What information did you find online that really helped to establish the Green Star process for WWF?

There are a lot of free tools online that have helped me to move in the right direction but the one I used the most was the City of Sydney Better Buildings Partnership. They have produced a leasing life-cycle assessment tool which goes through site considerations, selection, heads of agreement, fitout, design construction and more. The site really walks you through each step and helps with information and partners, and they are also available on the phone if you need clarification.

What were the first steps?

We initially looked at over 60 properties, however our design brief specifications enabled us to clearly highlight which properties were suitable for us. Once we had found our top two options, we engaged Arup to assess the capacity of the space against the Green Star rating tool. The engineer conducted an audit of both sites and gave us a strong indication of what was achievable in the base building and tenancy fitout. Arup presented us with an in depth assessment and gave us the information we needed to make an informed final decision.

How did the Green Building Council’s assessment impact the design?

Because we had engaged an engineer to assess the building, our initial design brief to Intermain was already based around modelling towards Green Star. It was post our brief when we were given a unique opportunity to be the Pilot for the new Green Star Interiors Version 1. The most surprising thing for me was how achievable it is to overlay the new Green Star approach onto our existing plan.

Materials and furniture decisions are key to gaining Green Star credits, what was the process for selection?

We worked closely with Intermain on the design and once the design was signed off we then worked collaboratively to find suppliers that would work well and would benefit our Green Star points. Intermain has gone above and beyond their original scope to find the right products and materials that meet the Green Star credits. So working with the right team is really essential as it’s a detailed process.

Did you have an external Green Star Professional to help along the way?

Yes, we selected Karen Garrett of DesignEco to walk us through our Green Star Pilot submission. She went through the eight categories and assessed what we needed to achieve. Some things were straightforward but where we couldn’t meet the credits we looked to other areas where we could. The new Green Star Interior Version 1 has been designed to reduce accountable paperwork by 80% from the old version so it’s much less time consuming.

You mentioned GECA furniture and materials, what is GECA?

GECA stands for Good Environment Choice Australia and they provide a full life-cycle assessment. They have a really wide range of furniture and materials and they not only look at where this line of organic material has come from, but also look at the processes, the factory and how it is governed. They are completely holistic.

How did you approach your energy usage, and particularly lighting?

The advice we took was to use motion sensors and we had an energy monitoring system available. Lights were key. Green Star also requires a plan of what you are doing to reduce your energy consumption. We are now going through an external energy assessment for our Green Star accreditation.

Were there any surprise outcomes for you?

Yes, we met some amazing suppliers who have built their businesses around sustainability. The refurbished office furniture supplier, Joyce Seeho from Office Spectrum, is dedicated to sourcing ex-corporate office furniture and rescues it before it goes to landfill. Her business is about saving it, reusing it and selling it as a refurbished product. It’s a fantastic model that meant we were able to source nearly 80% of our furniture that way. That’s a huge saving of furniture that would have previously gone to landfill.

Intermain was nominated for a 2013 BPN Sustainability Award for the fitout of WWF-Australia’s Sydney office.