Retrofitting for sustainability

The University is improving the efficiency of our existing buildings to reduce emissions.

The built environment is currently the world's single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It consumes around a third of our water, and generates 40 per cent of our waste. This is why the University is working to upgrade existing buildings to meet current needs.

Old Quad

With construction beginning in 1854, the Old Quad is one of the oldest and most significant buildings on the Parkville campus. It originally served as a teaching space for law and arts students and housed the University’s first professorial residences. Old Quad has been modified over the years to support the University’s growth, with the last major addition constructed in 1970.

The first stage of the recent Old Quad redevelopment project was completed in April 2019, re-establishing the building as a centre for civic, cultural and ceremonial life at the University, while showcasing the University’s heritage and history in an architecturally congruent way.

Sustainable features

The project incorporates innovative sustainability measures to help the heritage building meet today’s efficiency requirements. It is the first application in Australia of the adaptive reuse model PassivHaus EnerPHit to a building of state significance. This model provides a method for achieving a comfortable temperature all year round and reducing energy consumption by 70–90%.

The building demonstrates the University's commitment to the environment through incorporating the following:

  • An internal ‘compartmental’ approach adopted, treating the North Wing plus Annexe as separate thermal, airtight envelopes.
  • insulation and airtightness barriers fixed to the inner faces of exterior walls, separated by air gaps.
  • A multi-unit variable airflow air-conditioning system installed that uses pre-cooled air from indirect evaporative cooling units with high-efficiency heat exchange cores.
  • The building’s refurbished windows include secondary internal high-performance layers.

The redevelopment project won the Sustainable Architecture award at the Victorian chapter of the 2020 Australian Institute of Architects Awards.

For more information on the building and its history visit Old Quad.