Case study: RMIT Design Hub

University achieves water-sustainability goals.

By Peter Harbour, PhD, and Robyn Overall, PhD, CJ Arms and Associates, Port Melbour July 22, 2016

The RMIT University Design Hub was developed in Melbourne, Australia, to support the university’s position as an internationally renowned leader in design education and research and encourage industrial collaboration (see Figure 4). Water sustainability was intrinsic to the building design, with an integrated rainwater collection scheme collecting rainwater from the main building roof as well as the expansive forecourt area. An analysis of the water demands for RMIT Design Hub identified that toilet flushing is the highest portion of the demands (44%) and the greatest opportunity for water savings. Therefore, the reclaimed water is treated and reticulated throughout the building for toilet flushing.

The stormwater runoff from the forecourt area is passively treated through media filtration at the source, eliminating the need for a mechanical plant, reducing the overall energy demand, and providing water suitable for toilet flushing. The building includes provision for connection to an external precinct-wide recycled water system as well as provision for exporting wastewater if required, providing the facility with flexibility and future integration within the wider precinct and RMIT campus. These measures provide average water savings of 268,000 gallons per year. The water-sustainability initiatives have been an integral part in the facility being awarded a 5-star Green Building Council Australia Green Star building rating.

Peter Harbour is a senior scientist at CJ Arms and Associates.

Robyn Overall is water sustainability scientist at CJ Arms and Associates.