Global Change Institute

The Global Change Institute (GCI) is a University of Queensland organisation researching global sustainability issues including resource security, ecosystem health, population growth and climate change. The conceptual design of a new building to house the institute was undertaken by the project architects, Hassell and Arup Sustainability commencing in 2009.

Figure 1: Casting of the geopolymer concrete panel with the embedded hydronic pipes.

The GCI building was an exemplar project being benchmarked using the Green Building Council Greenstar rating as well achieving Living Building Challenge compliance. The Living Building Challenge assesses the seven performance areas of site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Further design parameters set for the project to achieve zero net carbon emission for building operation. The building is designed to use only 40% of the benchmark Green building Council energy benchmark for an educational building.

Geopolymer concrete precast panels were selected to eliminate Portland cement. The panels were designed with embedded hydronic pipes and vaulted soffits to maximise heat transfer. Dr Aldred of AECOM was the Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) to certify that the propriety geopolymer concrete supplied by Wagners and Precast Concrete complied with the specified materials properties consistent with the values in AS 3600. The GCI Building was the world’s first public structure to successfully use geopolymer concrete for structural purposes. Previous applications were primarily trial footpaths (

Figure 2: Installed vaulted soffit of geopolymer concrete panels which span 10.5 metres.