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A Living Building

By March 4, 2022July 12th, 2022No Comments
Ariel photo of Glenroy Community Hub

The Living Building Challenge is the most rigorous benchmark of sustainability in the built environment. It challenges building projects to create a positive impact on their site, while operating as beautifully and efficiently as a flower.

Living Buildings are:

  • Regenerative buildings that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community
  • Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site
  • Create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them

The Living Building Challenge is composed of 20 Imperatives grouped into 7 petals which include:

  • Energy
  • Equity
  • Place
  • Beauty
  • Water
  • Health + Happiness
  • Materials

The Glenroy Community Hub has committed to achieving ‘Petal Certification’ through specifically targeting the Energy, Equity, and Beauty petals.


The Glenroy Community Hub is a net positive energy building. It generates more energy than it consumes.

A 250kW solar panel system provides clean, renewable energy to the hub. To minimise energy use the hub has  very efficient lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.

The hub also has 64kWh of battery storage that allows the development to power critical services for up to one week during an emergency.


It is hoped the hub will cultivate a stronger and more connected community.

By combining health and education with recreation and community facilities, residents of all ages will have many reasons to pop into the Hub.

Over time, multiple visits will forge new friendships, bringing benefits to the whole community as well as individuals. In time, Glenroy’s new heart will build a healthier, more capable, and more cohesive community.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere at the hub is a high priority. The hub team understands the importance of offering all residents friendly pathways to education, health, and well-being services. Having multiple entry points to the hub  means that people of all abilities can approach and enter the hub easily and with dignity.

To encourage reading and research as well as recreation and social activities, a choice of comfortable lounges and seating areas are spread throughout the library.

We have created a dedicated space where young people in Glenroy are welcome to hang out.The imaginative repurposing of the heritage school building is a new gathering point for young people to foster their sense of belonging and ownership.

Outdoor facilities are included to encourage casual gatherings with BBQs, playground equipment and open space for games. Plenty of outdoor seating was provided in response to enthusiastic community feedback.


The garden landscaping includes a diverse range of exotic, native and indigenous plants. Reproducing the indigenous level of plant biodiversity in terms of the number of plant species present. The experience is intended to delight and inspire visitors, as their eyes are drawn to pops of green foliage, natural elements and patterns.

Plants cannot be poisonous or cause irritations due to it being a public site and a centre for early childhood education.

Plants need to be able to deal with the heavy, fertile soils, although drainage has been improved. Plants also need to tolerate hot, dry, windy weather. Rainwater collected at the hub can be used on the garden. Recycled mulches are used to prevent evaporation.

Plant replacement is a normal part of the ongoing care of landscapes, and it is expected that over time some plants will thrive, and others will be replaced, depending on the type and level of management and care they receive.  In the community garden, seasonal plantings will naturally turn over.

A range of existing trees on the site were kept.  This included larger older trees that will provide some shade, and habitat for wildlife.  A single, large, locally indigenous, possibly self-seeded Redgum was retained.

The perennial planting throughout the early learning centre and Bridget Shortell Reserve uses exotic species for some species of trees, and in the sensory planting in the kindergarten and children’s centre.  Typically, this is done to provide smaller, safer, and deciduous trees than large native evergreen species, but also to provide the additional colour and seasonal variation they bring, along with a recognition of the cultural diversity of Glenroy.  Many bird species have adjusted to living amongst this modified landscape.

Where suitable, either native or locally indigenous trees, shrubs and understorey plants have been used as they tend to be the best adapted to the natural conditions.  They tend to be hardier, need less water and nutrients to thrive than exotic plants.  They deal with the poor drainage and need no supplementary application of nutrients.  They can provide suitable habitat particularly for insects and small reptiles.


Glenroy Community Hub is conceived with a vision of connecting our community through a garden experience. While there are many elements in the architecture that offer beautiful, genuine and joyful moments, the gardens, indoors and out, are likely to be the defining experience for most visitors to the hub. As visitors move through the building and nearby parklands, they will encounter many views of abundant greenery, diverse gardens and the sky. This approach is known as biophilia – when human beings’ innate connection with nature and other living beings is integrated into a design. The experience is intended to delight and inspire visitors, as their eyes are drawn to pops of green foliage, natural elements and patterns. The extensive use of timber and even the high-level windows are all part of the biophilic design. The library windows are arranged so that sunlight creates patterns of light and shadows in gentle motion during the day, connecting building users with time and the changing seasons. On a practical level, the natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting and provides plenty of daylight, saving energy and allowing the indoor plants to flourish.

In a building that strongly connects with nature and the outdoors, the local history and cultural legacy of Glenroy Community Hub are as important as the building. Glenroy Primary School once stood on the site. Acknowledging that Glenroy children attended school here for generations, the heritage part of the old school building has been retained and is now repurposed as a youth centre. Similarly, the school’s old bike shed has been reborn as a café. Its walls will display a mural by local artists that celebrates locals’ stories and historical links to the site’s former life as a school ground. Artists have been commissioned to work with the community to gather neighbourhood histories. They will create short films in collaboration with the local primary school that celebrate local identity for display in the hub.