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“So much more than just technical sustainability”: Burwood Brickworks opens

The official opening today of Burwood Brickworks, Fraser Property’s new shopping centre in Burwood East, a suburb 19km outside of Melbourne, involved more than the usual speeches by local dignitaries and ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

It was also an “educational affair” with a focus on sustainability and the rigorous criteria of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), which Burwood Brickworks is working to achieve, and which is regarded as the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment.

To achieve LBC accreditation, a building must operate as effectively as a flower – getting all of its energy needs from the sun, using and circulating water, producing no waste or toxicity and looking visually appealing and vibrant.

This has never been attempted in a retail space, according to Frasers Property Australia. In a statement about the launch, the company’s executive GM of retail, Peri Macdonald, said the mere pursuit of LBC accreditation was an achievement in itself.

“The journey we have undertaken in pursuit of delivering an actual living building, something that has never been attempted in the retail space, is an achievement in itself that we are truly proud of, as we continue to work toward accreditation over the next 12 months,” Macdonald said.

Burwood Brickworks’ retail tenants, which include Woolworths and Dan Murphy’s, must also meet the LBC’s strict sustainability requirements, such as using only FSC-certified timber and low-VOC paint.

Rob McCartney, director of format development at Woolworths, said in a statement that the company was delighted to have secured a key retail tenancy in the centre, which aligns closely with its own environmental commitments.

“As Australia’s largest retailer we recognise the environmental impact of our operations and understand we have a responsibility to lead in this space,” McCartney said.

“The opening of Woolworths Burwood Brickworks is a further step in our long-term ambition to reduce our impact on the environment and operate our stores more sustainably.”

Tracey Bailey, founder of Biome, a Brisbane-based eco-friendly retailer that is opening its first store outside of Queensland in the centre, said she carefully considered her fit-out materials to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

The cladding in-store is made from salvaged timber, the floor is polished concrete – the fewer materials used the better, Bailey said – and the cork is from Portugal.

“Since we stopped using cork for wine, the Portuguese farmers that had been harvesting cork are getting financial pressure to grow other crops. Those forests have been there for hundreds of years and they’re biodiversity hotspots,” she said.

The centre also features a living plant installation by Joost Bakker, creative consultant for Burwood Brickworks, and a permanent art installation by Mandy Nicholson, a Wurundjeri, Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illum wurrung woman.

“When we look at the LBC petal requirements, there is so much more that is required than just technical sustainability,” Macdonald said.

“We are looking at things like beauty and spirit, biophilia, urban agriculture and equitable investment which are all factors that challenge the normal procedures and operations of shopping centres globally and align with Frasers Property’s vision to create greener hubs for local communities.”

Burwood Brickworks was designed by Melbourne-based NH Architecture with support on the interiors by North Melbourne-based Russell & George.

The opening day festivities included a traditional welcome to country, performed by Wurundjeri elder Uncle Colin Hunter Jr, acknowledging the land in which the centre was built.

Festivities will continue into the weekend, with food trucks, free gelato, carnival style activations including face painting, stilt walkers and a magician as well as live music.

Free kids’ interactive sustainability focused workshops will be on offer including Pot & Grow and Reusable Present Wrap, and the first 1000 customers through the door on Friday, December 6, will receive a branded ecological gift bag. Customers also will have the chance to win a KeepCup when they spend any amount in centre until Sunday, December 8.

Other anchor tenants open at launch include Reading Cinemas, Cannings Butchers, Choice Pharmacy and acre farm & eatery, which is running a 2000sqm urban farm on the centre’s rooftop.

Little Mandarin Yoga & Pilates, Dogue pet store, Glossed Nails and Norwood Cafe will open across December, with Insight Early Learning and a plethora
of café and restaurants set to open in the new year.

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