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Claudelands: Sustainable building

On first glance that pile of concrete rubble and mound of dirt currently visible on site at Claudelands are exactly just that…but dig a little deeper and you’ll learn these are just some of the many environmentally sustainable design elements that have been factored into this significant project.

The $68.4 million development of claudelands is recognised as one of hamilton’s most significant public projects over the next 10 years and carries the obvious benefits of enhancing its existing business and of attracting new, exciting events to the city. Not so obvious however is the development’s strong focus on environmental sustainability – which has been factored into the design, construction and ongoing operation of the facility.

Considered to be a leading demonstration of how well sustainable design can work for a building, the environment and the community, Claudelands has incorporated Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) elements into all phases of the project – from the design and construction, through to the ongoing operation of the venue.

Claudelands development and commercial director Mark Christie said the project aims to balance the creation of a high quality urban design, with the desire to minimise the impact on the environment.

“While there is no official green-star rating system for event centres, we are aiming to achieve an equivalent 4star-plus standard using the New Zealand Green Building Council standards as a guide, which is something we are very proud of,” he says.

“Environmentally sustainable design is a fairly new concept, particularly for event centres, so it is exciting for us to be entering a new decade with a strong focus in this area and to be setting an example for others looking to carry out developments of this kind.”

One ESD feature that is already clearly visible to the public is an earth bund situated on the north-western corner of the oval, adjacent to Heaphy Terrace. Formed using earth that was excavated to make way for the arena foundations, the bund enables this material to be reused onsite, avoiding wastage and costs associated with carting the soil offsite.

“The bund also has obvious operational benefits. It acts as a natural sound buffer between the oval the neighbouring properties and provides seating for spectators wanting to watch activities on the oval,” says Mr Christie.

The earth bund is being grassed and will be landscaped to bring it is in line with the project’s landscape plan, which outlines a desire to ensure the development integrates with and enhances the property’s existing green space.

“Compared to many other event facilities, Claudelands is unique in that it is located in the centre of a large city but still has plenty of green space and established vegetation around it. This is something we are determined to preserve and enhance wherever possible along the way,” says Mr Christie.

“For example, we’ve worked to retain as many of the established trees on the property as possible. During an early stage of the development it appeared that three trees would have to be removed along Brooklyn Road to accommodate a new service area, however after further investigation we came up with an option which allowed one of the mature trees to remain in place.”

Throughout the course of the project a total of 8841 new shrubs and 103 additional trees will be planted on site. While exotic varieties will be included amongst the new plantings, native vegetation will also feature strongly and tie in with the nearby Jubilee Bush.

Establishment of grassed car parking areas will also prove functional while maintaining the natural look of the area.

Another ESD element included throughout the construction phase is use of concrete crushing to allow reuse of material from some of the venue’s old structures. Crushed onsite, the concrete is being used as infill throughout the property – once again avoiding the cost and environmental impact of having to transport all this material off site.

When it comes to the design of the new venue, everything from minimisation of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, to water conservation and use of environmentally friendly materials has been considered.

Water conservation methods will include the use of roof storm water for toilet flushing and installation of low water use sanitary fixtures.

“Due to the older storm water infrastructure that exists in the Claudelands area, it is necessary for the venue to hold stormwater on site,” says Mr Christie. “This will be kept in storage tanks for toilet water use and irrigation, as well as to allow a delayed release into the stormwater system. We are currently exploring various options for setting up this system, and are looking for the most cost effective and environmentally friendly method, as well as the option that will aesthetically complement the new development.”

Installation of high efficiency air conditioning systems, energy efficient lighting and lighting control systems, and installation of the latest LED street and pedestrian lighting will all help to minimise the venue’s energy usage.

A trial carried out in Hamilton last year found that LED street lighting used 44% less power compared to conventional lighting, while giving up twice as much light. Described as a “different and better white light”, the LED street lighting is praised for improving driver visibility and pedestrian safety. This model of lighting also allows precise control of spill and waste light, contains zero levels of mercury or lead, heavy and dangerous metals often found in lighting products, has a long-life of around 20 years and is 95% recyclable.

Environmentally friendly products, carbon dioxide reduction through CO2 monitoring and control, and an emphasis on recycling are just some of the initiatives that will be in place for the ongoing operation of the venue.

“We are currently in the process of compiling a comprehensive waste separation and management process to reduce landfill,” said Mr Christie.

The venue’s resident caterer, Montana Catering, will also be doing their part by reusing cooking oil to fuel their vehicles.

“As part of the operation of the facility we also intend to encourage less reliance on private motor vehicles by promoting alternatives such as walking, cycling and use of public transport.”

This focus will see the venue work in partnership with the Hamilton City Council transportation unit to educate and encourage better use of public transport, including alternatives such as the utilisation of parking nodes away from the city centre and bus shuttle services.

Future projects, including a proposed cross city pedestrian link from the central city across Claudelands Bridge and improvements along O’Neil Street to create an improved, safer and more prominent pedestrian environment, will also encourage walking or cycling to Claudelands.

Wetlands wonder

A new wetlands area stands separately from the major development that is currently underway at Claudelands but it has obvious benefits for the events centre’s redevelopment.

Deferred since the 2004/05 financial year to ensure its compatibility with the Claudelands upgrade, the wetlands area project was completed late last year to assist with stormwater drainage on site and allow water-flow to be redirected back into the nearby Jubilee Bush for natural irrigation.

Also included as part of the project was the construction of additional car parking established in two locations (along Heaphy Terrace adjacent to the Holman Stand and off Brooklyn Road within the Claudelands Events Centre site) and a driveway constructed from Brooklyn Road to service the function venue, The Grandstand.

Claudelands development and commercial director Mark Christie says the wetlands development “provides a sustainable solution to managing some of the stormwater from this development and takes the pressure off the existing drainage infrastructure".

"Not only is the wetlands area proving hugely beneficial to our existing users by naturally assisting with stormwater drainage on site, but it will also support and complement the development that is currently under way,” he says.