The HERA Innovation Centre's Sustainable Design Journey

Amber May

The HERA Innovation Centre will be a new purpose-built facility to support steel industry innovation through research and training related to technological advancements, such as Construction 4.0, Circular Design and Fabrication 4.0.

The building has been designed in line with the HERA Foundation’s purpose for innovation in the industry. This state-of-the-art facility is targeting an ambitious 6 Green Star Design & As Built certification from the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC). This certification will cement the HERA Innovation Centre's position as a global leader in sustainable design and showcase steel’s role in sustainable design.

As an integral part of the HERA Foundation's mission to drive innovation in the steel industry, the 360m2, two-storey HERA Innovation Centre was conceived with a visionary approach. Its design, by the architectural team at Gaze Commercial, prominently showcases locally sourced steel as the primary structure and highlights its versatile features throughout the building. Emphasising innovation from the outset, the building features awe-inspiring 5.7 meter high bi-parting sliding Corten steel doors at the entrance. Inside, visitors are greeted by a double height atrium showcasing a bespoke steel staircase leading to a viewing platform, while glass-encased mezzanine offices elegantly suspend from box portal frames overlooking the research workshop and training hall. This striking design encapsulates the essence of industry innovation and places sustainable excellence at the heart of its design.

Central to the HERA Innovation Centre's aspiration for Green Star certification are various environmentally conscious features designed to prioritise the well-being of its occupants. The building integrates office acoustics, lighting, and visual comfort, fostering a healthy, pleasant, and productive working environment. Moreover, the Centre incorporates initiatives for low emission vehicle infrastructure, encouraging staff and visitors to adopt eco-friendly commuting practices. This approach reinforces the organisation's belief that sustainability extends beyond environmental concerns—it encompasses the physical and mental health of those within its walls.

A significant contributor to the HERA Innovation Centre's sustainable design is the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. These panels harness solar energy, reducing the building's carbon footprint and reliance on traditional energy sources. By embracing renewable energy, the HERA Foundation showcases its dedication to environmental responsibility while paving the way for a greener future.

Another ground-breaking initiative provided the design team the opportunity to extend the sustainable intention outside the building and incorporate an innovative rainwater harvesting system for the entire site. Through the use of permeable pavement technology, the benefits provide trafficable permeable surface, surface water treatment, and stormwater management area retention and detention. This forward-thinking multifunctional sustainable drainage approach mitigates environmental impacts to the receiving environment and effectively manages rainwater runoff.

The commitment to sustainable design extends to the careful evaluation of building materials. Gaze’s architectural team prioritised materials for reuse, with low pollutant content, and from sustainable supply chains, reflecting their commitment to minimizing the project’s environmental footprint. By undertaking a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment, the facility further reduces its overall impact throughout its lifespan, exemplifying a holistic approach to sustainability.

The design of the HERA Innovation Centre aspires to transform the design initiatives for the steel industry and endeavours to revolutionise the sector's approach to sustainability. By showcasing how cutting-edge technology and responsible practices can coexist harmoniously, the design inspires others in the industry to embrace sustainable initiatives and retain steel as a sustainable design element.

The HERA Innovation Centre is a testament to what can be achieved when innovation and sustainability intersect. Through its pursuit of a Green Star certification and its commitment to responsible design, this facility will shape the future of the steel industry while reducing its built environment emissions. The HERA Innovation Centre is more than just an elegantly designed building; it's a symbol of progress, dedication, and desire for sustainable innovation.

The architectural and project management teams at Gaze Commercial look forward to delivering this exciting project for the HERA Foundation with the support of HERA, WSP, Marshall Day Acoustics, Brown & Thomson Consulting Engineers, 2PiR Consulting, CoveKinloch Fire Consultants, DMP Quantity Surveyors and Greenwood Associates.

If you are interested in learning more about sustainability in design, get in touch with the team at Gaze Commercial.