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Blue Mountains Campus - Buddle Building

Typifying 1970s institutional architecture the Buddle Building has been lifted from its past into a future where green, clean and occupancy well-being are centre stage.

The refurbished 50 year old building is central to the dynamic Blue Mountains Campus – Willis Bond’s highly sustainable business campus aiming to deliver smart green spaces in which people can thrive.


Name: Buddle Building

What: 4700m2 commercial building - demonstrates adaptive reuse

Where: Blue Mountains Campus - a highly sustainable, resilient business hub in Upper Hutt offering 36,000m2 of flexible commercial and retail space. Formerly an AgResearch centre, the five hectare campus blends existing repurposed facilities with new low-rise office buildings : estimated completion of full campus 20­­­26

The original Buddle Building: a two-storey administration wing and a four-storey research block interconnected via an amenity and stair tower. Unoccupied for many years, the structure had suffered significant damage due to weather ingress, vandalism and general material degradation. Situated at the entrance to the Blue Mountains Campus - the refurbished Buddle Building now forms part of a central amenity hub

Tenancy: anchor tenants Kiwi Rail and MBIE - additional tenants to follow. Kiwi Rail has constructed a new 1300m2 state-of-the-art train control room on-site connected to the Buddle Building via a linkway

Occupancy: TBC - up to 480 occupants

Address: 68 Ward Street, Upper Hutt City

Project Snapshot

Owner: Willis Bond

Architect: Studio Pacific Architecture

Sustainability and Green Star: Beca

Building Services: Beca

Structural: Dunning Thornton Consultants

Main contractor: LT McGuinness Limited

Project status: site purchase 2020; concept design commenced 2021; on-site works with site preparation, asbestos removal etc mid 2021; main contract works underway late 2021; Kiwirail now occupying, MBIE expected occupancy in Q4 2023

Project certification: 5 Green Star Design review rating (November 2022), Targeting 5 Star As-Built Rating post completion.

M05_2022 BMC Hub Render

Equipped with state-of-the-art building services and a new façade, the Buddle Building exemplifies the potential of building reuse.

Property development and investment company Willis Bond says its new regional business campus offers “a beautiful, established park-like setting which is very difficult to achieve in the concrete environments that dominate city centres.”

And it has applied a green mindset across all facets of its campus project:

  • the Buddle Building and two low-rise new builds target both 5 Green Star and 5 star NABERSNZ ratings
  • the retention and refurbishment of three existing buildings (including the Buddle Building) to reduce embodied carbon emissions on campus
  • the ability for tenants to add further sustainable options including rainwater harvesting, solar power generation and battery storage
  • a strong focus on green transport options (the campus is in close proximity to Wallaceville Train Station)

Willis Bond Director - David McGuinness, says one of the most exciting green aspects of the Buddle Building has been its re-adaption and re-use.

“While refurbishing existing buildings is often more complex than demolishing and rebuilding them - retaining as much of the existing building’s structure as is practicable not only reduces embodied carbon emissions but reduces the amount of waste going to landfill and the amount of new materials required.”

David McGuinness says from the outset Green Star has been Willis Bond’s tool of choice - aligning closely with its commitment to sustainable design and construction and the wellness of the occupants of its buildings.

“Green Star is recognised as an independent assessment which combats the risk of ‘greenwashing’ and provides assurance to the occupants of the building, and the wider community, of its sustainability. When considering both tenant expectations and Willis Bond’s aspirations to reduce the impacts of its projects we decided Green Star was the best tool to achieve our goals.”

The company’s 5 Green Star Design rated projects includes the PwC Centre in Wellington and Tākina - Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It is also targeting a 6 Green Star rating for the new Tauranga City Council office building which, once complete, will be the country’s largest mass timber office building.

David McGuinness says initially a 5 Green Star goal was an aspiration rather than a commitment for the Buddle Building project.

“However, feedback received from potential tenants early in the project helped us see that committing to a 5 Green Star goal would not only demonstrate our commitment to sustainable office spaces but that it is an expected norm and a mark of excellence for many tenants today.”

He says the 5 Green Star Design review rating for the Buddle Building has been propelled by collaboration.

“It is the result of a trusted and collaborative team including the Upper Hutt City Council, project consultants, Willis Bond’s construction partner LT McGuinness and the Buddle Building’s anchor tenants.”

He says Willis Bond is delighted with the outcome.

“Achieving a 5 Green Star rating not only shows the Buddle Building has been re-adapted and refurbished with the environment in mind but it also shows that the health, wellbeing, and comfort of its occupants plays a vital role in the design decisions for the campus. The Buddle Building is an important part of the campus narrative as a resilient, sustainable business hub that is a fantastic place to work.”

Principal and Project Lead, Grant Perry of Studio Pacific Architecture says its design response to the Buddle Building’s redevelopment has been shaped by:

  • a key focus on material selections
  • significant interrogation of the façade performance to ensure long-term comfort and operational efficiencies
  • continuous evaluation of structural interventions to reduce demolition and reuse existing material

SPA’s design approach for the repurposed facility “stays true to the overall volume and arrangement of the 1970s structure, maximising its good bones and maintaining the strong geometries of the original scheme.”

He says the approach of re-using an existing building and the project’s overall reduction in demolition waste has been a highlight.

Main contractor for the Buddle Building project LT McGuinness says the key sustainability challenge of redeveloping a 50 year old building has been incorporating modern mechanical plant into existing risers and plant rooms.

LT McGuinness Project Manager Sam Short says it has been exciting to work on the innovative Buddle Building project and “it’s great to see the hard work from the whole project team being rewarded with this 5 Green Star certification.”

Sam Short says Green Star brought a raft of positive initiatives to the construction site.

“As part of the Green Star process we added a portion to our induction process dedicated to describing Green Star, the benefits of building sustainably and how the actions on-site contribute to the certification. We also rolled out our smoko-waste recycling scheme which was a great opportunity for team talks about why we need to act more sustainably and what the construction industry can do in this space.”

LT McGuinness Sustainability Manager – Ben Cannon says when discussing the requirements for materials and tracking with sub-contractors and suppliers “it has been really rewarding seeing the other conversations that discussing sustainability brings up - from learning more about sustainability in the built-environment to sharing ideas around how we can work more sustainably.”

“Green Star is an excellent tool for delivering quality, sustainable commercial buildings in Aotearoa. I sometimes hear people describing something as sustainable but when you dig down there’s just one small thing they’ve done. Green Star independently verifies that many elements have been considered including the energy use of the building, ensuring responsible materials are procured and that the indoor environment is comfortable and healthy. Another key benefit of Green Star is that it provides a starting point for people who may be overwhelmed or do not know where to start with sustainability.”

BMC Chris Hipkins shout - 2

Project GSAP Ben Masters, principal - sustainable buildings Beca, says the Buddle Building’s 5 Green Star rating rubber stamps the project’s sustainable framework.

“As well as a leading carbon performance, the project targeted a range of sustainability focused areas including a healthy working environment and the reduced environmental impact of the existing site and new construction materials.”

He says the revitalisation of the Buddle Building demonstrates a best practice whole life carbon approach to building refurbishment.

  • whole life carbon emissions have been benchmarked to be 51% less than if the building had been built again
  • the leaky, inefficient façade has been replaced with a new light timber framed insulated façade, warm roof and new high-performance double glazing
  • a whole building Life Cycle Assessment indicates very low up-front carbon of only 352kgCO2-e/m2 (around 39% up-front carbon reduction compared to an equivalent new build)
  • the original gas heating systems have been replaced with an all-electric efficient design to support the future minimum 5 Star NABERSNZ certification target (representing around 60% less operational carbon than a typical New Zealand commercial office)
  • Beca’s advanced BTune building tuning service will be used to continuously monitor and optimise in-use building performance

Ben says enhancing the health and wellbeing of campus users is a primary objective for the Blue Mountains development.

And the Buddle Building demonstrates the importance of occupancy comfort at every step with:

  • an upgraded façade - spearheaded by passive design principles - balancing expansive views with very high levels of daylight penetration and thermal efficiency
  • computer modelling has been used to optimise the façade design and performance specification
  • mixed mode ventilation - occupant-controlled openable windows enable further access to fresh air and connection with the external environment
  • internal air quality is monitored and ventilation rates are continuously controlled
  • generous end of trip facilities are provided to promote a healthy lifestyle and active transport options

Ben says Green Star has been instrumental in propelling the Buddle Building’s sustainable journey from disused 1970s government research relic to a highly contemporary green commercial building.

“Green Star has set the building up for a new life - ready for a low carbon future.”

Green and technical features include:

  • reuse of land – 83% of the site was previously developed land
  • ecological protection of site
  • 95% of timber (by cost) used in the building and construction works is certified by a recognised forest certification scheme
  • best environmental practice certified PVC used for all permanent formwork, pipes, flooring, blinds, and cables.
  • all sanitary fixtures are within one star of the best available WELS rating
  • reduced energy use and GHG emissions compared to a reference building
  • peak Electricity demand reduction 72%
  • a commitment to set water, energy and GHG emissions targets and measure results for environmental performance
  • electrical and water metering and monitoring provided
  • Environmental Management Plan (EMP) developed and implemented
Innovation point features include:
  • financial transparency
  • innovation exceeding Green Star benchmarks – Life Cycle Impacts
  • innovation exceeding Green Star benchmarks – provision of 10% EV charging and electrical infrastructure capacity for 100% of carparks to easily enable future tenant implementation of EV charging at any parking location