A new timber office building could change how we think about sustainable construction

By Jarrod
4 Min Read

Melbourne’s newest office building joins the recent wave of towering timber projects that are changing how we approach ‘green’ infrastructure.

Built by Icon and developed by American investment firm Hines, the T3 Collingwood is named for the ‘three-T’ philosophy that inspired the project: the sustainable use of timber, transit and technology. 

As a result, this timber tower boasts an impressive six-star Green Star rating and a 5.5-star NABERS Energy rating, showcasing the game-changing applications timber construction can have in reducing Australia’s carbon emissions.

With eight of its 15 storeys comprised entirely of timber, the team behind the project estimates that 34 per cent of upfront carbon has been removed compared to the same building when designed with a conventional steel-reinforced concrete frame.

Speaking at Engineers Australia’s Climate Smart Engineering (CSE23) conference in Melbourne, Andrew Thompson, Associate Director and Sustainability Team Lead at AECOM explained the engineering process behind the project.

“[Working with] sustainable timber is something we’ve been doing for a very long time,” he said.

“When you’re [working with] timber, you really want to design for timber,” he said, adding that engineers didn’t want to “shoehorn” material into places it did not belong.

The bottom levels and core of the building are concrete primarily for code and fire safety compliance, as is the top floor “for acoustics reasons”.

Thompson said that designers spent a great deal of time making the design “repetitious” and “designing with the suppliers in mind” to limit the amount of bespoke work required.

“It’s [also] the only construction site that I’ve been to which smells great,” he added.

The project’s builders ICON said the 92 million dollar project had surpassed “numerous and impressive milestones along its journey”. 

“… we’re proud to have advocated for environmentally sustainable design and construction, while also boasting a predominantly female site,” said the builders in a statement provided to Build-it. 

“We are eager to perpetuate these positive shifts in the industry with our upcoming projects.”

Ray Lawler, Chief Executive Officer at Hines, underscored the significance of the T3 Collingwood development.

“T3 Collingwood represents a groundbreaking, sustainable evolution of traditional office buildings,” said Lawler.

“The timber we utilise is rapidly renewable, sustainably sourced, cleaner to construct, and actively contributes to keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.”

Using timber for a better tomorrow

T3 Collingwood is only the latest in a long line of timber towers being built around Australia over the last decade, marking a general shift in how the industry is approaching the nation’s 2050 net-zero emissions target. 

In October, we saw Perth developers get the go-ahead to construct what will be the “tallest timber hybrid tower in the world”, topping Atlassian’s 180-metre hybrid timber tower currently under construction in Sydney.

With a record 300 million dollar investment into the Timber Building Program propping up the supply and construction of similar large-scale projects since 2022, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor says timber could be the future of the sector.

“Increased use of low-carbon construction materials like wood products will help achieve our target of net zero emissions by 2050,” Minister Taylor said. 

“The production and delivery of building materials account for 28 per cent of emissions in the construction industry globally. 

“Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan sets out the approach the Government is taking to help industries reduce their emissions, through research and enabling technologies.”

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.