'Passive house' standards set for Bendigo Soldiers Memorial Institute redevelopment

The Bendigo Soldiers Memorial Institute extension is in the midst of an eco fit-out as Bendigo council looks to reduce the carbon footprint of some of the city’s major buildings.

The structure is being redesigned in line with ‘passive house’ requirements, which is considered the international standard in energy efficient construction.

Key elements of the refurbishment include high levels of insulation, a heat-recovery ventilation system, high performance windows and a building shell consisting of highly insulated, well-sealed exterior walls.

City of Greater Bendigo project coordinator of building infrastructure Daniella McClure said the improved climate control measures will reduce operating costs and are designed to increase the longevity of displays in the museum.

The council believes the new standards will allow for energy savings of up to 90 per cent compared with typical existing buildings and over 75 per cent compared with average new best-practice constructions.

The city’s latest environmental activities report, released in November, revealed some council buildings were hindering the council’s progress in reaching its aspirational target of halving emissions by 2020.   

The report revealed natural gas emissions from council buildings jumped from 615 tonnes in 2015-16 to 1000 tonnes last financial year – an increase of almost 40 per cent.

The Bendigo Aquatic Centre and the Bendigo Art Gallery were the main contributors to that increase, according to the report, which warned of further pressure on emissions in the next financial year with the opening of the Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre at Kangaroo Flat and new air conditioning installations at some community buildings. 

ARTIST'S IMPRESSION: The tone and color of the building will be altered to be more faithful to what the older parts of the exterior looked like more than 100 years ago.

ARTIST'S IMPRESSION: The tone and color of the building will be altered to be more faithful to what the older parts of the exterior looked like more than 100 years ago.

Ms McClure said the Garden Gully Reserve Pavilion and the Huntly Early Learning Centre were examples of other design projects that may have an environmentally-sustainable focus.

The $4.5 million redevelopment of the Soldiers Memorial Institute is expected to be completed in June.

The new sandy-coloured finish of the building was revealed late last year, which council staff said was more reflective of the building’s original colour before grey rendering took place.

The project is being funded by the federal government ($1.7M), the state government ($1.5M), the City of Greater Bendigo ($800,000), and Bendigo RSL and community contributions ($500,000).

Around $140,000 has been donated to the RSL fundraising appeal, which is looking for $250,000 to help with the project and the institute’s curator Kirsten McKay urged businesses to donate to the cause.