Eight rammed earth walls in the EcoCentre help stabilise interior temperatures. Due to their mass, the walls tend to remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter than the temperature of the surrounding air. This helps to control temperature fluctuations. These walls are also a major design feature inside the building. The clay, sourced by nearby Mount Cotton, was mixed with a binding agent and hand rammed on site in large wooden moulds. The imprints of the hands can be seen on close inspection of the walls. Rammed earth walls are also termite and fire resistant – important for a building surrounded by bushland.
Hebel, the Autoclaved Aerated Concrete used to make the EcoCentre floor is a lightweight, precast building material that simultaneously provides structure, insulation, and fire and mould resistance. Hebel offers advantages over other cement construction materials, one of the most important being its lower environmental impact, using 61% and 64% less embodied energy and 64% and 55% less greenhouse gas emissions than concrete and brick veneer. It is also non-combustible and renowned for its highly fire resistant properties, which makes it a good product for buildings near bushland.
A high level of natural lighting has been achieved inside the building through the use of glass picture windows and heat and glare reflective 'smart' glass panes in the gallery. This has eliminated the need for artificial lighting during the day and reduced electricity demand in all but the most overcast of conditions. Energy efficient compact or strip fluorescent lights are used when this happens. When combined with forms of natural ventilation, as in the Griffith University EcoCentre, and the correct orientation of the long axis of the building in relation to the passage of the sun overhead, smart glass can contribute to the control of building temperature.
Carpet, as current statistics reveal, accounts for over 70% of all flooring sales in the developed world. The EcoCentre carpet tiles are from the Ontera EarthPlus range. At the end-of-product-life, Ontera Modular carpets provide one of the highest possible levels of environmental stewardship by offering a product renewal and reuse solution. The 903m2 of carpeting at the EcoCentre was given a ‘second life’ through a process in which the carpet surface was cleaned, retextured and superimposed with a new design to refresh the appearance before being cut into tiles. Tiles have been used so that when areas need replacing, individual tiles (or areas) can be replaced, rather than a whole room. The carpet manufacturing industry has a high impact on the environment yet most carpet and underlay is recyclable which could prevent it needlessly filling up our landfills.