A living building

The Global Change Institute's Living Building is a flagship sustainability project that encourages us to rethink office design in a low-carbon world.

A pilot for sustainable designs of the future, the GCI building is a living example of how we can minimise the amount of energy we consume but still enjoy a vibrant, healthy working environment.

When constructed, the GCI building was awarded the Green Building Council of Australia’s 6 Star Green Star rating and ranked 34th in the world’s 50 most impressive environmentally friendly university buildings.

Throughout the year, the building generates more energy than it consumes through abundant use of natural light, low-energy lighting, and capturing its own energy via solar panels on the roof.

Rainwater harvested on site is stored in a 60,000 litre tank in the basement, which provides precious water for the vertical garden and toilets.

Look closely in the Atrium pond and you might discover some native fish or possibly a Redclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), a native species common to many parts of northern Australia and known locally as a Yabby.

Made possible by a generous $15 million donation from UQ alumnus and philanthropist Graeme Wood, the $32 million complex was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge and Green Star global guidelines.

The GCI's Google map listing includes a comprehensive tour of the GCI building.


The Global Change Institute building has won multiple awards for its innovation in sustainability. Accolades to date include:

  • 2016 WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff Award for Best Sustainable Development – New Building
  • 2016 Queensland Rider Levett Bucknall Development of the Year
  • 2015 David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture
  • 2015 National Award for Interior Architecture – Australian Institute of Architects
  • 2015 QLD State Awards. G.H.M Addison Award for Interior Architecture
  • 2015 QLD State Awards. Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture
  • 2015 QLD State Awards. R.G Suter Award for Educational Architecture
  • 2015 Commendation for Interior Architecture – Institute of Architects Brisbane Regional Awards
  • 2015 Commendation for Educational Architecture – Institute of Architects, Brisbane Regional Awards
  • 2014 World Architecture News Sustainability Awards – Winner – Public Building and Urban Design
  • 2014 Australian Steel Institute QLD & NT Awards – Winner for Steel Excellence in Buildings - Large Projects (awarded to HASSELL, Bligh Tanner, McNab, BridgeFab, CMC Steel Distribution, JBD Goup, A&I Coatings)
  • 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards – Public Building & Urban Design Finalist
  • 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards – Innovation of the Year Finalist
  • 2013 BPN Sustainability Awards – Winner – Best of the Best (product award for Suspended Geopolymer Concrete Floor Panels) (awarded to Bligh Tanner, Wagners and HASSELL)
  • 2013 BPN Sustainability Awards – Winner - Innovation of the Year (product award for Suspended Geopolymer Concrete Floor Panels) (awarded to Bligh Tanner, Wagners and HASSELL)
  • 2013 Queensland Lighting Design Award of Commendation (awarded to Medland Metropolis)
  • 2013 IES Lighting Design Award of Commendation for our fit for purpose, highly efficient LED lighting solution

Living Building rooftop solar heating system

Roof covering made of Ethelyne Tetra Floura Ethelyne

Another view of rooftop solar heating system

indoor vertical garden

Want to learn more?

Check out the following links and videos: