As Grocon's vision for the future of eco-friendly office spaces, the Pixel Building in Carlton is both architectural guinea pig and environmental trendsetter. From its brightly-coloured, shard-like exterior to its minimalist simplicity inside, this revolutionary building stands out in more ways than one. According to Grocon, it is so environmentally advanced, there is currently nothing like it in the world. As a complete dummy when it comes to green architecture, I was impressed, yet slightly sceptical of this claim, and so I decided to take a tour of the building and see first-hand how green this 'display home' for office designers really is.
Each shard is perfectly placed to capture the maximum amount of natural light
As I puffed my way up the stairs, I learnt that Pixel is indeed Australia's first carbon neutral commercial office building, meaning it generates more energy than it uses. Our first stop was the busy rooftop, complete with both fixed and tracking solar panels (which follow the sun's every move), a variety of reed beds, and 3 wind turbines (designed by a local inventor). Unlike normal wind turbines, these ones do not require electricity to start them up, which had the eco buffs on the tour nodding their heads approvingly.
As we descended to one of the lower floors, we were told the office space is currently empty, but will soon be filled by Grocon's own employees, who are keeping meticulous track of how each feature of the building is faring, in their bid to achieve the highest environmental rating ever for buildings using the US LEED, UK BREEAM and Australian Greenstar rating schemes. Our tour guide joked that there was deliberately no carpark built as its workers would be expected to ride bikes to work. Perhaps she wasn't joking. One thing the workers would surely be encouraged to do would be to eat a mean curry for lunch each day as Pixel's very own anaerobic digester – my favourite feature – extracts methane from the building's black waste and uses it as an energy source. So you too can do your bit to help run the building!
As we said goodbye to what aesthetically appeared to be a normal office space, I reflected on the fact that Grocon appears to have left no eco stone unturned, and with the advent of the Carbon Tax and the clear need for greener living, the Pixel Building is a real eye-opener and surely the way forward.