We all know it’s not easy being green. When you have a facility that extends over 69 hectares, approximately two and a half  times the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), houses 3000 businesses, is used by 4000 wholesalers, growers and vendors to supply to thousands of retailers on a busy day, there’s going to be plenty of challenges to overcome along the way.In spite of this, the new Melbourne Market has still managed to set a benchmark for sustainability. Their aspirations of the State Government and the Melbourne Market Authority to become a green development led to the introduction of a brand new 5 Star Green Star industrial tool, which helped to attain a 5 Star Green Star (world leading) rating for the administration building. The result was achieved through a collaborative approach with the Green Building Council of Australia via a series of workshops designed to ensure the compliance requirements were appropriately addressed.Additionally, the new market was awarded a 4 Star Green Star (best practice) rating for its Fruit and Vegetable Building and National Flower Centre. As part of the accreditation process, extensive air flow analyses were undertaken to validate the design and to ensure it would operate as a naturally ventilated building.

The move from its former site on Footscray Road, West Melbourne to 55 Produce Drive, Epping was a significant step in the rich history of the iconic wholesale market and there are some notable environmental benefits associated with the new $480 million facility.

The vast market building not only addresses the typical sustainability topics of water and energy, but also indoor environment quality and waste management. Emphasis was placed on ensuring that occupants would feel a sense of wellbeing and enjoy their environment, and that stallholders would be satisfied with the facilities in their new premises.

 “It’s a lot better now, we’ve got a warehouse and everything’s a lot more convenient – everything’s new and fresh, it’s a lot easier to work, and there’s more room,”

says Nic Moro of Kelly Bros Market Gardeners.

“Customers are happy; we’ve got new customers and old customers. It’s good – the transition has been good.”

 Larry Piscioneri, of A and I Piscioneri, was impressed by the design and expressed that long-term benefits were accounted for, stating

“I think this is definitely more organised and safer, and it’s definitely done for the future.”

 The commitment to the longevity of the marketplace is demonstrated through numerous sustainable initiatives.

One initiative ensures that the Fruit and Vegetable and National Flower Market utilises natural ventilation to significantly improve the outside air in the spaces.  The actual shape of the building also assists in the ventilation of the buildings. Where possible, the management of waste is contributing to achieving a recycling target of 95%, which is significant given that collectively the businesses produce 10,000 tonnes of refuse annually.

The new facility also comprises a substantially-sized roof, therefore incorporating rainwater harvesting as part of the design was a ‘no brainer,’ according to the engineers at Umow Lai, who were responsible for the Engineering, sustainability and communication services for the project.

Significant potable water savings will be achieved by the storage of a huge 1.5 mega litre water tank and treated recycled water is being used throughout the site for wash down, toilet flushing and to nourish parks in the local community.

Ground water from the extensive car and truck parking areas are being managed and treated through natural sustainable methods.  By using new landscaping and specially designed ecology drainage systems, ground water is cleaned before it enters the local waterways.

The range of sustainable elements including a solar panel installed on the roof of the administration building and the use of high efficiency lighting design and naturally lit spaces, are designed to help contribute to a significant reduction in the Market’s annual electrical energy usage.

Although these various positive sustainable outcomes were achieved, the sheer scope and size of this development posed significant difficulties, and the team at Umow Lai described it as a ‘technically challenging’ environment.

Some of the key challenges included: introducing advanced design technologies that had to be carefully coordinated during the design phase and devising strategies and detailed design planning to lay hundreds of kilometres of cabling and pipes for electricity, water, gas, drainage, security and communications, both above and below ground.

“It required a cohesive approach from all to ensure the success of this sustainable facility,” explained Umow Lai Associate and Mechanical Services Engineer, Chris Grafton-White, who played a key role in the project. “Coordination and liaison between the architect, consultants and contractors was paramount to ensure that the facility reached its sustainability goals, and yet delivered a fully operational facility.”

The extensive consultation process has helped to deliver a market which is modern and efficient, consolidates all the operations under the one roof, and has the potential to reduce handling, transport and labour costs. Through the application of sustainable design elements, stallholders are now benefiting from being able to operate in a comfortable and healthy work environment.


Note: Umow Lai provided electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, fire, communications, security and environmentally sustainable technologies and was part of the Lend Lease consortium engaged by the Victorian Government on the new Melbourne Market.