The Science Place: transforming the teaching of science in northern Queensland

@JCU The Science Place: transforming the teaching of science in northern Queensland

The Science Place: transforming the teaching of science in northern Queensland

If you work on JCU’s Townsville campus, you can’t miss it. The $85M The Science Place is nearing completion and on Friday the media toured the building to see how JCU is transforming the teaching of science in northern Queensland.

Prof. Marcus Lane and Dr Conrad Hoskin photographed by the Townsville Bulletin

The four level, 12,000m2 building includes state-of-the-art laboratories, teaching rooms, study spaces and even a one storey-high aquarium. Students have been using the ground and first floors of the building for several weeks as the finishing touches are made to the upper levels. Staff have been moving into the building since February.

The Science Place is the biggest construction project ever undertaken on JCU’s Townsville campus. The teaching and research facility is a JCU and federally-funded project that will also promote engagement with high schools and the community.

One of The Science Place's state-of-the-art laboratories

An official launch of the building is being planned for later this year.

The Science Place includes many features that make it a leader in environmentally sustainable design and construction.

The Science Place lecture theatre

Sustainable design features include:

  1. A large 25kW solar photovoltaic energy system on the roof which generates on average 125kWh of renewable energy each day.
  2. Recovery and recycling of 96% of all the previous building materials, a new record for a large development in Townsville.
  3. Special concrete reinforcement in paths, using JCU’s own research results. The recycled plastic fibre technology replaces steel reinforcement, which significantly reduces the high embodied energy of metal and hence the environmental impact.
  4. A light reflective roof colour, to reduce building heat gain and air conditioning energy.
  5. Energy-efficient design appropriate to the tropical environment and built to contemporary standards.
  6. A façade optimised to maximise daylight entering the building while minimising heat gain.
  7. Daylight sensitive lighting that reduces power consumption when natural daylight is available.
  8. Environmentally-preferable refrigerants.
  9. Smart metering and circuits to ensure building data is available to the building and energy management systems, to optimise its performance and comfort for occupants.
  10. Surveys of staff before and after occupation, to record the amount of change and take feedback to aid further building efficiency and comfort refinement.
  11. Use of the Townsville campus’ chilled water tanks, which are the largest in the southern hemisphere, to provide low energy cooling.
  12. To avoid unnecessary ecological impacts on the local environment, The Science Place replaced three existing building and re-used the same site, instead of using precious undeveloped greenfield land.