Article | Adaptive Spaces
QV1: Reaching the benchmark in premium office sustainability
How an existing building from the early 90s is creating a responsible place for today’s people to occupy.
October 16, 2023
The property would accomplish a feat in sustainability that only three other buildings in Western Australia have reached to date through Climate Active’s carbon neutral certification. In addition to this, it would also become the first premium grade office tower in Perth’s CBD to be awarded the latest gold certification in modern building standards.
And the industry recognition doesn’t just end there. In 2023, QV1’s Facilities Management team was named the Facilities Management Team of the Year in the 2023 RICS Australia Awards.
QV1’s Head of Operations, Joe D’Alessandro, explained that this latest achievement was testament to the team’s focus on providing a considered and people-focused precinct.
“This award represents a significant achievement and landmark for our team, who are dedicated to integrating sustainability, wellbeing and customer satisfaction into every decision.
“Our team vision remains to provide an environment where people and businesses thrive. We are all committed to that goal and to receive this award is recognition that we are not only preserving the legacy of the iconic QV1 tower – but bringing it into a new age to support the future of work.”
Beyond the accolades though, reinvention as one of the country’s beacons for premium office sustainability requires relentless commitment to a social movement. It’s a collective drive that needs to be underpinned by the right vision, stakeholders and services to back it all up.
This is a unique comeback story of how QV1, an existing building from the early 90s, was able to set a modern-day standard in carbon neutral sustainability while reaching one of the sector’s greatest ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) milestones. This story also forms the perfect case study for sustainably driven precincts that are creating responsible places for today’s people to occupy.
A walk down QV1 memory laneQV1 is a 43 storey modernist skyscraper situated at the top of Perth’s business spine, St Georges Terrace. It was designed by the globally renowned architect, Harry Seidler AC, who was an icon in Australia’s architectural landscape. The late Seidler designed over 180 buildings including Australia Square in Sydney, Hochhaus Neue Donau in Vienna, and The Hong Kong Club in Hong Kong amongst many more. His signature design language combines the three elements of social use, technology and aesthetics. QV1 itself was named after the Latin phrase: ‘Quo vadis’ meaning ‘Where are you going?’ alongside its tag line emphasising “The number one place to be”.
Officially completed in 1991, the premium office building continues to stand as the city’s fourth tallest building at 163 metres. Elements of sustainability were already front of mind during QV1’s early days with Seidler proposing that the building should employ a passive design in order to minimise energy costs. The goal was met through the use of tinted double-glazed windows in unison with horizontal and vertical sun shades. Other early features included separate air-conditioning units for each floor to prevent unnecessary cooling on unoccupied levels – a critical energy-saving measure given Perth’s hotter climate which often contributes a higher percentage to a building’s total energy consumption costs.
Today, QV1 is a Perth icon at the forefront of providing a contemporary and modern workplace built on an ethos of sustainability, quality and lifestyle. It seamlessly blends workplace and community with people at its centre spread across a vibrant mix of office, ground floor retail, wellness facilities and onsite childcare.
Setting a bold new standard in sustainability
“Climate Active is about carbon neutrality. We were the first real estate company to do it at CBRE,” explains Su-Fern Tan, CBRE’s Pacific Head of ESG.
“Why haven’t more premium buildings pursued this? At the end of the day, there is a cost element to it such as hiring a consultant to do your carbon accounting once a year.
“However, if you look at it as a proportion of the bottom line, it’s actually not a large cost.
“With premium buildings comes premium sustainability. You can’t have a premium building in Australia that doesn’t tick the boxes when it comes to sustainability benchmarks. So, this is another accolade for QV1.”
What these achievements meanThere’s a diversity of positive motives behind each of QV1’s accreditations. The property’s General Manager, Theo Smyrniotis, explains why achieving climate neutral certification has always been a major milestone in QV1’s ESG journey.
“Being recognised as a Climate Active building reflects the ongoing commitment and innovation of the building owners and management team to make choices and changes that are environmentally responsible.”
“We are proud to be able to offer a carbon neutral workplace that supports our tenants in their own efforts to reducing carbon emissions. By being a part of the QV1 community, our tenants are already committed to positive climate action.”
"As tenants of QV1, a lot of what the building offers its occupiers in the sustainability realm is fantastic. At CBRE, we have a sustainability policy that has to do with energy, water, waste and more. But by simply being in a building like QV1, this can help tenants achieve more than half of these requirements.
QV1 tenants can essentially leverage the building in multiple ways. They can utilise fit out guides that have sustainability outcomes embedded in them as well as through the building’s own benchmarking procedures. It’s a move which allows a breadth of flexibility in guiding tenants through their own journeys in the property landscape.
“So as a tenant or occupier who cares about sustainability because it’s part of their brand, you would absolutely queue up to be in this type of building. It is why these types of buildings have lower vacancies,” says Tan.
“If you’re one of Australia’s top occupiers, you’re going to be looking for this type of building. If you want to secure a premium tenant like a big bank or tech firm, you’ve got to offer at least what QV1 is offering.”
Beyond tenants being able to leverage these achievements for their own specialised corporate ESG strategies, these credentials can also be aligned with the ownership group’s green targets, hence remaining a valued and relevant asset for its shareholders.
For QV1, the list of these achievements means more than an impressive trophy cabinet. The team are focused on looking for opportunities to continually improve and lighten its environmental impact. This is also the basis for continued investment in renewing the asset to ensure it meets the expectations of modern requirements and is fully capable of competing with the city’s new buildings.
The result of the innovation and persistence has resulted in a future-proofed precinct that boasts considered placemaking, aesthetics and energy efficiency. Most importantly, it maintains the sophistication and humanistic principles aligned with Harry Seidler’s original intent and design philosophy.
Delivering results through the new tenant experienceThe key to maximising any tenancy experience lies in creating a one-of-a-kind space that tenants are proud to be in. In the past six years alone, QV1 has gone through a major repositioning with substantial investment from its building owners.
These upgrades cover vital areas such as the lobby, retail plaza, conference centre and end of trip facilities. Even QV1’s streetscape has been graced with fresh greenery, adding a touch of vibrancy to St Georges Terrace alongside a new art installation from Perth artist, Brett Nannup. The latter concept has already been proven in recent times with public art in place yielding clear benefits for the community. When combined, these projects deliver a premium precinct that tenants naturally gravitate towards and take pride in. The proof is in QV1’s latest successful tenancies.
Strong demand for premium office space fuelled a significant lease deal in May 2023 with Western Australia’s leading financial services firm, Euroz Hartleys, securing the top two floors of QV1. The tenant is an ASX-listed private wealth, institutional and corporate finance business and has signed a 10-year lease on 2,504 square-metres of space across Levels 37 and 38.
Representing the landlord, CBRE’s Luke Bray said the new tenancy provided Euroz Hartleys with a best-in-class headquarters.
“QV1 is an amenity and experience-rich precinct, offering excellent facilities and services such as a 24-hour gym, onsite childcare, tennis and basketball courts, an EV rideshare and community garden, along with industry-leading environmental innovations and ratings.”
Echoing a similarly positive outlook, Euroz Hartleys Managing Director, Tim Bunney, said bringing its 189 employees together under one roof would strengthen and support the culture of its business.
“Our business is built on relationships and connected by our people. QV1 offers significant improvements to our employee value proposition with contiguous floors, existing staircase and premium facilities for our clients and staff.”
Following up this strong momentum is a new lease signing by JERA Australia, the local subsidiary of Japan's largest power generation company, JERA Co., Inc. This tenancy signing which was announced in June 2023 sees JERA occupying the entire level 36 of QV1 across 1,636 square-metres of office space.
CBRE’s Andrew Denny, who negotiated the long-term lease deal, explained that the transaction was testament to the commitment of QV1’s ownership group to deliver a premium, best-in-class office precinct to Perth.
“This is the first occasion in over three decades that a substantial amount of space has been available for lease at QV1,” he says.
“QV1 provides a transformed product with the best level of amenity and highest environmental credentials in the Perth office market. The building has benefitted from ongoing investment and improvement, which will support its occupiers well into the future.”
The new global tenants are also looking forward to leveraging the most of what QV1 has to offer. JERA’s Australian spokesperson said the company was pleased to move into a premium building with unobstructed views of the river and Kings Park. More importantly, QV1’s amenities and green focus of the building will be ideal for JERA’s local workforce.
The latest Euroz Hartleys and JERA deals follow a series of leasing transactions negotiated by joint leasing agents CBRE and Savills, which includes tenants like Clough Group, Sonic Health Plus and Wave International.
QV1 and CBRE: The winning formulaTenancy is never left to chance at QV1 and experience matters as much as innovation. CBRE has managed QV1 since it was completed in 1991 and remains its largest single asset under management in Western Australia. This successful relationship continues to be showcased as a case study of excellence in management practices both internally and more broadly across the property industry.
Ongoing investment from QV1 alongside CBRE’s diligent management will ensure the building continues to remain relevant and valued well into the future.
The QV1 team has already developed an ESG roadmap to reach carbon net zero status by 2040 or sooner – a goal that shapes all forward strategy. This target year is in alignment with current climate science, which requires organisations to achieve net zero by 2050 or earlier.
The future of QV1 looks to be even brighter as the iconic Perth building prepares to welcome more new tenants into its perennially evolving and class-leading space.