These Aussie innovators are turning waste plastic into building products. Now, with solar on the roof and electric vehicle charging in the carpark, the production process is carbon neutral.
Address: 34 Breese Street, Brunswick
Key drivers: Improve building efficiency through renovation and operate more sustainably
When Georgina Imberger purchased the building at 34 Breese Street, it had already had many different lives. Built around the 1960s, it has been a clothing factory, a fruit and vegetable grocer, a wine distributor, the Brunswick Tool Library, artists’ studios, and most recently, used to host raves and parties.
Georgina’s vision was to turn downstairs into a live classical music venue, and her brother, Duncan, to create a coworking space upstairs. However, both were committed to refurbishing the building to run as sustainably as possible.
When the building was purchased and Georgina was ready to go, the two realised that they were going to have to find extra funds to do the work required to achieve the environmental sustainability that they wanted.
Environmental Upgrade Finance is a loan that’s tied to a building, not the owner, which means Georgina didn’t need upfront cash or capital to enter into the agreement with Sustainable Australia Fund and Moreland City Council. These funds allowed them to create their vision in the existing building, keeping alive the stories in those walls, avoiding the cost and waste of demolition, and still creating a sustainable environment in which to run their businesses.
“There aren’t many buildings of this vintage in this little pocket of Brunswick that have survived as there’s so much development going on here,” says Duncan. “But this funding has really enabled us to give this place another life and another chapter. And to do it in a way where we’re minimising the environmental impact at the same time.”
Upgrades need to have a positive environmental benefit to quality for this type of finance. They were able to use the finance to install a 14.4 kW solar system on the roof so the building could run on renewable energy.
A new roof was required to support the solar system and remove the asbestos from the existing build. They were able to improve the thermal efficiency of the building by installing insulation in the new roof, replacing the existing windows with double glazed windows, and creating airlocks for internal stairwells.
They also replaced the old lights with LEDs and the hot water system with an electrical one, all of which minimises running costs and reduces emissions.
These days, Tempo Rubato downstairs consists of a performance space with a 102 key Stuart & Sons piano, a bar, and the team operate a plant nursery out of the space when it’s not being used for concerts. On the next level up is Rubato Upstairs, a coworking space filled with natural light.
“We have 26 desks up here, lots of shared facilities and quite a number of small businesses,” says Duncan. “Most of them working in the creative industries in one way or another.”
Georgina’s vision for sustainability means she’s continually finding ways to move towards better sustainability outcomes for the business.
“Tempo Rubato downstairs is now carbon neutral,” says Georgina. “We also aim for no landfill waste in our bar, with wine on tap, using TAP. wines who recycle all the components, and beer in cans, which are recycled as scrap metal.”
The business is not just doing good for the environment. Profits from Tempo Rubato go towards supporting The Piano Project, a not-for-profit that provides access to music education for young people who would otherwise not have access.
“Maybe we would have found a way (to fund the upgrades), but it certainly made our job a whole lot easier that we were able to qualify to get funding. A new roof is a significant expense, as were our new windows, and having the solar was something we always wanted to do. It was fantastic that we could do that with your help.”
– Duncan Imberger, Director, Rubato Upstairs