Mid-tier buildings make up 80% of Australia’s commercial building sector and present easy opportunities to improve energy efficiency for the built environment. While these non-premium buildings have often been neglected, addressing the energy efficiency not only reduces costs, but translates into vast benefits such as increased occupancy comfort and attracting/retaining both key tenants and employee talent. Read through to see the challenges, initiatives, options, and rewards by addressing energy efficiency in this sector.
While a massive $45B is being funnelled into WestConnex and associated roads, a paltry $60M/year is celebrated for spending on bike infrastructure while enforcing draconian fines. Active infrastructure for walking and biking comes at a low cost with vast benefits to health, local and city economies, jobs, and traffic congestion. It’s high time the state government resets its focus on public good to fund projects that deliver good value for money, return urban space to people instead of cars, prioritise human activities, and increase public transport options to expand the currently limited capacity.
We go through settings for your heating and cooling to optimise both occupancy comfort and energy efficiency, while considering the different variables involved.
Green Cities Barangaroo Development
Following on from my visit of the new UTS building in the first post, in this post, I’ll run through my visits of the Barangaroo Reserve and Barangaroo South District. The full list of sites visits that were available through the Conference is available at the Green Cities Conference 2016 Website.
Barangaroo North Reserve and Commercial Barangaroo South
The tour started near the Reserve at the north end of Barangaroo, where our group was met by a number of tour guides both from the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and caretakers of the reserve land.
The suited gentlemen from the delivery authority were the first to discuss the advantages of building the nature reserve parklands, explaining the renovation of this space as made possible by the commercial development of Barangaroo South. They also further stressed the added value of the public space created here while offsetting the construction of the new financial hub in the southern corridor.
We were then welcomed to the area and taken on a tour of the reserve by the park caretakers of indigenous descent before heading further south to learn about the sustainability initiatives of the 6 Star Green Star rating buildings in the South precinct.
Barangaroo Reserve Highlights
While wandering along the footpaths of the park, they shared the history of the area we walked through. The long stretch of harbourfront was named after the matriarchal figure of the Cammeraygal clan, Barangaroo, to whom Bennelong was married. The two individuals had widely different interactions and viewpoints with the newly forming, neighbouring colony of the time.
This reserve space was originally a headland centuries prior, contrasting to its various identities since. A new headland was constructed by excavating the concrete below and using 6,000 sandstone blocks to create a unique cavity beneath which will later serve as a cultural centre.
On-shore, 80 native and local plant species were carefully selected and raised before introduction to the park. The robust flora has taken root successfully, with only a 1% attrition rate over a year. The space is also water positive and greywater is collected and recycled in the basement.
Tours of the park for firsthand learning are regularly run during the week, with more information readily available from the Barangaroo website.
Barangaroo South Highlights
The vast initiative of this south district was aiming to be carbon neutral via numerous angles; from the choice of specialty takeaway materials and recycling of 97+% construction materials to district sea water cooling and on site blackwater recycling, sustainability has been the central theme of this venture.
The completed buildings at the southern end of the district have received 6 stars under the Green Star rating, encompassing areas such as energy, waste, water, and indoor environment. They’ve demonstrated to be amongst world’s best practice for offices and communities.
Since the retailers are small, Lend Lease supplies the capacity they need for choosing and using responsible materials. Plant compostable packaging are encouraged and easily processed on-site. The basement houses a low energy grinding machine for food to compost the food along with the compostable packing. There is also a vessel for collecting gas as bacteria is injected to drive rapid breakdown of the food.
A close relationship with the cleaners enables best practice of waste disposal from tenants and vendors, driving 90+% diversion from landfills. Cooking oils are also pulled out directly from food vendors and turned into biofuel, free of charge.
Building cooling is primarily done via chilled beams throughout, utilising seawater for heat exchange with the chillers. The district cooling capacity of 70 kW is achieved by custom York chiller units, incorporating titanium and ceramic components to combat potential corrosion from seawater.
Additionally, there are extensive end-of-trip facilities, to support and promote active transport and healthy lifestyles. More highlights of the sustainability initiatives can be found on the Barangaroo website and full details in their sustainability report for Barangaroo South.
Green Cities UTS Business School
As a part of the Green Cities Conference, various site visits were on offer to energy efficient buildings throughout the city, such as the Sydney Opera House, Darling Quarter and Commonwealth Bank Fitout, 50 Martin Place and Macquarie Bank Fitout, and 200 George Street by Mirvac. I had the opportunity to go on visits of the UTS Business School and of Barangaroo North and South. The full list of sites visits that were available at the Green Cities Conference 2016 Website. I’ll cover my visit through the new UTS building in this instalment, and my visit through Barangaroo in Part II.
Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS
This building was designed by Frank Gehry who first scoped out the neighbourhood for ways to uniquely fit in. From the outside it sports a treehouse aesthetic and feel. Part of its signature look is the blending of heritage brickwork with Sydney’s skyscraper skyline.
There were a variety of interesting facets inside and out covering considerate design and layout, energy and water efficient choices to reduce environmental impact, and sustainably sourced materials for improved internal air quality. Altogether this combines for a 5 star Green Star design rating.
Starting from the outside, the building’s unique construction, shape, and aesthetics were enabled by these sandstone colour K-bricks made in NSW with a special parallelogram geometry.
The building’s basement has a limited 20 space carpark minimising car traffic and footprint, while complete with 150 bicycle parks and commuter facilities to encourage active transport. There is an additional polystyrene compactor to crush and aid in recycling.
In terms of innovative design and layout, specialty classrooms throughout encourage collaboration, group work, and interactive teaching. This includes oval layouts with the lecturer at the centre and swivel chairs enabling easy grouping together for collaboration.
Lecture theatres, classrooms, and student spaces were placed on the lower levels and offices for academics above them to reduce frequency of elevator traffic and competition in consideration of differing schedules.
Inviting open staircases encourage walking between floors and enable natural collaboration between colleagues with “bump” spaces.
Regarding energy usage, LEDs and T5s are used throughout, variable speed drives (VSD) used throughout the A/C system, and double glazed curtain walls with solar control coating flood the interior with natural light while effectively insulating against heat.
Water usage has been minimised by incorporating air-cooled chillers for the air conditioning rather than cooling towers and use of collected rainwater for gardening on multiple floors, toilet flushing, and bin cleaning. Additionally, fixtures and taps throughout reduce water demand, and water is recycled and reused from the fire system and sprinkler tests.
Sustainably sourced, certified timber was used throughout, incorporating hoop pine, Victorian ash, and New Zealand glulam radiata pine. Other construction and decorative materials such as carpets, paints, adhesives, sealants and joinery were chosen for their low emission characteristics.
For further details on the unique aspects of the building, see the UTS Fact Sheet.