Innova21, the University of Adelaide's new building for the Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences, was awarded a 6 Star Green Star - Education v1 rating in May 2010. This makes it the first project in Australia to achieve a 6 Star Green Star - Education v1 rating, as well as the first university in Australia to achieve a rating under the Green Star - Education v1 tool.
The eight storey building incorporates a range of environmentally-sustainable features complementing the design that helped the University achieve its rating as a world leader.
Professor James McWha, Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide said "Achieving a 6 Star Green Star rating demonstrates the University of Adelaide's environmental aspirations and commitment to world leadership in providing sustainable learning spaces for our students".
Innova21 boasts an array of features which will help improve learning outcomes for students and reduce the environmental impact of the building.
One of these features is the project's innovative use of the building's foundation piles for geothermal energy storage. This system uses the thermal mass of the earth beneath the building to provide an efficient source of cooling for the building after hours.
The system involves reticulating chilled water, produced by the building's tri-generation plant, through pipework embedded within the foundations. This cools the ground, and in effect enables the building to 'store' energy to cool areas, such as data rooms, after hours, when the tri-generation plant is turned off. Cooling the building in this manner is more efficient as it allows most cooling potential to be produced using the tri-generation plant's absorption chiller, which uses waste heat to produce chilled water, rather than less efficient electric chillers.
The use of Geothermal Energy Storage is an Australian first and is calculated to reduce the building's cooling related CO2 emissions by 58 per cent.
An energy island
The natural gas-fired tri-generation plant - which supplies all of Innova21's electricity, heating and cooling requirements and will help deliver a 60.3 per cent reduction in peak electrical demand - is another innovative feature. Due to local planning laws, the plant has been designed to run in island mode, which means it is isolated from the grid. This posed a number of design challenges but was deemed worthwhile due to the significant operational, environmental and life-cycle savings offered by the plant.
Tri-generation installations typically convert around 75 to 85 per cent of the energy source into electrical power and useful heat. This compares favourably with conventional power generation which has a typical delivered energy efficiency of only around 30 to 35 per cent. This is particularly important in South Australia where the majority of power is generated by coal-fired power plants.
Costs for the plant were further offset by reducing the need for traditional plant infrastructure such as back-up generators and separate boilers and chilling units.
Designed to educate
Innova21 has also been designed to be used as a learning resource itself. As the building will be used primarily to teach engineering students, it was decided that one measure of the building's effectiveness would be how well it could further the understanding of those students. To achieve this, a secondary building management system (BMS) was designed and installed which allows students to interact directly with the building's controls and operations function, while keeping their actions separate from the primary BMS. This enhances students' understanding of sustainable design and allows them to gain 'real world' experience in modifying building controls without adversely affecting the running of the building.
Innova21 was awarded one innovation point for each of these building features.
Sustainability all rounder
Jeremy Kwan, Senior Project Director at the University of Adelaide, reports that "Green Star requirements were integrated into all elements of design, construction and building operation."
Other sustainability features of Innova21 include 100 per cent fresh air delivery, which has resulted in visitors and regular building users alike commenting on the high air quality, a 500,000L water tank which harvests water from around the campus for use in the building's cooling towers and toilets, and high levels of recycled content incorporated into construction materials.
The project initially planned to install a blackwater treatment system, however investigation showed that it was better suited to a campus-wide application. As such, the University has now entered into an agreement with SA Water to connect the University to the Glenelg Adelaide Pipeline, a commercial treatment scheme.
According to Kwan, "occupants are overwhelming in their support of the Innova21 building and the goals and aspirations we set out to achieve. We are now promoting our achievements through campus tours, university open days and through public broadcast media releases. We believe our 6 Star Green Star rating will benefit University of Adelaide students and help create a better environment."
Other ESD initiatives featured in the project:
- BATISO hydronic slab cooling to maximise the thermal mass and reduce energy consumption
- Thermal chimneys, use of thermal buffer spaces
- Heat rejection from the computer server rooms via geothermal loops incorporated into the basement diaphragm wall
- Low E double glazed curtain wall
- Programmable DALI lighting system
- Provision for wind turbines in the building's structure
Indoor Environment Quality
- Underfloor air distribution system using 100 per cent fresh air
- Optimised daylight and views to the external environment
- Materials and furniture, fittings and equipment were selected for their low environmental impact, and minimal PVC, VOC and formaldehyde content.
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