Educational — How can we turn a building into a living, breathing example of good design?
Economic — How can we increase a building’s ROI?
Experiential — How can we increase productivity in a building?
Environmental — How can a building benefit the community and environment?
Here’s how these key factors have played out in two of Aurecon’s recent projects, to build a considerable case for the smart design of Buildings of the Future:
When we first pitched the vision of today’s Aurecon Centre, home base for 700 Melbourne staff, the goal was pretty straightforward. We wanted to be an example of what a smart, green, connected and innovative building should look like. The task of getting there, however, was rather more oblique.
With market-leading standards for air quality, energy efficiency and sustainability driving design, key data that was needed to build our innovative portfolio was either inconsistent, or it simply wasn’t around yet. Integration systems were inadequate and failed to paint a picture of the kind of value we could derive from our proposed model of integrated sustainable design. We knew full well that technology for the sake of technology didn’t make a building intelligent, especially if those systems didn’t continue to optimise the building’s performance and the people’s well-being. But we didn’t know exactly how to integrate those innovative elements into a cohesive whole that would achieve this intelligent picture.
“The learning experience has helped us mitigate risks to reduce initial building costs and use these systems to maximise operational efficiency and predictive maintenance.”
Since then, we are far more equipped to understand the interdependent nature of each design element as it relates to the integrated whole.
Thanks to the opportunity to experiment, fail and refine as we go, the Aurecon Centre project gave us ample legroom to run with new ideas and see them come to life. We gathered up expertise in the area of green building — knowledge that we have been able to share since then within the engineering industry.
Our holistic approach to designing Buildings of the Future now includes a triple bottom line, where the economic, social and environmental benefits of design are built into the big picture on strategic sustainability.
On average, a Building of the Future only requires 2-6% more upfront capital. If done well, the full payback to this investment could be as soon as six months. Intelligent buildings can offer tremendous economic incentives, and the new Corporate Headquarters for client Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in the city of Geelong in Victoria, Australia, which Aurecon designed, is no exception.
“Over the past four years, we have been able to reduce the TAC’s energy consumption by 40%.”
This is due to a series of rigorous energy saving initiatives, which include fully-automated energy efficient lighting; smart, customised air controls; and a rather funky building façade that reduces energy consumption. Grey, double glazed low-e glass eliminates glare and traps heat on the surface, creating a natural heating system for the building. Altogether, from 2014-2015, the Centre saved approximately AUD109 472 in energy consumption and, in 2015-2016, gas consumption was optimised by an average of 23%.
The rapidly accepted 3/30/300 model says that for every $3 per square foot that organisations spend on energy, they spend $30 on rent and $300 on their employees’ salaries and benefits. People are always central to the design imperative. So, addressing their needs should be the highest priority when developing intelligent building technologies.
The rating systems that apply to the 3/30/300 model.
Aurecon saw productivity levels increase by 8% when designing the Aurecon Centre. Due to the fact that the building was situated close to traffic and transportation systems, we implemented noise reduction initiatives and better spatial design to overcome these factors. Temperature controls and systems to regulate air quality were part of the overall intelligent design. According to a sick building syndrome study of the facility, staff health improved by 11%. Not only was the occupational experience vastly improved, but so was the reputation of Buildings of the Future to draw and retain talent with better working conditions in place.
Given the ubiquity of climate change and the pressure of urbanisation on our already-overpopulated city spaces, future-proofing our buildings just makes sense.
“The less negative impact a design can have on the environment, the greater benefit it may prove to have in the long run.”
But going green is not just a once-off investment. A sustainable building is not deemed sustainable, because you plug green elements into the initial design alone. Rather, what makes a building green is the degree to which smart, connected systems interweave and continue to optimise operational efficiency over time.
Operational efficiency has been enhanced at TAC Headquarters. The TAC is now a green building, having achieved an initial 4.5 Green Star rating from the Green Buildings Council of Australia (GBCA), which was later optimised to a 5 Green Star rating. We were able to reduce the carbon footprint by 50% and increase the solar energy generation on the premises by 7.9% per year. Additionally, the greenhouse gas emissions that were generated from running the building have decreased by an average of 7% per year. So, evident were our achievements that the initial 4.5 NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) rating was optimised to a 5.5 NABERS rating within one year.
Explore the next chapter – Building synergy to build the future