Engaging staff and students at Uni of Melbourne’s latest high performance building

09 Dec 2014 by Peter

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We’re delighted that another of the country’s highest performing green buildings has just opened for business and that once again Greensense software was chosen to help support the project’s environmental goals.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Design has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Design – Education Design v1 award under the Green Building Council of Australia’s building rating tool, representing the highest possible standard for a building of its type. As the new home of architecture and design at the Uni, the 6 story building incorporates three lecture theaters, workshop, library, two exhibition spaces, cafe, a series of teaching studios over three levels, a studio hall space providing informal learning spaces and a series of associated academic and professional work spaces.

UoM Architecture Building

Uni of Melbourn’s new School of Design

The building has been designed to incorporate a number of innovative features that, combined with the building’s high-tech facade, contribute to achieving the 6 Star rating. This includes the use of engineered Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams to reduce the embodied energy of the building, and the use of a mixed mode ventilation that uses mechanically assisted natural ventilation and allows for local and individual control by the building users. The building facade adopts a solar screening system that responds to the buildings orientation whilst also permitting daylight penetration into the studio and work spaces.

Greensense Posterboard example

Greensense Posterboard

The University selected the Greensense Posterboard® solution to showcase these and other ESD features and to educate and engage staff and students around building performance. The solution integrates with the Schneider StruxureWare building management system, which provides a continuous feed of building performance data, including electricity, water and gas consumption as well as indoor environment quality sensors, for things like CO2, temperature and lighting levels.

There are a number of drivers for the University and building designers to include a sustainability information display as part of their project. These include:

  • Earning additional points towards a Green Star certification, particularly the Learning Resources credit (more on that here)
  • Showcasing the ESD features of the buildings, remembering that many of these innovations are often not visible to building occupants and are nearly always poorly understood (ask the average building user about the merits of Laminated Veneer Lumber if you don’t believe me!)
  • Educating building occupants around how the building functions and how individuals can play their part in ensuring the building performs well. We know that buildings will often under-perform because of the way we (ab)use them. This is often down to ignorance on our part rather than the fault of the building. In addition, building users are likely to be far more amenable to, and understanding of, changes to the indoor environment if they are included in the conversation. An example of this might be turning up HVAC set points on very hot days so the building isn’t having to work quite so hard to keep us cool.

Displaying indoor indoor environment quality info to building users with CO2, lighting levels and temperature coming via the Schneider BMS

The Greensense team worked with the project manager, ESD consultant and the client to ensure the solution was designed in line with the ESD specification and delivered in time for the grand opening.

The Greensense Posterboard® solution brings this data together in series of easy to understand, engaging “stories” that help communicate in simple terms how the building functions. Being cloud based, that same information can also be made available to other audiences across the University such as the sustainability team of facility managers.

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