Sustainability doesn’t have to cost the Earth

While ‘sustainability’ has become a common term to use we shouldn’t lose sight of what it really means – more water and energy efficiency in buildings and a healthier environment for humans to live and work in. This translates into savings and a more secure income for asset owners and investors.
Northrop Associate and Sustainability Group Manager, Ian Van Eerden, is passionate about bringing entire building design together and solving problems that he says others may not know exist. 
One of Northrop’s projects was the $172 million Department of Social Services (DSS) headquarters project in the ACT for Cromwell Property Group. Completed in September 2017, it was  a joint venture by FDC Construction & Fitout and Richard Crookes Constructions. The DSS remained in its existing office while it was extended and then relocated to a new office on the same site.
Northrop was engaged for sustainability services which included 5 Star Green Star for offices, v3 Design and As Built ratings, a 5 Star Green Star Office Interiors v1.1 rating, and a 4.5 star NABERS for the offices energy commitment agreement. This included modelling and independent design review, section J modelling, general ESD advice as well as the production of water, energy and indoor environment management plans to ensure compliance with government efficiency standards. 
The major sustainability features of the DSS project included a large central atrium to bring light into the centre of the building; efficient lighting coupled with motion sensors and a DALI lighting control system; a multi-stage series chiller configuration designed to very efficiently cool the building; and a lower than standard window to wall ratio to minimise heat gains and losses.
Ian revealed other sustainability features included low volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde materials to improve the indoor environment and minimise internal irritants. There was a strong focus on commissioning and tuning, with the project implementing the CIBSE Soft Landings Framework, and the integration of End of Trip facilities and public transport links to support sustainable transport options. 
Monitoring of energy, water and waste consumption rates and provision of education around these measures was also a major feature along with future integration of onsite renewable energy – a 200kW solar array; use of sustainable steel, and 40% reduction in Portland cement in concrete.
Now, when it comes to savings, this project is performing with an energy use of about 30% lower than required under the lease agreement.
“This leads to significant operational cost savings for the project and significantly improves the project yield,” Ian said.
“As such, the asset is more valuable and provides a greater return to the real estate trust it is held within.” 
Similarly, with water and indoor environmental performance, the lower required maintenance and close to zero complaints around the indoor environment, Ian said this means the site has lower facilities maintenance and call-out costs than typical projects. 
“This project was very successful and is tracking better than anticipated mainly through the continued involvement of the client throughout the entire project and a focus on getting the best outcome rather than the cheapest solution,” Ian explained.
Article first written for Cromwell Property Group 

Photography: Fretwell Photography and Cathy Taylor Photography

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