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Energy efficient office buildings in Canberra

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12:31 am
January 24, 2012



posts 456

We've heard before that office buildings out at the airport are energy efficient. Now it's been announced that the Walker Corporation's development at 50 Marcus Clarke Street in Civic has been awarded the highest energy efficiency rating in Canberra.

Now occupied by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the building has a star rating of 5 1/2  under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS).

Another developer, the Molonglo Group, is claiming that their Nishi building, still under construction at Acton, will have a 5 star NABERS rating.

Check out the Canberra Times article here for more details.

9:33 am
February 1, 2012



posts 60

I don't want to sound cynical about this as I see these systems as a genuine effort in the right direction, but I do wonder how well they actually work in a 'sensible' way? The building I work in was lauded as being energy efficient etc, but all I can sense are the many flaws in it's construction. The miles of double glazed glass windows facing out into the west so that sun shines in at such an angle you're forced to keep the blinds down to stop it blinding you while you work on a computer. The heating/cooling system, which never seems to work efficiently & makes we wish for a building that had old fashioned windows that you open/close. It's either too hot or too cold or too steamy. The toilets which started off with recyled water for flushing, until I think people complained about the colour of the water if I recall rightly. Why there is hot water at all available in the bathrooms is a mystery. The separated bins in the kitchen which are completely undermined because, unfortunately, the workforce is too lazy or stupid or ignorant to actually separate the waste no matter how many reminders they get. The worst part is the designer's choice of putting permeable ceilings up as some kind of feature to help with airflow, apparently, but all that's led to is the absurd situation that there's no such thing as an office where your conversation won't be heard by all & sundry. Imagine teleconferencing overseas!  The noise is tremendous. The stair well is lovely & airy, but frankly the idea of having people peer up my skirt as I go up the floors is rather concerning as is the sensation of vertigo one gets looking at the detached sides (everyone says this, not just me). All government buildings still have their lights on for a majority of the 24 hr cycle. I'm not sure why. The lights do switch off after about 7pm on most floors, which is an improvement, but I'd prefer that all lights went off except for the security guards' desk & for the rest they can use an old fashioned torch to get around. To my view, unless these buildings involve some more radical changes eg., solar passive orientation, maximum roof coverage with solar panels & majority solar driven power, no hot water in the bathrooms, some decent space for the workforce for change rooms, more bicycle storage & placement near or co-location with public transport routes etc etc a lot of these efforts are only part-way to where we want to be. I still bemoan the fact that SES cars can be any car they desire, no matter how gas guzzling & free parking comes with that as well. So where's the 'energy efficiency' built in there? Anyway, enough of my complaints, thanks for keeping us updated MLaugh

10:09 am
February 1, 2012



posts 456

Hi Quetzal,

Thanks for your very informative post about life working in an "energy efficient" building. It really shows that the reality can be different from the rhetoric.

It would be really interesting to know how many people working in other similar buildings have struck the same problems.

I think it is recognised that there is a problem in the ACT with the quality of the buildings going up. The ACT Government conducted its own on-line survey seeking views on this issue last year.

We're going to be stuck with the new buildings for many decades to come and so it's really sad when they do not turn out to live up to expectations  in regard to energy efficiency and liveability. Clearly, from your description, it sounds like we also have a long way to go with behaviour change.



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