Robin Mellon of Green Building Council of Australia explains how Green Star – Performance rating can help facility managers help improve the performance of their buildings.
We can design a world-leading sustainable building and fill it with clever cutting edge technology, but if it isn’t managed correctly, it won’t be a sustainable building.
True sustainability is found at the intersection of good design, good construction, good behaviour and good management – and often the quickest, cheapest way to improve a building’s performance is to look at how it is managed.
In 2009, the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering embarked on the Low Energy High Rise Project, discovering that most buildings could achieve a four-Star NABERS Energy base building rating solely through improved management practices. The Warren Centre’s research team found that major improvements in energy efficiency are possible without huge capital expenditure. In fact, some improvements can be achieved without spending a cent.
Buildings where management is at least partially insourced perform better by as much as 1.3 stars in their NABERS Energy rating. Similarly, an average 0.9-star increase was found in buildings in which the FM team were empowered to address efficiency.
The Warren Centre found that knowledge, not qualification, is the biggest influence over energy efficiency. Where the manager reported a high level of energy efficiency knowledge, the building performed higher – as much as 1.3 NABERS Energy stars higher. A focus on incremental improvement also delivered a 0.6-star dividend and efficiency training programs resulted in an average 0.5-star increase.
Taken together, it found the measures identified could deliver efficiency gains of up to 30 percent – the equivalent of an additional star in a NABERS rating. If these efficiency gains were extrapolated across the CBD office-building sector, it would be equivalent to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 percent.
The implications are clear – improving building performance requires a well-trained and empowered FM team.
Performance with big payback: council leads by example
Dr Carl Hopley is a member of Wollongong City Council’s building and facility management team that specialises in building sustainability upgrades and the development of sustainable building strategies and plans. He has been leading the team that is working towards one of Australia’s first Green Star – Performance PILOT ratings for the council’s administration building.
The 13-storey office building is currently undergoing a holistic assessment against best practice benchmarks for energy, water and resource efficiency, and broader environmental sustainability.
Over the past decade building manager David Peterson has implemented a range of energy and water upgrades, including the installation of custom-made rainwater harvesting tanks with a capacity of 70 kilolitres, sensor-controlled dual flush toilets, low water consumption urinals and low-flow taps for office amenities. Sensor taps have been installed in public areas, fire test water capture and reuse has been implemented, along with extensive sub-metering and power factor corrections. The team has also integrated a heat pump hot water system, a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, heat reflective blinds and lighting upgrades.
Energy and water analysis completed while undertaking the Green Star – Performance PILOT indicates that these initiatives have reduced energy consumption by 54.6 percent and water consumption by 85 percent over the minimum performing years.
Participation in the Green Star – Performance PILOT also assisted the building manager and the building monitoring and control system (BMCS) supplier to identify additional energy efficiency opportunities.
“In the past, we were unable to access any tools with the flexibility to address the unique operational characteristics of our buildings,” Hopley says, “this meant we had benchmark assets against themselves with a view to achieving continued improvement. But the question was always the same: how do our buildings perform against others? We think Green Star – Performance will help us answer this.”
From good to great green results
When Norman Disney & Young (NDY) took over the two-storey derelict machine factory at 115 Batman Street in Melbourne, it was ripe for a retrofit. Today, it is a modern four-level office building with three five-Star Green Star ratings for design, construction and interior, and five-star NABERS Energy and Water ratings.
NDY is currently benchmarking the building against the Green Star – Performance categories, and has already identified that its operational performance, while good, can be improved. The firm identified gaps in data gathering and management systems, which enabled it to further fine-tune some of their controls.
Facility managers’ reasons for greening an existing building can vary widely. Whether it is about lowering energy consumption, or creating a marketable product for new or existing tenants, or reducing demand on non-renewable resources – whatever the reason, you need a green blueprint to help you run your building better – and that blueprint is Green Star – Performance.
Robin Mellon is the chief operating officer of GBCA.