Issue No. 41 - June/July 2008
Adelaide’s green building challenge
by Kimon Lycos
Buildings account for 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into our atmosphere each year – almost a quarter of Australia’s total greenhouse
The vast majority of GHG emissions in commercial buildings can be attributed to generating and supplying electricity, which highlights just how much scope there is to reduce emissions significantly by incorporating energy efficient design principles.
Good building design and the use of energy efficient technologies can result in the energy demands being halved along with GHG emissions. Two recent examples of high quality sustainable buildings in Adelaide include the 5 star-rated Santos headquarters and the IAG headquarters on Flinders Street.
New buildings such as these are so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’ because the real challenge in Adelaide lies with ‘greening’ existing building stock.
Poor design, improper orientation and energy-inefficient structural materials combine with old, inefficient heating ventilation and cooling and lighting systems to make older buildings use more energy per square metre than newer buildings.
The cost of upgrading older buildings to more efficient systems is often too high to be economically viable. This problem is compounded by the fact that the existing systems need to work even harder to overcome the often difficult design.
Building refurbishment requires a holistic approach to improving the performance of a building’s air-conditioning and lighting systems and replacing plant, fixtures and fittings that may be decades old. Existing A grade buildings, now more than 15 years old, are easy targets. The possibility of attracting quality tenants paying higher rent is a great incentive to invest in refurbishment to maintain the site’s A grade status.
Simple economics discourage owners from upgrading less efficient premises. The capital required usually far exceeds potential rental return and it is the t...