A new Government office block being constructed in Dickson by Doma Group will be the ACT’s first zero-emission office building, sourcing all its heating, cooling and ventilation needs from 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Doma says the 13,200 square metre ACT Government Office is part of its DKSN precinct development and will be completed in 2020, when all of the ACT’s electricity needs will come from renewable sources.
The company is using innovative electric technologies instead of relying on a gas-fired system, and deploying slab heating and solar panels in a building that is set to be a model for other developments.
Doma Development General Manager, Gavin Edgar said the company had worked with the Government, which will be the anchor tenant for 20 years, and Doma’s consulting engineers, Rudds, to design the building.
It will be the first in the ACT to use an all-electric system for its heating and cooling.
“Traditionally, chillers have only been capable of providing chilled water which helps cool the building and then a gas boiler is required to provide heating,” Mr Edgar said. “The solution being adopted for Dickson provides
both heating and cooling for the building using a combination of water-cooled and air-cooled heat pump chillers which have the capability to reverse their mode of operation and provide either chilled or hot water.”
He said that while the all-electric technology had been implemented in other countries it had not been substantially tested in climates like Canberra’s.
“Temperatures in the ACT vary significantly over the year from season to season, so we have had to cater for this,” Mr Edgar said. “The chiller arrangements have been optimised to manage the peak heating loads in winter and cooling in summer, as well as handle the shoulder seasons where simultaneous heating and cooling is required.”
He said that to help improve thermal comfort, radiant slab heating has been adopted in the ground level entrance lobby and atrium, which will improve the comfort level for people visiting Access Canberra.
A large array of solar roof panels was also being installed to generate power and help keep electricity bills down, with the offset about 30 per cent of the overall base building electricity/energy costs.
“The building’s innovations will not only produce an environmentally friendly, zero emissions building in line with ACT Government policy of having 100 per cent of the Territory’s electricity sourced from
renewable electricity, it will demonstrate the feasibility of this technology to industry in Canberra and to the wider community,” Mr Edgar said.
He said the cost of the electric set-up was slightly higher than for a conventional system in the ACT over the lifecycle but well worth the investment.
“Doma intend to undertake a review of the HVAC performance after building completion and 12 months operation and consider rolling out the approach to future buildings,” he said.
Mr Edgar said the building industry in general should consider adopting such systems. “If the Government is committed to have 100 per cent renewable energy across the grid by a certain date, all-electric solutions need to be adopted for buildings to fully utilise this and minimise CO2 emissions. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel,” he said.
ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury congratulated Doma for rising to the zero-emissions challenge. “Zero-emission commercial buildings are both technically feasible and highly cost-effective,” he said. “Doma and the ACT Government are demonstrating that new commercial buildings can be gas-free, and it lays down the challenge to others in the industry to match this climate-friendly standard.”