Old brewery site becoming a model in sustainability

31 January 2014
Newmarket site Project Manager Lee Johnson leads a team from Property Services on a site visit.

Building a new campus has provided The University of Auckland with an opportunity to implement sustainability practices well before the first students arrive.

The Newmarket site, previously owned by Lion Breweries, is being transformed with old warehouses demolished, and new facilities and spaces being built. The project has been designed using sustainable, energy-saving initiatives, which were incorporated before the ink had dried on the purchase agreement.

“We were part of the thinking process right from the start, working on the design of the campus, and where we can put in place best practice energy-saving initiatives,” said Paul Duval, Technical Services Manager, at the University.

Existing bore water reserves are being used for cooling systems and irrigation systems, before returned to source, rather than using the City’s water supply and sewerage system.

Open spaces that maximise the use of natural light, reducing the need for electrical lighting, are being built in a process that is referred to as “daylight harvesting”.

Heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) systems while greater in number, are also therefore able to be smaller in size, using electromagnetic, commutated motors – a direct current motor, as opposed to an alternating current motor – which can have energy savings of up to 70%.

“Newmarket is the first campus where we’ll be using a large number of DC-powered fan cool units, although they will also be in the new science building.”

The HVAC units allow for higher temperature ‘set-points’ which make them operate more efficiently.

“If you have a temperature outside of say 28°C, and your air conditioned temperature is set to 22°C, the unit has to work quite hard to keep that temperature at 22°C,” explains Paul. “But if you set the temperature to 25°C, the unit works half as hard for what is a still noticeable, comfortably cool drop in temperature.”

The units, along with electrical lighting (energy-efficient bulbs, of course), are capable of being controlled by a central building management system, which allows administrators to monitor for any abnormalities in readings.

These units also have occupancy sensors and time schedules, so that the units and lighting are only in use during set periods of time, and even then, only if there is occupancy detected. Save for the handful of spaces, that require electricity or carefully controlled temperatures.

And there’s slim chance of an override, if you happen to come in outside of those hours. “The systems just won’t operate outside the specific parameters that are set for it. So having one person come in to work and ask that the building’s air conditioning units are turned on is a really inefficient use of energy and likely a request we would decline.”

Outside of efficient energy use, there are more strategic reasons for the energy-saving initiatives at Newmarket.

“We all have sustainability targets to achieve now, it’s in the Strategic Plan, and we aren’t going to hit those targets if we don’t get this right, from the start.”