Technology, Passion & Collaboration Create Green Star Gold

Media Releases / November 2016
An audacious sustainability goal driven by necessity, combined with new technologies and the collective will to learn, adapt and innovate, has seen Western Sydney University’s new $30 million state of the art Science Building on track to achieve a 6 star Green Star rating and set new Australian construction standards. 

At the outset of this project we had to solve an energy problem: the University’s Parramatta campus was virtually at the threshold of its high voltage supply capacity, so energy minimisation was a key design driver.  dwp|suters led a highly collaborative process of open discourse, lateral thinking and eight weeks of value engineering to find innovative solutions and efficiencies; saving $1.8million and creating a better quality outcome for students and staff.

dwp|suters’ CEO Leone Lorrimer said, ‘Our will to continuously strive for a 6 star target, the University’s willingness to go into unchartered territory and the drive of the construction team created innovations around construction, procurement and planning throughout the build.  Every aspect of the project was questioned.  As we generated more and more ideas, the collective excitement grew.  In what ways can we change how we build? How can we improve this idea?  This transformative process was the crucible in which we converted base metal into gold.’

Integral to the building’s sustainability performance is a concrete core tempering (CCT) HVAC system. Featuring 22km of hydronic pipework, the system utilises the building’s concrete mass to store heat energy and deliver efficient cooling and heating to spaces independent of airflow.

Laboratory design requires 100% of the air to be conditioned for health and safety; typically a high energy demand.  However the HVAC active thermal mass solution significantly reduces the quantity of air needing treatment, while high efficiency dehumidifying air handling units ventilate the building with 100% fresh air.  This solution combined with a 100kw photovoltaic array means the building is able to reduce a significant portion of its energy needs.

Technological advances include the integration of a highly detailed 3D point cloud scan of the hydronic system into the BIM model. This enhanced model was fundamental in assisting clash detection, informing construction methods, tracking Green Star credits and providing better engagement with subcontractors; resulting in significant cost and material savings and a faster construction time.

‘Cupolex’, a polypropylene formwork system made from recycled car batteries, was used under the ground floor slab; reducing groundworks and materials, increasing speed, and improving quality and accuracy. Its use is relatively new in commercial applications and has resulted in a new Australian Standard.

The new building has capacity for over 400 students and staff and affords the opportunity for significant expansion of the University's science and medical science research programs.  The brief required a highly technical environment that encourages students and researchers to collaborate and exchange learnings.  dwp|suters’ planning provides a contemporary learning experience allowing for sophisticated research and teaching in the physical, chemical and biological sciences.  

The major circulation spine doubles as a collaborative flexible, informal student learning precinct with shared zones to break down traditional thinking and lower barriers between lecturers, researchers and students.  The combination of circulation, workspace and breakout spaces, many with glazed internal walls; creates a highly engaging facility strongly pitched for transparency, energy and active sharing of knowledge and research.