Construction Underway on Carbon Neutral Building with Zero Net Energy, Brisbane Queensland Australia

15 February 2012

The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute is Australia’s first successful use of a 3-stage passive-wheel system to achieve comfort cooling in a sub-tropical climate.

Our brief was to provide a carbon neutral building with zero net energy and zero net water usage, which provides thermal comfort all year round without using combustion or ODP refrigerants. Setting a new benchmark for the Brisbane climate, the GCI promises to be a beacon of sustainability for the University and South East Queensland.

Medland Metropolis was engaged by HASSELL to undertake mechanical and electrical engineering design. Our mechanical team assisted in the design of a passive system calculated to provide natural ventilation to the building. In addition, our team designed an active thermal comfort system, incorporating a thermal labyrinth, free energy air-handler, displacement floor air distribution, bio-filtration green wall and in-slab hydronic cooling. Our free energy air-handler, purpose built for GCI, is thought to be the first in Australia to utilise 3 energy recovery wheels. Put simply, the free energy air-handler is powered by the building’s solar array. The air is heated using thermal evacuated tube collectors; dehumidified using a desiccant thermal wheel, and cooled using recycled rain water, hence the three energy recovery wheels. This makes it a truly innovative stand-alone solution.

The renewable electrical systems of the Global Change Institute include solar panels, wind turbines and lift regeneration. Our electrical team designed a 160kW solar array, which is to provide power to a state-of-the-art, locally supplied internal zinc bromide battery storage system. Our low-energy LED and compact fluorescent lighting system design makes use of both motion and photo-sensitive sensors to minimise the lighting usage during daylight hours and periods of low building occupancy.

Tying all of these services together is a Building Management System which automatically controls each space for a highly efficient and truly inspiring green building environment.

The Medland Metropolis team are passionate about taking building services engineering to the highest standards of sustainability.  To hear more about how our engineering can enhance your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us on  [email protected]

Image supplied by HASSELL