Sydney’s EY Centre dumps eco-bling for top sustainability rating

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Tower's 5.5 NABERS stars help energy-efficient office to sweep up at CIBSE awards

A super-insulating closed cavity facade and an energy efficient demand-controlled ventilation system are among the innovations that helped the EY Centre office tower in Sydney take three top accolades at the 2019 Building Performance Awards of UK-based CIBSE.

The 33-storey high rise, designed by architect Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp in collaboration with contractor/developer Mirvac, achieved an industry-leading 5.5 stars under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), which shows a 26% reduction in carbon emissions over a 5 star performance. The rating is particularly significant given the high levels of user comfort and lack of tri/cogeneration or renewable technologies, leading judges to describe the scheme as ‘an exemplary project’ and praise its ‘truly holistic approach to building performance and wellbeing’.

Mirvac is co-owner and manager of the building and had a vested interest in its long-term operational performance. A whole life approach to the development incorporated lessons from recent projects and early operational involvement in the design. The firm says this led it to remove over-complex and inefficient ‘eco-bling’ and focus on ‘extended tuning’ of systems in use.

The high performance closed cavity glass facade features an automated timber blind system that simultaneously improves views outside, controls light, sound and heat and reduces glare and energy use. The blind management system adjusts the angle of blinds based on input from light sensors on the roof and a ‘shadow management device’ that determines whether windows are in shadow.

Australia’s first fully LED-lit large premium grade office building, the EY Centre also includes an on-site rainwater capture and reuse system that reduces potable water consumption. High volumes of fresh air and demand-controlled ventilation as part of a hybrid HVAC enhance the internal environment and comfort levels.

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Mirvac’s HQ occupies six floors within the building and achieved Australia’s first Gold International Well Building Institute rating and a 6 Star Green Star Interiors rating. Staff can take a break from desk-based activities to tend vegetables at the pop-up urban farm in the basement.

An extensive metering system was designed and installed to monitor and interrogate operational performance and fully disaggregate energy and water consumption, ready for comparison with designed energy and water models.

A SkySpark fault detection and diagnosis platform links to the BSM to proactively analyse the building’s data and help find opportunities for performance improvements.

Fine tuning performance from an initial 5 Star NABERS energy rating to 5.5 Star meant energy consumption was reduced by 26%, equivalent to an AU$188,800 (AU$4.84/m2) saving for building occupants. Mirvac has estimated that the reduction could boost the building’s market valuation by over AU$3.7 million.

The EY Centre won CIBSE’s Project of the Year – International Award, the Best-of-the-Best Award, and Building Performance Champion of the Year.

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