Friday, December 23, 2011

Pixel Building / By studio505

Melbourne, Australia
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Grocon will start construction of the first Carbon Neutral office building of its type in Australia, and possibly the world, later this year.To be located at Grocon’s Carlton Brewery site at the top end of Swanston Street, the Pixel building will become a project office for the duration of the $1 billion urban renewal program.

Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo said its most important feature will be that it will be carbon neutral, taking it a step further than carbon zero.
Any carbon emissions used in the building’s ongoing operation will be offset by renewable energy from large photovoltaic panels on the roof, as well as wind turbines,” he said.
In addition, over time Grocon will offset all of the carbon that was generated in manufacturing and installing the construction materials.”
Mr Grollo said he believed this approach was unique in the Australian building industry.
Some research has been done on carbon neutral buildings overseas, and there are several small buildings, different from the Pixel building, in Germany and the US, but we believe this will be the first of its type in an urban environment,” he said.
Photo © Courtesy of John Gollings
Architectural firm Studio 505 has designed the building, with world renowned sustainability experts Umow Lai providing ESD and engineering advice.Grocon will aim for the $6 million building to achieve a 6 Star Greenstar rating, and for it to exceed the points gained by any other development in Australia to date.
We are very excited by the project and we plan to start this building in July, having received our planning permit already from the Minister for Planning,” Mr Grollo said.
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
The four storey building will be on the corner of Queensberry and Bouverie Streets. Other features will include:
  • Supply of 100% fresh outside air at a rate three times the minimum Building Code requirements. This air will be distributed through the floor with an individual control at each work station, in much the same way as vents work on a car dashboard.
  • Technology new to Australia to be imported from Europe in an absorption heat pump chiller, to be used to heat and cool the building. The chiller uses ammonia as a refrigerant and has no harmful ozone, global warming or legionella emissions.
  • Very little potable (drinking) water will be consumed in the building with rainwater providing most of the water supply. In an Australian first, grey water will be recycled through a unique reed bed system that also acts to shade the windows.
  • The building will include exposed concrete ceiling slabs to be cooled via pipes embedded in the concrete and carrying cooled water. This will provide high comfort through radiant cooling while consuming very little energy.
  • Metering will be installed on every floor, rather than just at one point in the building, to monitor all energy and water use – if an analysis shows any irregularities, the energy and water use will be fine tuned.
  • More than 75 per cent of the building’s roof will be covered with native grasses in the form of a green roof. The grasses filter the rainwater and insulate the structure.
  • A detailed Environmental Management plan will be adopted for the project to minimise environmental impacts during construction, with over 95 per cent of construction waste to be recycled.
  • A raised floor will be used to provide space below the floor for air distribution – it also provides excellent flexibility for future changes in tenant fit-out.
  • Almost all of the floor plate will receive full daylight with external shading designed to limit glare.
  • Materials used to build the office will be selected for low embodied energy and to avoid Volatile Organic Compounds and other off-gassing chemicals that can affect the health of occupants.
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Mr Grollo said the building also had excellent access to public transport and would provide facilities for cyclists.
We believe this building will be a benchmark to show the way forward in terms of carbon neutrality and environmentally sustainable office space,” he said. “We plan to complete this innovative building by March 2010.”
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Energy efficiency, along with cleaner and renewable forms of energy generation, is one of the pillars upon which a de-carbonized world will stand or fall. The saving that can be made right now are potentially huge and the costs to implement them relatively low if sufficient numbers of governments, industries, businesses and consumers act. By some conservative estimates, the building sector world-wide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 Billion tones of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over two billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol.” Achim Steiner UN Under-Secretary General and United Nations Environment Program Executive Director, 2007.
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Grocon has developed the Pixel Building as a project that is so environmentally advanced, it’s thought there is nothing presently like it in the world. In the current carbon constrained environment a greater focus will fall on energy efficiency in all that we do. As noted above, the building and construction sector is ideally placed to play a major role in this new world.
Existing environmental rating tools do not yet place sufficient importance on the issue of carbon pollution emitted both by buildings and in the building process. Whilst there is an emphasis on energy efficiency, the main thrust of the tools is the environmental quality to be enjoyed by the building users. This approach has had a significant impact on decision makers concerned with staff retention and points of difference for the marketing of buildings. But the improvements offered by efficient buildings have not reached the Boardroom table as direct financial benefits. The constraints being applied to carbon pollution, and the costs of abatement, will soon change that situation.
Photo © Courtesy of Ben Hosking
Grocon’s Pixel Building is an attempt to deliver a prototype “office of the future” that tackles the issue of carbon head on. In recognition of Grocon’s core value of sustainability, Pixel targets the highest environmental rating ever achieved for buildings using the US, UK and Australian rating schemes – and we believe it can achieve those ratings.
In anticipation of the worldwide move to buildings carbon neutral in their operations, Pixel has been designed to generate more energy on site than it uses, thus off setting carbon generated to run the building. But further, over time it will offset all of the carbon emitted to build it and become carbon negative by giving the energy it generates back to the grid. We believe no other building in the world can claim that outcome. Whilst undertaking the design and cost estimating, care has been taken to quantify the costs of the various systems and approaches designed into the building. This provides Grocon with a platform to talk about the implications of various approaches to the environmental design of commercial office buildings, both now and into the future. This paper provides an insight into these issues, and provides a status update on the Pixel project and the issue of carbon neutrality in the building industry.
Grocon’s Pixel Building is an attempt to deliver a prototype “office of the future” that tackles the issue of carbon head on.”
Photo © Courtesy of John Gollings
In 2008, Grocon appointed architects studio505, sustainability experts Umow Lai and structural engineers Van Der Meer to design a building to be located in the north-west corner of the Carlton Brewery site. The site is bounded by Queensberry Street to the north, Bouverie Street to the west, Shamrock Lane to the south and an existing 19th Century warehouse building to the east.
During the design process it became apparent that not only could the building be designed to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating, but that in fact it was, given the specific conditions of the site and parameters of the brief, possible to deliver a 100% Green Star score – a feat never before achieved in Green Star ratings.
Pixel is a prototype of the ‘office of the future’.We believe all new commercial office developments in the carbon constrained environment will include some of the Pixel systems.
Photo © Courtesy of John Gollings
The original brief called for the design to be carbon zero, meaning that all of the carbon generated annually in running the building was offset by renewable energy. Early in the design process, an investigation was undertaken into the building’s capacity to be carbon neutral. Carbon neutral is a terminology now taken to mean that all of the carbon that is used in running the building, and all of the carbon that is embodied in the materials that make up the building, are offset through the use of renewable energies. As that offset applies to materials used to construct the building, a period of time needs to be deemed appropriate for the offset and in this case a 50 year life cycle has been assumed. We are advised that this is consistent with industry practice.
At the conclusion of the design development period, the project is able to achieve:
  • The ability for 100% Green Star score
  • Carbon Zero operation annually
  • Carbon Neutral, offsetting all embodied energies
  • The highest environmental score yet achieved under the American LEED environmental rating scheme
  • The highest score yet achieved under the UK BREAM environmental rating scheme
Please note that in both the LEED and BREEAM ratings, the assessment has been undertaken against newly introduced and much more stringent rating systems than those previously applied.
All new commercial office developments in the carbon constrained environment will include some of the Pixel systems.”
site plan + ground floor plan--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
The design for Pixel has paid particular attention to the issue of carbon. This emphasis recognises the increasing level of government interest and the imminent regulatory framework for management of carbon pollution. A review of worldwide literature on carbon neutrality indicated that this is a very immature part of the market but one where a significant, and growing, body of interest exists.
In its 2008 budget, the UK government stated that all residential projects will be carbon neutral by 2019 and further that “the government’s ambition is for all new non- domestic building to be zero carbon from 2019”. It is noted that zero carbon is the offsetting of carbon in operation but that it doesn’t include the offsetting of embodied energy – a lesser goal than Carbon Neutral.
In California the requirement is for “all new construction in California to be zero net energy by 2030”, again a lesser standard than carbon neutral.
The rest of US is somewhat behind the UK and California positions - however in 2008 the US Department of Energy moved to partner with innovative companies to pursue what are called Zero Net Energy Commercial Buildings. The Americans use the term Zero Net Energy to describe carbon zero. With the Obama administration leading the US to a new environmental policy platform, it can be contemplated that America will soon reach the same position as the UK in terms of a mandated requirement for carbon zero commercial buildings. In Australia the position in relation to carbon and the commercial property sector is less clear. The Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) aims to deal with carbon by making very significant improvements at the source via imposts placed upon the polluter. This puts into question the steps that downstream users of energy may take. The complimentary measures proposed by the government with the CPRS produce targeted measures to address energy efficiency. These measures will lead the construction industry towards carbon neutrality. Pixel is a response to that future condition.
Grocon’s Pixel delivers carbon neutrality on a building utilising reasonably traditional commercial building materials and delivers that carbon neutral solution on a 250sqm site without requiring the provision of offsets from off site.”
typical floor plan + roof plan--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
The statutory requirement for organisations to report their carbon footprint means that in one way or another the property sector will need to deal with the utilisation of energy (and hence carbon pollution) as a consequence of the carbon reporting obligations of tenants and clients.
Worldwide interest in reducing the carbon footprint of buildings is very high. There are innovative carbon zero projects in America, the UK and Germany. While Pixel achieves carbon neutrality on its own urban site, these other projects are achieving their low carbon positions on the basis of some very, very unusual and particular off-site provisions. For example, the solutions in Germany use very large photo voltaic arrays which cover more than the site of the building, and at least one of the solutions in America offsets its carbon through carbon sequestration in an adjacent forest. Grocon’s Pixel delivers carbon neutrality on a building utilising reasonably traditional commercial building materials, and delivers that carbon neutral solution on a 250sqm site without requiring the provision of offsets from off site.
To the best of our knowledge, that achievement would be the first time it has been delivered anywhere in the world.
sections--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
In early 2009, Grocon commissioned Umow Lai to undertake an assessment of Pixel utilising the environmental rating tools common in the US and the UK. A report on the outcome of this process received in March 2009 includes the comment;
The Pixel Building is capable of achieving the highest credit score of any equivalent project to date within each of the LEED Version 2.2, LEED 2009, BREEAM Offices 2008 and GBCA Green Star Office V3 ratings tools.“
The LEED scheme is adopted throughout the United States and is applicable in Canada, China, the UAE, South America and India. The BREEAM rating tool is utilised within the UK and throughout Europe and Hong Kong. When consideration is given to the Asian spread of the GBCA Green Star rating tool, it is evident that these three rating tools together cover a significant proportion of the developed and the developing world.
Whilst there is always an element of risk in relation to the actual achievement of points in a rating process, the work done to date and the nature of this project is such that it provides us with a very high degree of certainty as to the outcome once this building is fully assessed.
elevations--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
The building is already registered under the Green Building Council’s Green Star rating system to enable that assessment to commence. The assessment undertaken by Umow Lai for LEED and BREEAM has concluded that it would be possible for the project to be formally assessed against those rating tools, notwithstanding that it is not geographically located in the areas in which those tools are commonly used.
  • 100% Fresh Air System
  • Ammonia Refrigeration
  • Chilled Structure
  • Green Roof
  • Photo voltaic and Wind
  • Power Generation
  • Reed Bed Water Treatment
  • Reliance on Natural Daylight
  • Openable Windows
  • Green Concrete
  • Gas Fired Absorption Chillers
  • Extensive Recycling
  • Task-Based Air
The Pixel Building is capable of achieving the highest credit score of any equivalent project to date within each of the [LEED Version 2.2, LEED 2009, BREEAM Offices 2008 and GBCA Green Star Office V3] ratings tools.”
Description from Grocon:
facades--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
details diagram--drawing© Courtesy of studio505
water cycle diagram--drawing© Courtesy of studio505

Video: The award winning Pixel by studio505 for client Grocon.

Project Data
Project name: Pixel
Address: 205 Queensberry St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
Program: Office

The people
Client / Owner / Developer: Grocon
Architect: studio505
Photographs: © Ben Hosking, John Gollings, studio505

Note>>Location in this map, indicate city/country but not exact address.
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