TAFE sets green benchmark
Author: By LAUREL-LEE RODERICK
Publication: Illawarra Mercury
POWER-GUZZLING airconditioners are being given the flick by the Illawarra Institute of TAFE.
The educational institution is lifting its green credentials with a commitment to "practise what it preaches".
The library and information services building at the Shellharbour TAFE campus set a benchmark in ecologically sustainable design when it was completed in December.
The energy-efficient design by Suters Architects was nominated in the Royal Australian Institute of Architects awards, announced last week.
The building has already been recognised with a bronze medal in the Francis Greenway Awards for green design.
Suters' architect and project controller Dino Di Paulo said the key to the design was the building's cross-flow ventilation. Other features include using recycled water and lights controlled by motion sensors.
"What we are trying to do is minimise, if not delete, the requirement for airconditioning," Mr Di Paulo said.
"We could have delivered a building with no airconditioning but instead we delivered a super-efficient system. The airconditioning plant is running at about 40 per cent less than its normal capacity."
The increasing drain on the state's power supply caused by Australia's love affair with airconditioners recently forced the NSW Government to reveal it was investigating options for new coal-fired power plants.
State Government policies were now putting the onus on architects to come up with greener designs, Mr Di Paulo said. Illawarra Institute director Barry Peddle said environmental issues were an integral part of TAFE's focus.
"We want to integrate sustainable environmental management into more and more of our courses so we need to practise what we preach," Mr Peddle said.
Improved energy efficiency and cost savings were one advantage. But the new design principles were also translating into a better learning environment, Mr Peddle said.
While the green design features added about 20 per cent to construction costs, they are expected to deliver significant operational savings.
? Cross-flow ventilation pushes heat up through a central vertical stack, disguised as a skylight.
? North-east orientation to take advantage of coastal breezes.
? Curved zincalume walls to protect the building from south-westerly winds in winter and afternoon sun in summer.
? Roof water collected in tanks for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens.
? Artificial lighting controlled with motion sensors.
? Airconditioning which kicks in when temperature reaches 26 degrees.