Hindmarsh embraces sustainable design
Inspired by the town’s unique identity as a hub of wheat production with steel storage silos and agricultural sheds dotting the landscape, Melbourne-based architecture firm k20 Architecture has incorporated sustainable design into the Hindmarsh Shire Council’s corporate centre in Nhill, north-west Victoria.
With ESD principles at the core of the building’s design intent, the architect firm used a number of innovations to deliver an outcome that would not only minimise embodied energy and energy loadings within the building, but also reduce carbon output for the life of the project.
k20 Architecture along with Intrax Consulting Engineers used the principles of the Green Star rating system to assess and implement measures that are actually effective in improving the building’s impact with respect to both its interior environment and the wider environment more broadly.
Conscious of the building’s location in a region which is exposed to extreme temperature conditions, the architects paid much attention to the building’s thermal performance.
By constructing a series of thermal chambers underground via earth tubes and underfloor ventilation plenums, fresh air is drawn in from the exterior and cooled (or warmed) naturally by the earth before being redistributed back throughout the building via air displacement plenums.
The Hindmarsh approach pre-tempers the air via an earth pipe heat exchange system before it is introduced into the habitable areas of the building, thus reducing the energy required to heat or cool the air once inside the space.
An underfloor air distribution (UFAD) air-conditioning system was then designed to provide an excellent level of control for occupants via a series of operable floor grilles.
Placing the grilles on the floor of the building levels, rather than along the ceiling as is customary with traditional air-conditioning systems, ensures the freshest air supply is delivered closest to the occupied space, thus delivering the highest level of health benefits.
With air quality addressed, LED lighting systems were selected for reduced energy consumption and maintenance within the main workspaces, and solar panels were installed on the roof to harvest energy to offset energy consumption.
Over 80% of the existing building’s materials were recycled before the existing infrastructure was demolished, while one of the three original buildings was retained and repurposed in order to minimise the embodied energy within the building’s design.
Very little steel was used in the building’s design, but instead k20 Architecture custom designed and manufactured a laminated timber product from locally sustainably sourced Vic Ash timber to replace steel for structural purposes without the associated environmental consequences.
The building also consumes less energy via passive solar design, crossflow ventilation principles and zoned motion-detecting lighting, and has a number of vertical green walls aimed to enhance the indoor air quality, which collectively promote a sustainable lifestyle informing the culture of the organisation.
An electronic control and monitoring system has also been installed to test the effectiveness of the measures taken to minimise energy consumption, so that the positive impact of the building’s systems can be measured and documented over time, resulting in more informed decisions about building systems in the future.
k20 Architecture Director Theo Kerlidis said: “The challenge was delivering a modern building incorporating leading-edge design principles while still serving our responsibility to the community to deliver a building that they will accept as their own.
“I think the fact that we have been able to incorporate one of the original buildings into the site’s design and repurpose this structure for a more modern use shows respect for both the past and the future,” he said.
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