A high-efficiency ground source heat exchanger coupled with an in-slab hydronic system supports the passive system.
To meet the Living Building Challenge, a building needs to be net zero energy and water. This is partially met by designing the building and its systems for minimum energy use. It's anticipated that the centre will be one of the lowest energy buildings of its type in Australia, with a projected consumption of just 60kWh/m².
An array of photovoltaic panels on the high-bay building, together with a photovoltaic thermal testing site in the roof of the other building, generates 40% more electricity than the building needs. Excess energy is used by neighbouring buildings on the Innovation Campus, with further surplus supplied to the grid.
The centre also captures and stores rainwater in a 65,000 litre tank, and the water is then used throughout the building, including for flushing toilets, cleaning and garden irrigation.
The building has water-efficient fixtures and fittings and does not use water-hungry evaporative cooling towers in its air-conditioning system. As a result, its water consumption and supply are completely self-sustaining, except for the legal requirement to provide town water for drinking.
One other requirement of the Living Building Challenge was the selection of materials that do not harm human health or the environment in any fundamental way, and that are produced and supplied in a socially responsible manner. This highlighted a current difficulty in getting precise information from suppliers about what is in their products and where they actually come from.
For Professor Paul Cooper, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre is a true living laboratory a place to work together with industry and academic collaborators from around the world.
"We're developing new products and systems that will not only improve energy efficiency and sustainability for today's buildings, but which will improve the resilience of our built environment to climate, economic and social change in the future."