Adam Greaves

4 July 2012 – Adelaide based Lucid Consulting recently appointed  Adam Greaves, as its national sustainability manager.

The company is a building design firm specialising in mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and fire services for the commercial construction sector. It has offices in Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne and regularly consults on projects around Australia.

The Fifth Estate caught up with Mr Greaves to chat about him, his role and his company’s future.

Question: What is your background and how did you develop an interest in sustainable construction projects?

Answer: (I have a) Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Personally, I have always felt consciously uncomfortable in being wasteful of natural resources, water, energy, materials, food. The bonus for me is that now I have a career in assisting developments, buildings, organisations and people to minimise their impact on such resources. Also I’m fortunate enough to work for an organisation that has the same ethos.

What does your role involve specifically and what services does Lucid Consulting offer its clients?

(It involves) designing new buildings and refurbishment of existing buildings to be more efficient with natural resources. Typically this involves a lot of background work, investigating and researching technologies, analysis and dynamic modelling of buildings with technical software, collaboration with the architect to drive practical solutions, financial analysis to advise the client of capital expenditure and associated annual energy savings.

What sectors are you most active in and why?

Commercial office buildings – as there is strong demand for energy and water efficient buildings from tenants; schools and public buildings – as there is strong demand for environmental sustainability from staff, students and the wider community and; universities and healthcare facilities – as they are large consumers and offer significant opportunities which can be self-financing.

What are some of the major projects you are working on at the moment?

  • 1 King William Street, Adeliade– a 19-storey office tower built in the 1960s. It is currently undergoing major amenity, energy and water performance upgrades. We are developing a range of upgrade works for improved performance including a tri-generation system and thermal energy storage.
  • In Sturt Street, Adelaide, a multi-storey apartment building, a mixed-use and community development which will feature an extensive array of environmental initiatives including an innovative waste vacuum system with a recyclables stream, excellent passive design and natural ventilation of apartments resulting in a significantly reduced demand for air conditioning, rainwater harvesting, recycled water and electric car charging points to name a few.

Are you finding demand for more energy efficient building services is increasing in Australia? Why? Is this part of an international trend?

Demand has increased in recent times and there are a number of local drivers behind this. I wouldn’t necessarily say that any international trend has been a major driver, I don’t think we necessarily need to look overseas for the answers. Australians are very good at solving problems ourselves and responding to market conditions.

Furthermore, there are numerous engineers and architects who have been designing energy efficient buildings from long before I started my professional career. Buildings have been around a lot longer than airconditioning and electricity, designing a building that responds to its climatic condition is not a new concept, but like most knowledge bases and skillsets, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”.

The main drivers behind energy efficient buildings are tenant demand (corporate social responsibility); government policy (as tenants); regulation (building codes); regulation (mandatory disclosure); financial (property value) and; financial – reducing operational expenses (cost of electricity increasing).

Where do you think are the growth areas for sustainable design and building services in the future?

Planning and integrated design. Most  people are aware that we cannot continue with an urban sprawl model of growth. It places high cost strain on infrastructure, community services and public transport. We need to move toward higher density living which will need multiple considerations (including) access to natural daylight for lower level buildings, availability of public transport, access to green spaces and shared services such as localised power, heating and cooling systems.

Ageing and full capacity electrical distribution infrastructure is a high cost burden that we are all experiencing through our energy bills and continued energy cost inflation. Large scale increase in demand for refrigerated air conditioning systems in our homes over the past ten years and greater use of electronic devices are major reasons for costly electrical infrastructure upgrade requirements.

More focus on energy efficient buildings and energy efficient communities with district power, heating and cooling systems is where I see future growth in sustainability.