By Donna Kelly

31 July 2012 – Going green – and the mining boom – has paid off for one accommodation development in the Pilbara.

Centauri’s pre-fabricated Landing Resort, at Port Hedland in Western Australia, designed with the aim of producing the world’s first carbon neutral resort, with wastewater recycling, has been snapped  for a five-year lease by BHP Billiton, according to industry sources.

The resort, designed by Noel Robinson Architects and engineers Umow Lai with other project members including Wood and Grieve and Cardno , will also have building integrated photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, a central energy facility with biofuel trigeneration system, site cooling, heating and power demands and chilled water thermal storage.

Umow Lai associate director Anthony Marklund, said his role was to help optimise the passive design and material selection of the buildings.

Getting the architecture to perform well from a thermal efficiency and embodied carbon perspective was one of the top priorities when aiming to achieve a cost effective carbon neutral design approach, Mr Marklund said.

“The other top priority is the integrated building services approach,” he said.

“Having the architecture and services right helps minimise the vital final piece of the carbon neutral jigsaw puzzle – onsite renewable energy sources.  Though costly, these are required to offset the operational and embodied carbon.”

Mr Marklund said extensive modular prefabrication construction techniques were being used to deliver the project to a challenging program, while optimising opportunity for improved “factory” quality and construction health and safety.

Stages 1 and 2 of the resort are being built in Thailand and Melbourne, with the Melbourne component being constructed Melbourne residential builder Hickory through its subsidiary Unitised Building, and will be shipped to Port Hedland, trucked to site and assembled with a minimum of material wastage and site operatives.

The hotel rooms will be airconditioned by active chilled beams, a first for Australia, fed by 100 per cent outside air systems with total heat recovery.

Mr Marklund said the beams were quiet, had no moving parts and operated with a dry cooling coil.  By reducing sources of moisture, they also have an additional benefit of reducing risk of toxic mould forming in airconditioning systems.  But air handling unit coils are also intended to be treated with anticorrosion and antifungal protectant.

“In order to ensure the active chilled beams operate as intended, the rooms are specified to high air tightness and are moisture proofed with factory and onsite testing of air permeability and thermal imaging proposed for quality control.

“Any condensate formed will be captured and recycled.”

Mr Marklund said an adjacent site was being investigated for the potential to harness wind energy., but these would need to withstand cyclone conditions.

Mr Marklund said The Landing Resort was Umow Lai’s first project in the Pilbara and the largest project with a carbon neutral target.

Challenges included the remote location, absence of natural gas mains and other limitations to authority infrastructure.

“For example, the water supply quantity to the site is annually capped and as there is no authority sewage infrastructure, the site simply has to minimise potable water use and recycle and use all wastewater on site,” he said.

“The development approval requires that all site stormwater must also all be retained on site by use of leading water sensitive urban design.

“It means there will be a heavy reliance on the ability to integrate sufficient renewable energy sources on site and to export excess renewable energy to Horizon Power with the grid acting as an energy store.

“Available energy storage technologies currently have relatively poor viability for a commercial project of this scale.”

Umow Lai, appointed by the Perth-based Centauri Group, is working closely with the project team with members including Noel Robinson Architects, Wood and Grieve and Cardno.

Mr Marklund said the project could be the world’s first carbon negative resort.

“If this is realised, the project will effectively act as a carbon sink by exporting more renewable energy than fossil fuel energy consumed during construction and operation.

“The sustainability goals being aimed for also include waste minimisation, eco-bus commuter transport and engagement with the local indigenous community.”

Meanwhile, a BHP Billiton spokeswoman said the company could not comment on its commercial contracts and could not confirm the five-year lease.