Existing facade

11 November 2010 – Norman Disney & Young makes big claims on its sustainability credentials, so when it sought new corporate offices in Melbourne in 2007, the company’s core values of sustainable initiatives had to be at the forefront of any building selected.

Even so, according to the company, locals were surprised that NDY purchased an unremarkable 1940s red brick factory at 115 Batman Street, in the industrial suburb of West Melbourne. The building had been regarded as an eyesore by most in the area and a major refurbishment was needed.

According to NDY chief executive officer Ian Hopkins, embarking on a refurbishment project of this scale took vision and commitment and the process became a two-year exercise in practising what the company preaches.

New facade

New Facade

“From a financial point of view it would have been more economically prudent to have demolished the existing building,” he said, “but that was not considered in keeping with NDY’s philosophy of creating a showcase of its sustainability capabilities.

“Despite being quite derelict, it looked like we could retain much of the existing building including the existing slab. However that turned out not to be feasible given the load requirements of the build. We had to gut the internal structure and were left with just the exterior brick walls.”

In conjunction with the architects, the company examined various design options and building alternatives but one aspect that it did not want to compromise on was its clear focus on energy efficiency, Mr Hopkins said.

Lead architect on the project and design principal for e+architecture, Ermin Smrekar, said another item the company did not want to compromise on was a high Green Star rating.

“One of the ‘non-negotiables’ of the brief from NDY was for a Five Green Star rated building and its ability to ‘walk the talk’,” Mr Smrekar said.

“NDY was also very clear about the retention of the perimeter walls and facade of the existing building as well as the amount of accommodation required in terms of numbers of people and facilities to be provided.”

In the end the Batman Street project has realised the “trifecta” of a Five Star rating under Office Design and As Built v2 rating tools, as well as a Five Star Office Interiors v1.1 rating, Mr Smrekar said.

Clever design features have been incorporated throughout the base building and the fitout, and according to Mr Hopkins the HVAC have played a central role in realising significant energy efficiencies.

“To ensure our energy efficiency figures were optimised via the passive chilled beam solution (as opposed to the more energy intensive active chilled beams), it was necessary to double glaze all windows and apply fixed one-metre sun shades to the exterior of most windows. Retaining the original brick walls has also provided high thermal inertia,” he said.

“The exposed services weaving overhead – ductwork, fire protection, electrical – were incorporated as a pragmatic display of the company’s engineering excellence and expertise.

Interior
“After much discussion between NDY and the architects, it was decided to leave these exposed services unpainted to see them in their raw state thereby maintaining a very clear picture of the inner workings of what contributes to making this a green star rated building. In a practical sense, these exposed services serve as a teaching tool for young engineers who can get an instant visual of the operational aspects of these critical facilities.”

According to Evalin Ling, associate at NDY and ESD consultant for the project, the HVAC system ensures the space is comfortable and operates well in extreme conditions. “During Melbourne’s hot spells, where we experienced several 40°C plus days in a row, the system coped well and design conditions were maintained in the area,” Ms Ling said.

A key component of NDY’s brief was to ensure the completed building was a state-of-the-art working environment for staff while being a showcase of NDY’s building services capabilities to clients.

Key features of the NDY headquarters in Melbourne include:

  • Lighting – On the lower levels it was imperative that the lighting solution delivered a good working environment with minimal energy consumption and was aesthetically acceptable with the exposed installation method. Occupancy and daylight sensors address further energy efficiency initiatives throughout the building.
  • The general lighting and services layout is not intrinsically linked to the floor plan. No ceilings and minimal full height partitioning enables flexibility in the general floor plan layout and allows modifications of the floor layout to occur without major revisions to the existing services.
  • The breakout staff area on the first floor contains some of the more “visually impressive” customised light fittings. Each of the 12 oval shaped pendants is a panoramic photograph of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne: a way of introducing familiar green landscapes into a popular gathering point.
  • Plants – There are real plants throughout the building, with an average of two succulents per staff member, working away to absorb the CO2 in the air.
  • High performance insulation to underside of ground floor, new facade above existing and new roof
  • Passive chilled beam air-conditioning system to ground, first and second floors
  • VAV system with economy cycle to Level 3
  • Increased fresh air supply to all levels. On the ground, first and second floors fresh air is supplied at 2 litres a square metre, which is twice the minimum code requirement
  • Wetted pad heat rejection system for chiller to optimise energy consumption, minimise water consumption and eliminate legionella risk
  • High efficiency gas fired boiler
  • Hot water radiators to provide optimum control of heating on ground, first and second floors
  • Comprehensive BMCS to facilitate fine tuning and optimisation of energy consumption
  • High efficiency luminaries
  • Comprehensive lighting control system to ensure lights are off when areas are unoccupied
  • Water storage tank under basement slab to capture stormwater and fire test water for re-use in toilet cisterns and for air conditioning system wetted pad condenser
  • High efficiency low water consumption fittings throughout
  • Solar heated domestic hot water system Retention of existing external brick walls to provide high thermal inertia
  • High performance double-glazing.