Simpson Kotzman director Steve Toy

9 September 2013 — Sustainability engineering firm Simpson Kotzman has committed to a three star NABERS Base Building Energy rating as part of an environmental upgrade agreement for the former Ansett building on 501 Swanston Street, Melbourne. However, they are quietly optimistic they will reach a higher rating.

Director Steve Toy said because the building would be tenanted throughout the works, the extent of upgrades were “a little restricted” for the EUA. The owner will complete further upgrades as tenants churn, further reducing the energy and water consumption of the building.

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“We have taken a fairly conservative estimate because we would prefer to underpromise and overdeliver,” he said.

Mr Toy said Simpson Kotzman had provided building services design for the refurbishment works covered under the EUA, with estimated reductions in carbon emissions of 607 tonnes a year and more than $80,000 saved in annual energy bills.

The company also completed the energy and water auditing required for the EUA. Once the building works are finished, Simpson Kotzman will be involved in monitoring, tuning and reporting on energy and water use to meet the conditions of the EUA.

Mr Toy said while few clients were talking about EUAs, it was hoped that the 501 Swanston Street project will spark more interest.

“Hopefully EUAs will become more the norm – and the funding will allow building owners carrying out upgrades to incorporate additional environmental initiatives in the design.”

Mr Toy said Simpson Kotzman was also doing a lot of work with local government to push the sustainability envelope for public buildings, particularly with Green Star.

“More and more local councils require sustainability to be the focus of new building design and I think Green Star is a good tool to act as a starting point for this process.

“We do quite a few Green Star assessments using the retail centre tool, completing the first 5 Star Green Star Retail Centre rating in Australia for Chadstone Shopping Centre (West Mall) and also achieved the first As Built Green Star Retail Centre for Stockland Highland Centre at Craigieburn.”

Mr Toy said the company also worked on Green Star ratings for a number of schools and recently completed projects incorporating “innovative passive technologies” for Keysborough College at their Acacia and Banksia campuses. While they both received “only” 4 Star Green Star ratings, they incorporated a vast range of sustainability initiatives usually only found in 5 or 6 Star buildings.

Simpson Kotzman is also working with Stockland on the Selandra Rise Retirement Village in Clyde North, Victoria. This is currently undergoing assessment using the Green Building Council of Australia’s Custom tool and is aiming to be the first Green Star-rated retirement village.

The company, which has been operating for 40 years, has offices in both Melbourne and Sydney and works with clients in retail, education and office spaces.

There are 30 staff  members in the Melbourne head office and another 10 in Sydney.

Most of its engineers were trained in sustainability because “building services represents key systems influencing a building’s use energy and water”.

“A level of sustainable design is now standard in all projects, whether required by code or local planning authorities. But, there are some clients who are setting higher goals and we make every effort to help them achieve them,” Mr Toy said.