Museums Victoria is set for a massive upgrade of efficiency over six assets, thanks to $11 million in funding from the Greener Government Buildings program.
The program of works to be delivered by engineering company Siemens is expected to see greenhouse gas emissions cut by 35 per cent, water use reduced by six per cent, and electricity costs cut by 32 per cent.
The announcement comes as industry sources are bracing for electricity price rises of 15-30 per cent and once again place energy efficiency once again at the forefront of concern for major property owners.
The buildings targeted in the Museums portfolio include the 1880s World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks, the Immigration Museum and two storage facilities.
Initiatives include new LED lighting, chillers and water systems, as well as a new building management system. Under the Greener Governments Building program, the $11 million in capital costs will be financed by the Victorian government, with Museums Victoria using energy bill savings to pay back the loan, which should occur within seven years.
The successful energy efficiency program had been cut in 2014 by the then Coalition government before being reinstated last year by the current Andrews Labor government.
Speaking to The Fifth Estate, global chief executive of Siemens Building Technologies Matthias Rebellius said forward-thinking governments and a move towards net zero buildings was great for business.
He said while net zero buildings would not be achievable everywhere, in many instances it could be done with existing technologies.
Siemens itself is planning for its operations and facilities to be carbon neutral by 2030, through efficiency technologies, distributed energy and clean energy procurement.
The US and Europe (particularly Germany) were key markets for building efficiency technology, he said, however China was catching up fast, thanks to a concerted effort to tackle emissions.
Mr Rebellius praised the Victorian government for “acting as a role model” to the private sector and showing how cost-effective many upgrades could be.
“It’s not only because the government does it [that others should follow suit]. It makes sense for the bottom line.”
Phase 2 of the program will look at installing co-generation on the roof of the 80,000 square metre Melbourne Museum.
Head of the Siemens building technology division in Australia and New Zealand Stefan Schwab told The Fifth Estate that while feasibility for co-generation hadn’t been there for many commercial buildings over the past 3-4 years, newer technology meant that it was still feasible, however, there would be more investigation and discussion in collaboration with Museums Victoria to see if it is the best way forward.
Mr Rebellius addressed a launch event at the Royal Exhibition Hall on Thursday, where 400 incandescent and fluorescent lights have been replaced with LEDs.
“Buildings represent 40 per cent of primary energy use globally, and energy consumption in buildings is projected to rise substantially,” he said. “A holistic review of sustainability initiatives by any government will have to consider rising operating costs and impact of buildings on the environment.
“I commend the Victorian government and Museums Victoria on the sustainability work that is a benchmark not just in the state, but also in Australia and across the Southern Hemisphere.”
Other notable public buildings Siemens has worked on include Carnegie Hall in New York City, the London Crystal, the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the MCG in Melbourne.