UPDATED: Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay is getting a sustainability upgrade as part of an overall package of works to increase the capacity and efficiency of the facility. The Port Authority of New South Wales commissioned engineering firm Umow Lai to provide a range of engineering services including mechanical, electrical, security, communications, hydraulics, fire protection, audio visual and fire safety services. 

The mechanical services design includes an underfloor air distribution system for heating, ventilation and airconditioning, which is more energy efficient than ceiling-based systems, as it only heats or cools the occupied zone.

The terminal building’s new HVAC system is a mixed mode system, with 100 per cent natural ventilation used when the outdoor weather conditions are suitable. A weather station has been installed, which is linked to the controls of louvres installed high up on the western side of the terminal’s new operable facade and to large doors on the eastern side. On clement days, the louvres and doors open automatically, and natural stratification ensures warm air is drawn out the western side while fresh air is drawn in from the east. During these times, the entire mechanical HVAC plant shuts down, saving considerably on energy.

Lighting has been upgraded, with LED lighting installed throughout the second floor, and energy-efficient fluorescents on the first floor.

Other innovative features of the engineering design include a fire safety strategy utilising passive smoke management via an operable facade and mezzanine void smoke reservoir.

“When completed, the upgrade to the OPT will ensure there is more flexibility within various spaces to cater for multiple uses such as terminal operations, functions and events. And the new lifts and travelators will improve passenger movement throughout the terminal,” Paul Jacobsen, Umow Lai associate director and leader of the project team.

The upgrade will also enable the terminal to more comfortably handle larger cruise ships, which are visiting with increasing frequency. In 2013-14 the terminal saw its highest volume of passengers to date, with 261 cruise ship visits disembarking and embarking more than 1.2 million passengers.

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  1. I hope the terminal upgrades will also include the principles of universal design. This means the building can be used by anyone regardless of age, ability or background. The problem with LED lighting is that it is often dim and people with low vision have difficulty in seeing signs and reading instructions in low light. Given that the cruise market is attracting large numbers of older travellers and people with disabilities to their ships, our terminals should also be designed with inclusivity in mind.

  2. Hi Lyndall,

    We gathered some further detail from the engineers, and yes, there is LED lighting. The mechanical services design and structural design also work together to substantially reduce the use of electricity to power ventilation, cooling or heating.

    We have updated the story with the new information – thanks for asking the questions!

  3. I think the way this article is written it doesn’t make it clear how these fixes will make the terminal greener it doesn’t say it has solar panels on the roof or if it will have L.E.D lighting. It does not explain what the fixes will do for an environmental footprint.

  4. Hi, I am disappointed by this article, how is that making anything more greener, how is that sustainable ? Bringing larger ships ?
    Also I think this terminal is a disgrace for the waterfront. You have historical site views that are completely oblitarated by this building. People then say that there is not much historical sites in Australia…Lots of contradiction I must say.