Saturday, November 08, 2014

Council House 2: Open House Melbourne

There is a building the Melbourne's CBD that now practically pays for itself, after being a pretty ambitious endeavour to start with. A building so environmentally smart, it is taking care of it's energy levels using the sun and natural wind elements, in addition to creating a working environment for staff which is actually improving health.
The recycled timber shutters can be seen from Swanston Street, and is the fa├žade of a City of Melbourne staff building - Council House 2. The shutters are made from wood salvaged from derelict and demolished housing, and follow the sun, allowing the building to heat and cool at optimum and efficient times. Maximising daylight into the building floors, cutting on lighting costs, they shut completely on those extreme heat days.

There is no artificial air conditioning system in the building, circulating human body heat and general infection, and costing the earth. The internal air is governed by a system that reads the environment outside and acts accordingly. One of the key features is the night purge of accumulated heat from the day, when the outside air is cooler. The absence of that office air-con hum is so noticeable, and quite, that they have needed to stream white noise in, so that people can tune out of the open office space natural noise.

The tour of the building during Open House Melbourne allowed us first to hear the impressive list of features running the internal environment in the building, and the cost of the building which has now been balanced by the energy cost savings within the building since it's operation - plus the calculated costs of usually expected staff absenteeism, which has dropped significantly, in comparison to the City of Melbourne sister building down the road.

The tour also allows access to the roof, which not only affords pretty impressive views of the city around the building, but shows off the feat of energy savings. The yellow turbines, which you can also see from the street, were a design feature to assist further with the energy conservation and heating and cooling. However, as explained in our tour, the building is so efficient it doesn't need this extra - plus the energy used to turn the heavy turbines could not be justified given the efficiency of the building without it - they are now merely decorative!

The building and it's features have now earned the 6 Star Green Star rating, and is lusted after as a work place - certainly after touring it. This was a building I had often wondered about, and now am even more impressed with. Definitely worth getting along to for the next OHM for an insiders peak!

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