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Adelaide research facility LEEDs the way

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. Image: Woods Bagot

By Cameron Jewell

28 November 2013 — The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, a stunning new building in Adelaide on track to become the first LEED Gold rated laboratory in Australia, will be officially opened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at an event on Friday [29 November].

The 25,000 square metre SAHMRI has been designed by architects Woods Bagot, with builders Hindmarsh, structure design by Aurecon, LEED and BCA modelling by NDY, services design by NDY and Aurecon, ESD and LEED consultant Cundall, façade environmental consultants Atelier 10 and lab design by RFD.

It is a $200 million federally funded bio-research facility that features nine research modules housing up to 700 researchers looking at ways to foster innovation and improvements in health services.

Woods Bagot said the US Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system was chosen so the building could be benchmarked against an international rating system. However, some industry practioners say LEED is favoured in some research and medical facilities because it can attract global talent familiar with the rating.

Image by Peter Barnes

The building has been affectionately referred to as the “pinecone” or “blue tongue” due to its striking facade, which features triangular glazed and fritted windows in a “dia-grid” pattern designed for optimal energy performance.

The hood shade of each window is a different size and is dependent on the window’s sun exposure. Solar modelling was performed by Woods Bagot in conjunction with consultants Atelier 10 to optimise passive solar performance.

Image courtesy of Woods Bagot

Jeffrey Holmes, principal at Woods Bagot, said the facade was “developed to become a living organism that adapts to its environment by the design of the sun shades responding to their location and orientation to provide the most efficient protection from the sun and heat”.

He said the design would “improve daylight, reduce heat and glare and maintain vision for a healthy internal environment”.

“The SAHMRI project is committed to a high level of ecologically sustainable development within the construction and operation of the new facility,” said Mr Holmes.

“The project is on target to achieve a LEED Gold rating, the first for a laboratory building in Australia.”

The building management system has been provided by Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure technology, which will integrate the building’s heating and cooling systems, ventilation, lighting, power, security systems and laboratory controls – and has been designed to improve energy efficiency. It’s the first health research facility to use the technology in Australia.

Image courtesy of Woods Bagot

Key sustainability features of the building include:

  • passive building design, using orientation, shading, facade design and thermal mass to minimise the use of energy to condition the building
  • an energy efficient HVAC system, which provide a comfortable indoor environment to each work zone, with high levels of outdoor air supply
  • energy efficient design throughout the building, allowing it to perform 10 per cent better than current code standards
  • water efficient design, including rainwater harvesting, reuse of process water from reverse osmosis plant and connection to GAP water, leading to no potable water use in cooling towers or toilets
  • an intelligent metering system, which will provide real time data on energy and water consumption, allowing facility managers to identify issues and adjust operations to minimise resource consumption
  • detailed commissioning of all building services, which will allow the building to be tuned over its first year of operation to ensure the facility is efficient in its ongoing operation
  • a sustainable procurement policy, to ensure all equipment, furnishings and finishes are selected with due consideration to their environmental credentials
  • minimised carparking, and excellent linkages with public transport and close proximity to city centre amenities
  • minimised urban heat island effect through landscaping and public plaza space
  • a site specific environmental management plan for construction, with a waste recycling target of 80 per cent

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