This morning as I got on the train to head to HubMelbourne‘s Coworking in the Lane, I met Ian Gardner of Wood and Grieve.  I’m so pleased. We only spoke for 3 stops but gee it was interesting.

He’s working on a building just around the corner from my house.  A building I watch and regularly fume at because they’ve left the lights on, again!  But they have a call centre on the top two floors – so it’s reasonable that they are operating then.  I’ll stop fuming about that.

I shouldn’t stop fuming about the poor design he also talked about.  That building was finished about 4 years ago, but its only 3 stars NABERS, despite being designed for 41/2 stars.  He described it as a building that was reasonably designed initially, but let down through the standard construction management process.  The facade looks promising, with good shading and reasonable glass – I guess we can thank BCA Section J for that.  But Ian says it’s very leaky and takes 2 hours at 100% to get the building warm on winter mornings.

Where does the council’s sustainable design assessment process fit with that – how do we make sure that the reasonably sustainable building that was designed, is the one that gets built?

Also, the mechanical services design is a VRF system.  It’s a pretty common low cost system and should be pretty good at managing the zoning in the building, to operate only when heating or cooling is needed in a particular zone.  But if you select a unit that’s too big you end up using a lot of fan power that isn’t necessary.

And here’s the bit that intrigued me.  Ian commented that the increased cost of refrigerants means that systems like this are unlikely to be installed in future.  On the other hand, I know that the governnment’s plan for the repeal of the carbon tax, has been discussed extensively on the Airah LinkedIn discussion group.  I wonder if that will change things again?  Based on the comments from others in the industry, they’re not keen to see the refrigerant issue go backwards – I hope they don’t.