The purpose of this project was to provide a low cost, low complexity tool that can be used across the building sector and around the world to assist efforts to sustain improvements in the energy performance of existing commercial buildings and foster a productive workplace.
Efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the buildings sector have been focused on encouraging green design, construction, and building operation; however, the business case is not very compelling if considering the energy cost savings alone. In recent years green building has been driven by a sense that it will improve the productivity of occupants, something with even greater economic returns. However reducing energy demand in existing commercial buildings in an integrated way that supports an ongoing productive workplace is not yet well understood, and involves a set of complex and interdependent factors. The focus of this project was to provide a low complexity guiding framework to assist efforts to understand such factors and support efforts to undertake upgrades to existing office buildings.
The framework has been developed to focus on 5 key areas to form the ‘Energy Performance Nexus’, namely:
- The buildings’ energy-related design elements,
- The building occupants’ experience,
- The indoor environment conditions,
- The legal agreements and culture, and
- The building management systems.
In collaboration with project partners, the research team from Curtin University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) focused on assessing a range of case studies and undertaking direct data collection, across the five nodes of the ‘Energy Performance Nexus’. The investigations built on previous studies associated with the performance of green commercial buildings to investigate the inherent complexity of sustaining energy reductions in commercial buildings and to create a platform to achieve further energy performance improvement.
The final report for the project presents the findings across each of the five nodes of the ‘Energy Performance Nexus’ and explores how an understanding of their interactions provides value to industry and government. This includes: outlining a holistic approach to improving performance of existing commercial buildings; providing examples of holistic retrofits of existing commercial buildings in Australia; and presenting the ‘Energy Performance Nexus’.
Project partners include: Queensland Department of Public Works, Western Australia Department of Finance, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and John Holland, with in-kind support from the Green Building Council of Australia, Townsville City Council, and QED Environmental Services. The research team was led by Professor Peter Newman (Curtin), Charlie Hargroves (Curtin), and Dr. Cheryl Desha (QUT), and included: Samantha Hall (CUSP), David Sparks (QUT), Annie Matan (Curtin), Shol Blustein (QUT), Kuntal Dutta (Curtin), Georgina Hafteh (Curtin), Tim Davies (QUT) and Rob Salter (QUT), with advice from Professor Bill Duncan (QUT).
A series of stakeholder meetings were held along with three stake-holder workshops involving over 50 participants, in Perth, Brisbane, and Townsville. The workshops were facilitated using the ‘Community Social Learning’ methodology designed by Emeritus Professor Valerie Brown, ANU. Participants were asked to imagine their ideal green commercial building and then consider the enablers and disablers to achieving this vision. Participants then identified what could occur to enhance the enablers, and reduce the disablers, that were relevant to the research
project. Key findings included the basis for considering a wider scope than just energy performance and building management to include indoor environment quality, occupant experience, and tenant agreements.
Project 1.1 Stakeholder Engagement Report – 2011 (353 kb)
Development of a New Model
Based on the findings of the literature review and stakeholder engagement a new model was developed to consider the performance of green commercial buildings, namely ‘The Energy Performance Nexus’. This model provides a sound structure for a low cost, low complexity multivariate consideration of the complexity involved in understanding the performance of green buildings. The model has included the development of data collection and assessment methodologies for each of the five areas: energy performance of green design elements, indoor environmental quality, occupant experience (based on occupant survey), tenant/leasing agreements, and building management.
Documents for Downloading
The following documents provide additional detail regarding the research outcomes:
Project 1.1 FactSheet – 2012 (380 kb)
Project 1.1 Literature Review – 2011 (622 kb)
Project 1.1 Briefing Report – ‘Understanding the Performance of Green Commercial Buildings’ – Nov 2011 (1.11 Mb)
Project 1.1 Breifing Report: ‘Commercial Leases: A legal instrument to deliver higher productivity of green commercial buildings’ (195 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 60 Leicester Street, Carlton, Victoria (141 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 115 Batman Street, West Melbourne, Victoria (123 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 182 Chapel Street, North Melbourne, Victoria (315 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 500 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria (321 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 187 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane, Queensland (145 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 201 Charlotte Street, Brisbane, Queensland (145 kb)
Project 1.1 Case Study – 250 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia (94 kb)
Academic Publications and Presentations
Hall, S., Sparks, D., Hargroves, K., Desha, C., and Newman, P. (2013) “The developmeent of a simple multi-nodal tool to identify performance issues in existing commercial buildings” CIB World Building Congress, 5-9 May 2013, Brisbane, Australia
See also related CIB WBC Presentation (1.3 Mb)
Hargroves, K., Hall, S., Desha, C., Sparks, D., and Newman, P. (2012) “The Energy Performance Nexus – A framework for improving energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings by considering a whole-of-building approach” Healthy Buildings 2012 – 10th International Conferencce of The International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ), Jul 8-12 2012. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland University of Technology.
See also related Healthy Buildings Presentation – The Performance Nexus (600 kb)
Hall, S. (2012) “An inquiry into stimulating city-wide improvements in energy efficiency performance, in existing commercial buildings” Healthy Buildings 2012 – 10th International Conference of The International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ), Jul 8-12 2012, Brisbane, Australia: Queensland University of Technology.