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September 2011

In the News

New Design Notes


EDG News is published bi-monthly by the Australian Institute of Architects ACN 000 023 012

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Home Sweet Home. Our new design notes this month include two case studies of sustainable homes, released in time for Sustainable House Day on September 11. How were they designed and, more importantly, how did they perform? (Image: iStock)

Tree of Knowledge

A recent study has shown that replacing steel and concrete with timber could quadruple the carbon sequestered in our buildings. After a century dominated by steel, timber is enjoying a renaissance. (Image: Tree of Knowledge, Brian Hooper Architect)

From the Editor


EDG News is Australia's foremost sustainable design newsletter, and this issue is as good as any we've done. But did you know that EDG News is only the tip of the iceberg? If you are in the business of designing buildings, you need EDG design notes. The Environment Design Guide's library of over 200 authoritative, peer-reviewed design notes is constantly growing, and is an invaluable source of environmental design advice.

Among the dozens of subjects covered are passive solar design, water conservation, embodied energy and materials performance, green tech and assessment tools.

Access to design notes is by subscription. If you are an A+ member of the Institute of Architects, your membership includes a subscription to EDG. Other members, and members of NZIA and GBCA, receive a 20 per cent discount, and there are generous rates for students and recent graduates.

Subscribe at www.environmentdesignguide.com.au/subs to gain access to the complete library of EDG design notes.

Michael Day

PS There were some rumours flying around about the Institute's Sustainability Award. Most of the speculation was wrong. We would like to clear up the confusion - see below.

PPS The same article that started the rumours posed some questions about EDG's reach and relevance. Well... presently EDG has around 5000 paid subscribers and 15,000 educational users. I'll leave it to you to decide if we're relevant.

New Design Notes

This month we publish three notes on sustainable design. Two notes are case studies of sustainable homes, released to coincide with Sustainable House Day, Sunday September 11.


The Mobbs-Armstrong Sustainable House, by Michael Mobbs

The Armstrong-Mobbs Sustainable House is a celebrated case study of sustainable refurbishment of an inner-city terrace house. The owners, Michael Mobbs and Heather Armstrong, went to unprecedented lengths to integrate energy and water saving systems into their Sydney residence. Their aim was not only to minimise their home's environmental footprint, but to prove that a house that significantly reduces its adverse effects on the physical environment does not have to look unusual or be operated by experts.

Go to design note

The Prasad House, by Deo Prasad

The design of the Prasad house refurbishment evolved from a fusion of the owners' commitment to green design, the needs of the occupants, and a staged experimental approach to alterations. This is not a 'cutting-edge' design, but one that balances no-cost passive solar features, low-energy appliances and the on-site generation of energy. Material reuse and recycling, and water demand minimisation, collection and reuse are part of the strategy.

Professor Prasad's house is envisaged as an ongoing experiment of thermal performance, with increasing amounts of thermal mass, insulation etc to be added progressively to optimise performance. Energy use, temperatures and humidity are measured to provide feedback on thermal comfort.

Go to design note

Perceived Comfort, by Christhina Candido

One of the primary purposes of buildings is to provide comfort for those who inhabit them. This note provides an introduction to the concept of thermal comfort and other concepts to help architects move towards more sustainable and stimulating indoor environments.

This note is currently being peer-reviewed prior to publication, when it will replace DES 12. Please check Recent Design Notes in late September.


Carbon Tax Splits Green Building Sector/Builders

The details of the Federal Government's carbon tax scheme were finally revealed in June, to the applause of the green building sector, and broadsides from the MBA and the HIA.

The HIA complained that 'at $20 per tonne, a carbon tax will add an extra $6,000 or more to the cost of building an average new residence'. An analysis of HIA (and MBA) figures by architecture blog Butterpaper, however, cast doubt on the dire predictions of the homebuilders. Minister Combet also took issue, saying that the HIA had been running two contradictory arguments: 'It claims the carbon cost of building a new house will be passed on to the consumer. But it also claims manufacturers who make the materials used for building a new house are "trade-exposed" and therefore unable to pass on those costs.'

An August 2011 report by Davis Langdon, 'Carbon Price on Construction Costs' further erodes the homebuilders' claims. The report predicts the impacts of a carbon price on construction costs will be more than manageable, concluding 'the opportunities exceed the cost implications for the property and construction industry'.

In contrast to the builders, the architectural profession is broadly supportive of a price on carbon. The consensus is that a price on carbon will open up fresh opportunities for good design, as Archicentre NSW State manager Ian Agnew explained: 'As carbon pricing will impact both on materials used and on the running costs of the home, the major area for home buyers and renovators to create a winner is at the design stage'.

In an interview with 'The Australian', Institute of Architects CEO and ASBEC Climate Change Task Group Chair David Parken said a price on carbon would help bring about better buildings: 'The way to think about this is that we can actually design buildings that are far more high performance than they used to be'.

A July paper by green building sector peak body GBCA, Putting a Price on Pollution, predicted that a carbon price would drive adaptation and innovation. A contemporaneous study, by investment manager Colonial First State, reached a similar conclusion: 'A carbon price mechanism may be a positive development for the industry, helping to future proof commercial property against further increases in electricity costs'.

The key point for all analysts, however, is that a price on carbon alone will not be sufficient to transform the sector, as David Parken wrote earlier this year: 'A substantive mix of incentives and regulation will also be required'.


Green Building: The Next Space Race

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Green Building Council of Australia

In Australia, we are witnessing the equivalent of a space race in the property and construction industry.

It began in 2003, when Lend Lease announced that it intended to construct Australia's first 5 Star Green Star - As Built project. That year, Green Star, Australia's first holistic environmental rating system for buildings, had only just been launched and the benchmarks for a 5 Star Green Star rating seemed exceedingly high.

Nevertheless, Lend Lease designed 30 The Bond to the highest environmental standards, with Australia's first widespread application of passive chilled beam technology to assist in energy reduction. The result was a building that produces around 30 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional buildings of similar dimensions at that time.

Lend Lease led the way, demonstrating that a green building could be good for both the environment and the bottom line.

In 2005, another green icon emerged: Council House 2. CH2 achieved Australia's first 6 Star Green Star - Office Design rating and was not just a demonstration of environmental efficiency, but also showed that green building design can deliver impressive productivity benefits. A post-occupancy survey of CH2 recorded a 10.9 per cent boost to productivity, with estimated annual cost savings of $2 million.

Another 'first' came in 2008, when the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre became the world's greenest convention centre with a 6 Star Green Star rating for sustainability initiatives which still remain one-of-a-kind today. These include the eye-catching facade, which towers 18 metres high and is constructed of spectrally-selective glass which reduces heat gain. The extensive solar hot water system generates around 35 per cent of the facility's general hot water requirements, while the innovative displacement ventilation system provides excellent air quality to conference delegates.

Another influential green project was also certified in 2008: the Bond University Mirvac School of Sustainable Development. The first Green Star education facility in Australia achieved a 6 Star rating and acts as a 'living laboratory' for the advancement of teaching sustainability principles and practices. Bond University set the bar for sustainable schools; today we have more than 100 green education projects either certified or registered to achieve Green Star ratings.

Also setting new benchmarks was The Summer in Fremantle, which made history as the first residential building to gain a Green Star rating in 2009. The 4 Star Green Star building features a simple solar-passive design with a focus on natural ventilation. The green design cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 88 per cent and showcases that sustainable outcomes are achievable in residential developments.

In 2010, Lot 12 TradeCoast Central was not only the first industrial project to gain a Green Star rating, but did so with a range of innovations never seen before. The project achieved a number of Green Star innovation points, for features such as the shared, precinct non-potable water storage and distribution system which reduces potable water consumption by 80 per cent - the equivalent of more than 10,000 litres a day.

And earlier this year, Flinders Medical Centre - New South Wing became Australia's first Green Star healthcare facility, providing positive proof that green healthcare facilities are affordable and achievable. Among the impressive green features, a 286 panel solar hot water system, the largest in South Australia, provides hot water across the entire campus and is expected to reduce energy costs by $400,000 per year.

Today, Green Star is certainly ascendant. While a 5 Star Green Star rating seemed unachievable in 2003, today we have more than 350 Green Star rated buildings around Australia, including almost 50 with 6 Star Green Star ratings.

Recently, Chief Executive of Australia's largest privately-owned development, funds management and construction company, Grocon, told the Australian Financial Review that it was a 'liability to have too few Green Stars'.

Daniel Grollo said: 'Unless you're building or developing commercial buildings to a 6 Green Star level, you're actually building something that's obsolete because all your competitors are already building to that standard. Every building on a serious scale is being built at a 6 Star quality - that shows the momentum within the industry.'

As with the actual space race, such evolution has only been achieved with some great leaps in thinking and technology.

It is eight years since Lend Lease announced to general scepticism its plans to build 30 Bond. Who knows where the industry will be in another eight? Eight years is how long it took between President Kennedy's announcement of the lunar program and the first moon landing. Obviously, a lot can happen in that time!

National News

Tall Timber and True

The 2011 Australian Timber Design Awards will be held on October 18, at Chapter House, Melbourne.

The Timber Design Awards are in their twelfth year, but this year there seems to be a greater than usual buzz about them, due to a number of breakthrough technologies and high-profile timber projects, as well as mounting evidence for wood's carbon sequestration potential.

Distinguished entrants for the 2011 awards include the Queensland Emergency Operations Centre, the Milson Island Indoor Sports Stadium, and Tarremah Hall by Morrison & Breytenbach Architects - winner of the Public Architecture and Sustainable Architecture Awards in the 2011 Tasmanian Architecture Awards.

Tarremah Hall
Tarremah Hall, by Morrison & Breytenbach Architects. 'The building is a carbon sink constructed of plantation-grown timbers, and the compressed mineral sheet cladding is devoid of cement.' (Tasmanian Architecture Awards jury citation; image by Ray Joyce)

Voting for the People's Choice Award closes September 23.

The future is looking up for timber buildings, with materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), which will be used in Grocon's Delta timber highrise (see EDG News 67), and Expan, an exciting new prefabricated timber framing product, making feasible the sorts of highrise timber building designs that Canadian architect Michael Green recently presented to Australian audiences.

Meanwhile a recent study, published in the journal Carbon Management, found that if builders began replacing steel and concrete with timber, the amount of carbon locked up in construction materials could be quadrupled within the next century. To give one example, the study found that replacing steel joists with engineered wood I-beams 'results in reducing the carbon footprint by almost 10 tons CO2 for every ton of wood used'.

Of course, the sustainability of the timber depends on the method of its harvesting. One recommendation from the study was to harvest trees from the forest once their speed of growth peaks. 'Forests have limited capacity to absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they age,' the study's author said, 'and there's always a chance a fire will sweep through a mature forest.'

The sustainable management of forests, backed by robust timber certification schemes, is essential to realise the environmental potential of timber building. A Greenpeace protest at Frasers Property's Central Park project in July focussed attention on the problem of illegal timber making its way into Australian buildings. Greenpeace alleged that the construction company Watpac had sourced uncertified Malaysian rainforest timber, putting at risk the project's Green Star timber credits. The GBCA's Romilly Madew responded swiftly, stating: 'Any project registered for Green Star certification wishing to comply with the Timber credit must demonstrate that the timber used in the project has been certified by either FSC or PEFC. If the project can demonstrate compliance, it will be awarded the appropriate points under the Green Star Timber credit. If it cannot demonstrate compliance, it will not.'

The 2011 Wood Solutions Seminars - for architects, engineers, developers and builders - will be held across one week in:

  • Adelaide - Monday 5 September
  • Sydney - Tuesday 6 September; and
  • Melbourne - Thursday 8 September

The seminars will feature leading International and Australasian architects and engineers speaking on topics including sustainable designs and new concepts using engineered timber. The International Keynote Speaker is renowned Passivhaus architect Hermann Kaufmann, winner of the International Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award in 2010.

Mandatory Disclosure Moves a Step Closer

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) has been holding public consultation meetings across the country as part of the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) plan to regulate disclosure of energy, greenhouse and water information in the residential sector from 2012. At present the ACT is the only State or Territory with a robust mandatory disclosure scheme. The ACT scheme has been in operation since 1999. A study of ACT house prices by DCCEE found the scheme had led to significant improvements in the ACT housing stock and raised the market value of energy-efficient houses above their less efficient counterparts.

For more information, see COAG's Residential Building Mandatory Disclosure Fact Sheet.

First Green Star Certification for Healthcare

South Australia's Flinders Medical Centre - New South Wing recently became the first healthcare facility in Australia to be certified under Green Star.

Sustainable initiatives include electrical sub-metering and BMS, displacement ventilation system and a high-efficiency chilling plant. The facility also boasts a solar hot water system which, it is estimated, will reduce recurrent energy costs by approximately $400,000 per annum.

Institute Aiming High with New Melbourne Headquarters

Corner Street

The redevelopment of 41 Exhibition Street, the Australian Institute of Architects' premises in Melbourne, is likely to commence in the next few months, with the project having secured approval from the Institute's peak representative body, the National Council.

In announcing the decision, the Institute stated the building 'will be a fundamental statement about the Institute and Australian architecture and will be exemplar in form, function and sustainability'.

The project architect Lyons has undertaken a detailed Green Star assessment through the design process, and a 5 star Green Star rating is proposed. A primary objective is for the project to achieve 'carbon neutrality', which includes a detailed Total Carbon Assessment for the life-cycle of the building.

Melbourne-based staff, including Victorian chapter office staff, will relocate to a nearby CBD office building for the duration of the project.

NABERS Extends to Six Stars

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) will be extended from 5 to 6 stars, reflecting the fact that many buildings are moving beyond established benchmarks into zero carbon and even restorative territory.

The move, by NABERS administrative body the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, was welcomed by the GBCA but criticised by the Property Council, which complained of a lack of transparency and consultation. In an interview with The Fifth Estate, Peter Verwer, Chief executive of the Property Council, said the lack of climate correction in the 6-star rating meant that an office in Brisbane would find it 2.5 times harder to achieve the rating than an office in Sydney. In response, Matthew Clark of NSW OEH acknowledged that it would be more difficult for a building in a hot climate to achieve 6 stars, but said this was not the fault of ratings tools. 'This new 6 star rating reflects the global move towards zero emissions. Up to 5 stars the rating is climate adjusted but from 5 to 6 stars it is about moving towards zero emissions. The reality is that it is harder to achieve zero emissions in hotter climates and currently technology is not addressing this. It is not so much a rating issue as a climate issue.'

Confused by NABERS, NatHERS, AccuRate, FirstRate et al? A 2009 article by Ross Maher clears up some of the confusion.

South Australia's Zero Carbon Challenge Heats Up

Five finalists are vying to create the best design for a zero-carbon house to be built at Land Management Corporation's green development Lochiel Park, in Campbelltown, South Australia. Their challenge is to design a green, three-bedroom home for a maximum cost of $300,000.

The Zero Carbon Challenge was launched in June 2011 by Land Management Corporation and the South Australian Government.

The five teams are each as a minimum made up of architects, licensed builders and a student.

South Australian Government Architect Benjamin Hewett said the design phase would create the opportunity to push the limits on the latest techniques in sustainable and affordable building. 'This is an important initiative that recognises opportunities of collaboration across skills and disciplines to achieve best-practice outcomes.'

Fat of the Land: Australian Homes World's Biggest


There seems to be no decoupling wealth and extravagance.

According to CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian, 'The average home size in the US has been shrinking in the past three years,' while Australia's has been heading in the opposite direction (214 square metres at the last count).

'Since the GFC, new homes in Australia are now about 10 per cent bigger than homes in the US,' Mr Sebastian said. He said strong wages growth and Australia's abundance of land were largely responsible.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Australian housing industry is in the thrall of Jevon's Paradox* and that, as long as resource costs remain low, energy savings from higher building standards will tend to be negated by increases in house sizes and household consumption - just as the trend towards bigger, heavier cars had tended to negate fuel savings from better engines, until fuel prices rose.

*Jevon's Paradox predicts that any technological progress in resource efficiency will tend to increase, rather than decrease, the rate of consumption of that resource.

No Plans to Axe Institute Sustainability Award

There has been some recent speculation in industry circles about the future of the Australian Institute of Architects' National Architecture Award for Sustainability, sparked by a speculative article about the award in the Fifth Estate.

To correct the record, the Institute would like to provide some background and a clear statement about the current status of the award.

The Sustainability category in the National Architecture Awards has been the subject of longstanding concerns. There have been diverse views expressed by the Institute's Awards Review Taskforce, the National Sustainability Committee and others, as to whether the award should stay or go, or whether it should be assessed in some other way.

In 2010, the Institute's National Council established a working group (SAWG) to review the conduct of the Sustainability Award. The working group comprised Paul Berkemeier (Paul Berkemeier Architects), Tristram Carfae (ARUP), Ross Clark (Institute COO), Melinda Dodson (Institute IPP), Peter Stutchbury (Peter Stutchbury Architecture) and Peter Scott (Xsquared Architects) and was chaired by Ken Maher (HASSELL).

Since the Sustainability Award was first introduced much has changed in the field of sustainable design. There is a much greater awareness in the community regarding environmental sustainability and the issue of climate change; however, there is still little understanding of the significance and value of design in addressing this challenge.

Despite the growing focus on sustainability for many projects submitted for awards, important issues remain, including:

  • The need to expand a preoccupation with metrics to the broader measures of long term value, including adaptability, endurance and the significance of beauty.
  • The need to ensure an understanding of sustainability more holistically, including environmental, economic, social and cultural dimensions.
  • The need to recognise the importance of integrated design thinking, not only at the individual building scale, but at the locality (or neighbourhood) and urban scale.

Australian architects have in many cases been international leaders in the field of designing responsive, responsible and delightful works of architecture that do 'more with less'. An opportunity exists to support, encourage and celebrate the continuation of this significant achievement.

To this end, SAWG met at the Institute's Sydney premises, Tusculum, on 3 December 2010 to discuss and recommend on the future of the Sustainable Architecture category in the National Architecture Awards program. As Peter Scott was unavailable to attend, Tone Wheeler (Environa Studio and NSC) attended on his behalf.

The participants in SAWG were keen to ensure a shift from a preoccupation with technical performance - 'green bling' - to one emphasising the value of creative and intelligent thinking to deliver enduring and meaningful environments through design.

The group discussed a wide range of options but ultimately came to the unanimous recommendation that the Sustainable Architecture Award should be retained within the National Awards Program, but that it should be redefined as follows:

  • The Sustainable Architecture award be elevated to a Named Award at a National, Chapter and, where relevant, regional level.
  • The award be discontinued as a separate entry category, and be selected by the jury from all awards entries (this may need to be by the chairs of juries for those Chapters with multiple juries).
  • The award criteria should be open ended and recognise exemplary contribution to sustainable architecture through design.
  • A preamble should be provided to guide entrants and the jury outlining the intent of the award.
  • All award entries in all categories should be required to include a brief description of the value the project has generated in each of the environmental, social and economic domains. While no detailed performance data would be required the jury could call for additional information from entrants, if required.
  • Consideration should be given to changing the composition of juries to ensure one member has detailed understanding of or experience with sustainable design.

The National Executive met in February 2011 and unanimously resolved to support the SAWG recommendation for adoption by National Council. Appropriate amendment of the Awards, Prizes and Honours policy is currently being undertaken, to reflect the approach recommended by the Sustainability Award Working Group.

This proposed policy amendment will be considered by National Council at its meeting prior to commencement of the 2012 National Architecture Awards program.

Top End Mourns Architects

Troppo NT architects Greg McNamara and Lena Yali, and fellow architect Kevin Taylor, died as a result of a collision with a fire truck in Darwin early last month. Troppo director Phil Harris escaped with minor injuries. We offer our heartfelt condolences to families, colleagues and friends.

NB: A selection of Troppo NT's award-winning designs may be viewed on the Institute of Architects awards page. The current issue (no. 16) of Sanctuary: modern green homes magazine, which went to print just prior to the accident, carries a profile of one of Troppo NT's trademark lightweight, environmentally responsive houses.

International News

Seville's Metropol Parasol Opens

Metropol Parasol
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Few recent designs have provoked as much controversy as the Metropol Parasol of Seville, a radically futuristic design which may just point the way for new directions in timber.

The creation of Berlin-based architect Jurgen Mayer H, the Parasol incorporates an archaeological museum, as well as cafes, bars and restaurants.

The building itself is four-storeys and 18,000 square metres, and incorporates a skywalk and plaza. It has a concrete and steel frame and a 'prominent' (to say the least) timber-clad façade. The façade is an open honey-comb structure, which serves to filter the harsh Mediterranean light onto the plaza.

Bridge Puts the Disco into ESD

DSSH Bridge

First prize for the Building to Building Pedestrian Bridge International Challenge was taken out by the DSSH Bridge by Spain's sanzpont [arquitectura]. The tensile skin of the bridge deforms in response to people crossing it, bringing the bridge to life. The transparent skin incorporates foldable photovoltaic panels to supply energy, with linear LED technology illuminating the structure at night. The YouTube clip of the bridge in action, complete with pumping Euro-dance soundtrack, has to be seen to be believed.

Solar Panels Shown to Increase Thermal Efficiency of Buildings

The solar industry is abuzz with the news of a study soon to be published in the journal 'Solar Energy', with what are believed to be the first peer-reviewed measurements of the cooling benefits provided by solar photovoltaic panels. Using thermal imaging, researchers determined that during the day, a building's ceiling was 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.77 degrees Celsius) cooler under solar panels than under an exposed roof. At night, the study found, the panels help hold heat in, reducing heating costs in the winter. 'Talk about positive side-effects!' said study author Jan Kleissl.

For more on the benefits of designing with photovoltaics, see EDG 68 MS, 'Building-Integrated Photovoltaics'.

Solar Decathlon to Showcase Next-Generation Designs

In the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, run every two years, 20 college teams from the US and beyond design and build energy-efficient houses powered exclusively by the sun. The winning team produces a house that:

  • is affordable, attractive, and easy to live in
  • maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions
  • supplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment
  • provides adequate hot water

Simply put, 'form follows energy'.

Student teams spend almost two years developing their designs, and the results can be inspiring. Check out Team Belgium's E-Cube: spare, stripped back, DIY, affordable and fully resolved.

The 2011 competition will be held on the National Mall, Washington D.C., from September 23 to October 2.

Passivhaus Institute Disowns Passive House US

The US chapter of the German-based Passivhaus R&D and certification body has been dropped by its parent body after evidence came to light that Passive House Institute US had been certifying Passivhaus buildings without the requisite documentation.

LEED False Advertising Claims Dismissed

Henry Gifford, an American energy efficiency professional, split the US greenbuilding community last October when he filed a class action suit that alleged the US Green Building Council had falsely claimed that its LEED rating system makes buildings save energy. Gifford claimed that buildings can receive the highest LEED ratings regardless of how much energy or water they use. Some alleged Gifford was being mischievous; others applauded him for taking a stand against greenwashing. Ultimately the US District Court in New York City sided with the USGBC, dismissing Gifford's false advertising claims 'with prejudice', meaning he would be barred from filing a new suit based on those claims.

Publications and Reports

Handbook on Condensation in Buildings

Australian designers traditionally have given little thought to the problem of moisture in buildings. Our buildings are rarely airtight and until recently had little or no insulation. However, as a result of changing occupant practices (such as closing windows to exclude external noise or retain conditioned air) and tighter building regulations, the problem is starting to receive significant attention. To address the need for information at the design stage, the Australian Institute of Architects in partnership with the ABCB and industry has produced a handbook on managing condensation in buildings.

Download a free PDF of the handbook.

See also Leaks and Seals: Avoiding Condensation Through Smart Design - a national seminar series presented by the Institute of Architects.

New Case Studies in Residential Development

Former Cable Tramway Engine House
Metaxas Architects, Former Cable Tramway Engine House, North Melbourne

The Victorian Government's Department of Planning and Community Development has released a cache of useful case studies in residential development, most of them inner-city and a number featuring infill and adaptive reuse. The Good Design Case Studies, with input from the Victorian Government Architect, give concrete examples of 'quality design solutions in established areas'.

Awards and Competitions

Australian International Design Awards

Aeratron Ceiling Fan

Presented by Good Design Australia, the 2011 Australian International Design Awards were announced last month with some worthy winners in the sustainable design, architecture and interior categories. First among equals is surely the Aeratron ceiling fan (pictured), the world's most energy-efficient fan, and the only fan able to operate silently at top speed.

US Dept. of Energy (DOE) L Prize

The DOE L Prize 'challenges lighting manufacturers to push the limits of energy efficiency' and develop a quality solid-state lighting product to replace the incandescent bulb. The 2011 winner, announced last month, is the Philips LED L Prize Lamp, a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb that could be on sale as early 2012.

DOE Reskinning Awards

More good works from DOE. We caught this comp too late for its deadline, but it's still a great idea and worth keeping an eye on, so we'll reprint our tweet:

'Reskinning awards http://reskinningawards.com/ close Aug 31. Check out LAVA's 2010 prize-winning proposal for UTS Tower http://t.co/RqcfMM8'

(Incidentally, the lesson is if you want your news served hot, don't wait for it to make the newsletter. Beat the deadline and follow EDG on Twitter.)

Events and Training

National Seminar Series

Leaks and Seals: Avoiding Condensation Through Smart Design

The drive for energy efficient buildings has led to improved air tightness and insulation, but a building still needs to breathe.

Through a combination of case studies and sound technical information, this seminar, led by Andy Russell of Proctor Group Australia, considers how design and detailing can minimise and prevent damage from condensation.

When and Where: Australia-wide, September-October
Web: www.architecture.com.au/i-cms?page=15771

Sustainable House Day

Sustainable House Day

Across Australia on Sunday September 11, over 300 homes will open their doors for one day to give visitors the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits of environmental design, products and materials. Architects and builders will be on hand at many of the homes to provide information and advice.

When: Sunday September 11
Web: www.sustainablehouseday.com

(Nb: This month's new EDG design notes include two case studies of sustainable homes.)

Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency - Melbourne

Retrofitting Logo

Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency - Melbourne will provide an opportunity for everyone involved in the retrofitting of buildings to discuss how to get the most 'bang for your retrofit buck'. Developed through extensive research with key stakeholders it is the only event born from the industry for the industry.

When: October 25-27
Where: Tenancy 15, Docklands, VIC
Web: www.retro-fitting.com.au

State Of Australian Cities (SOAC5) National Conference 2011

The State of Australian Cities is a national forum, held biennially, to share scholarship directed at the complex and multidimensional issues facing us as an urban nation.

When: 29 November to 2 December
Where: University of Melbourne
Web: http://soac2011.com.au

Building Simulation Conference 2011

The 12th bi-annual Conference of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA), will be co-hosted by IBPSA Australasia and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH). The simulation of building performance is increasingly embedded in the design process through green rating tools, regulation and as a general means of optimising design. Building Simulation 2011 will explore current best practice and new horizons for the use of simulation to drive better building design.

When: November 14 to 16
Where: University of Technology, Sydney
Web: www.bs2011.org

Retrofitting for Commercial and Environmental Sustainability

Presenters include: Michelle Spiteri, Sustainability Manager Buildcorp; Bruce Precious, Sustainability Manager The GPT Group; Alan Ashby, Associate Director Colliers International; Simon James, General Manager for Energy and Environment Solutions Honeywell, and President Energy Efficiency Council

When and Where: November 21-23, Brisbane; November 28-30, Sydney
Web: www.apo.org.au/node/25961

International Events

UAI 2011 - The 24th World Congress of Architecture

Described as the 'Olympics of Architecture', the UIA World Congress is a major international architectural event that attracts around 10,000 architects, engineers, researchers and students.

Since the inaugural World Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1948, it has taken place triennially in 23 different cities around the world.

On the theme of 'DESIGN 2050', UIA 2011 TOKYO will provide participants with opportunities to discuss the future of architecture and cities through various programs including keynote speeches, technical sessions, international competitions, workshops, exhibitions and tours.

When: 25 September to October 1
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Web: www.uia2011tokyo.com/en

World Sustainable Building Conference (SB11)

The World Sustainable Building Conference is run every three years (SB08 was held in Melbourne). It brings together the world's leading technical experts and researchers on sustainable built environments. It also summarises the results of multiple regional events in sustainable building.

When: October 18-21
Where: Helsinki, Finland
Web: www.sb11.org/sb11-helsinki


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