Green Star Is Dead, Long Live Carbon Neutral

Green Is Dead, Long Live Carbon Neutral

This post discusses if Green Star is holding us back.

What is Green Star?

Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings and communities.

The Green Star rating tools assess building or community projects against a number of categories. These categories allow for a determination to made on the environmental impact of a project’s site selection, design, construction,  maintenance etc. The nine categories included within the various Green Star – Design and Green Star – As Built rating tools are:

  • Management
  • Indoor Environment Quality
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Land Use & Ecology
  • Emissions
  • Innovation

 

So completing Green Star, will get us a number of points. More points mean a better star rating.

Green Star has been fantastic for our industry and is to be commended. But it’s now reached a point where it’s just another tick box in the delivery of a new building. This however is not my concern.

Is Green Star Holding Us Back?

My concern, in the context of real global warming issues, is that Green Star is providing a false sense of security to our industry. I’m saving the planet, ‘My Buildings got 5 stars’.

Green Star has got us started and got the industry up to speed with understanding environmental issues. If we stick with Green Star, we are doomed.

As a minor point, there a few initiatives in Green Star, in a warming planet, that are counter intuitive and will need to be changed.

In Green Stars defence they are onto this subject. See link: http://www.gbca.org.au/resources/fact-sheets/the-2020-challenge-carbon-neutral-buildings/

Carbon Neutral

Cutting to the chase, we should be building carbon neutral buildings. Full stop. It’s doable and is being done.

Often, a slight of hand occurs, in that a building may not be 100% carbon neutral on day one, but has a calculated carbon payback period.

How’s it done?

Every item of the build (including site works during construction) has its carbon content calculated. The total carbon is then off set with the use of recycled materials etc.

Finally the energy used to run the building is sourced from low carbon sources. This low carbon fuel as compared to gas or coal fired electricity provides a carbon credit, which is used to pay off the carbon debt of the building.

 

Low Carbon Fuels

Low carbon fuels are readily available and include:

  • Solar – electricity
  • Solar – Heat for hot water
  • Wind – for electricity
  • Liquid Bio fuels, from end of process sources
  • Geo-thermal

Lost Opportunity

The new Casino, in Sydney, is a lost opportunity. A building of this scale and usage would have significant waste which can be used to provide the buildings power supplies including:

  • Cooking oils and fats used in liquid bio fuel Tri generation system
  • Food scraps and the like used to make methane to power gas fired Tri Generation Systems.

I’d like to see new major buildings or building complexes have a carbon neutral requirement as part of any DA.

Issues

A significant commitment is required from all involved in the design of carbon neutral buildings. There will be a cost impost for this.

Use of new technology has its issues. I’m aware of a few projects utilising solid waste to create syngas, which has not gone well. This said I have personally been involved with many successful liquid bio fuel projects.

Further Reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_carbon_building

http://www.hydrocarbons21.com/articles/natural_refrigeration_helps_retailers_achieve_carbon_neutrality_and_save_millions

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 17/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

Thermal Piles (There not painful)

Thermal Piles

This post discusses the often forgotten opportunity of incorporating thermal piles into your project.

‘Thermal piles’, you could use the term thermo-active foundations, if you prefer.

What Am I on about?

You need to dig a big hole as part of your development. This needs a piling rig and lots and lots of piles. Insert a reo cage, pore some concrete and finish up with a capping beam. Hey presto a piled retaining wall.

Piling

What opportunity did we miss?

Insert a plastic pipe in each pile and you’ve just removed the cooling towers from your project!

Piling with tube

How it works

Simple. You have just created a massive heat exchanger in the ground. You haven’t had to hire in a bore hole drilling rig. That came free of charge with the piling rig.

Hot water that normally went to a cooling tower to have the heat removed, with typical water temperatures at 29.5 oC and 35 oC, is now sent to the piles. So we have a heat exchanger maximum temperature difference of 35 to 17 oC (18 oC difference). This is great.

Heat_piles_hres

Ideally you would have the pile completely surrounded by earth (central structural pile). With edge piling you will have an exposed side. All good. This is taken into account and the number of piles with tubes in adjusted. If, as is typical you are building a dry wall in front of the piles, add air movement (as you would d in a car park exhaust system, from example) and you’ve just created another improvement to your ‘natural heat rejection system’.

The Detail

You need to consider:

  • Ground conditions for thermal sizing of tubes
  • Consideration of the concrete in the piles is required, for good thermal heat exchange. Thermally enhanced concrete means less tubes and is definitely recommended.
  • Excess tubes should be allowed in case of breakage and as a general safety.
  • You will need sign off from your structural engineer. My reading of the literature is the plastic tubes will have almost an irrelevant effect.
  • Dependant on the no. of piles you can achieve and given ground conditions will determine if you can do all of your cooling or heating or just base loads, with supplementary towers for peak loads.
  • Piles, driven, into the ground are obviously not up for consideration. Pile cages, pipes attached and concrete poured in after cage insertion is a preferred choice.

 Further Reading

As ever, the school of Google is a great source for all you will need on this subject.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 15/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

It’s Complicated (The Green Thing)

It’s Complicated (The Green Thing)

This post discusses in layman’s terms Global Warming. Always a vex topic and I’m hoping I’ll start some healthy blog responses.

Humans – Can We Believe in Global Warming?

We are all different. Our ability to believe anything is a mixture of hard wiring, how we’ve been nurtured during our child hood, our working experiences and what we need to believe (to fit in to our social or work life).

So you can talk all day about the science of global warming and you might be right, but that only ticks a % box in an individual’s decision matrix.

Further the science of global warming whilst many say is settled, just isn’t.  So a rational decision based on science cant be made.

If Global Warming is occurring and all the predictions are true  a slow creep to extinction is occurring.   However to most of us  its not real yet. The human decision matrix hasn’t got to; let’s say, to a required 60% certainty  level. It will take natural world wide event(s) to get to ‘oh we need to do something moment…it is real’.

At a corporate level (and this is where most of us are, plying our skills and trades in the construction industry) there’s another level of thought process. Decisions are made on financial models, with the aim of growth or profit.

Summary: Generally, ‘head in the sand’ prevails, mixed with ‘there’s enough market out there to make some money’ or ‘I think people will like us more if we are a bit greener’.

From a simple cause and effect basis, I haven’t seen sea levels rise in Sydney Harbour yet.

ACADS BSG (local weather data provider for Australia) has recently updated their temperature files….they have not seen any temperature rises (the opposite).

What Can Be Done?

Again, lots of ‘science’ is out there. Some positive (we can fix things) and some negative (it’s too late). Some saying CO2 level increase is actually a good thing.

Negative View

  • The planets systems are to complex and massive
  • It’s a cyclic event in our planets history, it can’t be stopped
  • Stopping or reducing CO2 levels is a waste of time.

Many use the analogy of the massive ball rolling down a hill. It’s too late, the ball has started moving and we can’t stop it. At best we might deflect it a few, years.

It is interesting to hear our worldwide leaders already planning for a 2+ oC temperature rise…’read my lips’,  global warming can’t be stopped in their opinion, for at least, this first big temperature increase.

ball_hill

 

 

 

 

Positive View

The positive view comes down to believing global warming is due to man-made CO2 and if we can stop this, our planet will be able to recover. It assumes our best scientists know how the planets systems work and interact and their modelling is infallible. My experience with modelling is ‘rubbish in rubbish out’.

So, where are we at?

We have reached a status quo. Believers, non-believers and those who haven’t decided. Much of the undecided may well be down to the complexity of the data out there. It’s a hard slog to read it.

Our government (Australia) appears (at 2015) to not believe in global warming, but is providing some funding for greening.

There is still no massive climate events happening and weather data now appears to show we are in a cooling period.

Our industry, ran head long into the Green movement (getting star rated buildings everywhere), the industry wanted to pay for it (saw a marketing potential). That rush is now over. Many in the industry have ended up disillusioned with ‘green’ and its cost (to some extent) and its compliance requirements (to a large extent). I’ve been made aware of a lot of ‘green infrastructure’, now sitting idle. Was this infrastructure installed simply to get ‘green points’?

[See my previous posts about green points. For me it’s about reducing energy consumption and getting lower bills an dyes this removes CO2].

In typical human decision making process when you are unsure we get a compromise :

The compromise: We undertake CO2 reduction in a manner the nation can afford. (This is where the Australian government is presently at)…. you could be cynical and say this is to keep both sets of voters on board.

What will happen, however, due to politics, is that we will flip (with each government) to ‘Spend to save the planet’, to ‘we are in debt and the country’s going down the gurgler’.

For now, we will go with the compromise:

  • we will keep complying with the BCA (Building Code of Australia)
  • where mandated we will use the various rating schemes
  • where a marketing potential exists we will again use the various rating schemes.
  • industry suppliers will continue to improve their equipment efficiencies and we will reward them with sales.
  • New technology will be found to create electricity without CO2 emissions

Where I’m at?

Global Warming: I’m still undecided (or is that head in the sand), but leaning towards a naysayer. I’m struggling with the belief that man-made CO2 is the only reason for the alleged warming and that stopping CO2 emissions will stop the warming. Don’t forget we are now allegedly in a temporary a cooling period.

The real elephant in the room, on this subject, is population growth. Australia’s population growth I understand is at c.400,000 per year (a new Canberra to be built each and every year). This is horrifying and the physical impacts are huge.

Energy Reduction: Being practically minded I’d like to see the following:

  • BCA efficiency increase for plant and systems
  • BCA Fabric thermal performance increase
  • BCA mandated leak tests for new buildings
  • BCA mandated maximum watts per square for lighting and equipment
  • Industry standards being changed to mandate minimum and maximum room temperatures (lower in winter and higher in summer. Try 18 oC and 25 to 27 oC).
  • A reduction in fresh air supply rates for occupants, in air conditioned spaces.

With the above points I’d like to see an agreed ‘bar raising’, year on year. These simple points will do as much, or more than any rating systems to save energy (thus CO2). It will also give manufacturers, and the like, a clear instruction to get innovating. If we accept a 2 oC temperature rise is correct, we should be designing (preparing) for this now.

The little extra for me would include:

  • More money (with payback on sales) for new technology – to the private sector
  • More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with CO2 and energy reduction
  • More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with alternative forms of energy creation.

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21625861-lockheed-martin-thinks-it-can-make-fusion-power-reality-within-decade-big-bet-small

  • Tax free status for approved research and company development associated with CO2 and energy reduction.
  • Mandated 100% use of renewable fuels (fuels that can be grown). Obviously this comes with some practical issues to be resolved.

See link to funds an grants: : http://www.business.gov.au/grants-and-assistance/grant-finder/Pages/Search.aspx?collection=business-gov-au&profile=grant&search_type=grant&query=Energy

What Impact Can we have?

This is annoying. In our industry we can only impact global energy consumption and global CO2 in a small way.

The following link is a great source on our impact on the Construction industry. The link states “Construction produced 7.1% of total indirect greenhouse gas emissions in 1994-95”.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article282003?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2003&num=&view=

So are best efforts will not eliminate all the 7.1% and on a world basis anything we do will have negligible to zero impact…add in population growth and we can rightly start to feel useless.

Further Reading

This post has not gone into the detail or science of global warming from the various points of view. The web is chock-a-block with it. I recommend you get googling. Some great sites I’ve looked at are:

http://www.geosociety.org/positions/position10.htm

http://www.thegwpf.org/geological-perspective-global-warming-debate-continues/

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Geologists-climate-change-denial.html

Author: Jorgen Knox

Last Updated: 10/08/2015

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

ICA Role. Is this a Duplication of Resources?

Independent Commissioning Agent (ICA)

Green Star, among other ratings schemes offers points for the employ of an ICA. (Refer to Green Star documentation for details).

Here we go again, another ‘get out jail’ for the designer. Don’t get me wrong any commissioning and building tuning is greatly supported, by me.

Where did commissioning in design go? When did it go? Why did it go?

Multiple reasons I’m sure including:

  • Low Fees (must do a wordage search on how many times I see those words)
  • Buildings Built for Sale and not long term operation and ownership
  • Construction management style of building delivery
  • Loss of skills base (good engineers leaving the industry).

Note: Commissioning is not just commissioning the systems to work. It also should include building tuning. This will require the commissioning period to be extended into the defects liability or warranty period, and beyond, if required. The warranty period should become a period of tuning and checking to ensure that the systems are performing at their optimum efficiency during all climatic variations for the occupied building.

Designers Role

It’s absolutely the design engineers role to detail how the commissioning is to be undertaken, what and how it’s to be commissioned and incorporate in their designs  the; valves; dampers; straight lengths of ducts, meters, indication lights and everything else needed.

The designer documents should detail who can commission the systems, the qualifications and necessary experience required. This is, in many ways, a self-preservation act i.e. you need a good commissioning contractor to make your life easy.

It is not the designer’s role to actually commission any systems or set up a commissioning program and the like. However the consultant is responsible for reviewing said documents and final witnessing approval.

Client Role or Clients Representative Role

Clear instruction should be provided when seeking consultant fees. Note: Commissioning should be done regardless of Green Star points and sufficient time to commission should be allowed for in the building program.

Example Scope:

Provide integrated design and commissioning documents to enable the works to be tendered for complete installation and commissioning and building tuning.

Commissioning Works to include:

  • Description of each system to be commissioned
  • Detailed functional description, including full load, low load and partial load operational requirements.
  • BMS points list
  • For each system provide pre commissioning tests and commissioning tests required.
  • For each system detail the commissioning results to be achieved.
  • Include in the design all items required to be able to commissioning the system including:
    • Pitot traverse points
    • Valves
    • Dampers
    • Sensors
    • Gauges, Immersion Sensors, Test Points, Dosing pots etc.
  • Specify the requirements of the commissioning contractor including:
    • NEBB qualifications
    • Previous successfully commissioned similar buildings
    • Staff and staff experience
    • Commissioning program
    • Commissioning test reports

 Summary

Commissioning and Building Tuning is always required and should be allowed for, regardless of Green Star points.

The designer and in particular the mechanical designer should document the commissioning requirements for the project.

An interesting overlap occurs between the designer and the ICA, if appointed for Green star points.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 12/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

Not ESD Savvy – 5 Stars is still within reach

Simple Ways to Save Energy

This post discusses simple ways to save energy. It is expected this post will be updated regularly.

Also see ‘Natural AHU’ Post

You don’t need to be ESD Savvy

So how do we consume energy?

  • Lighting to see
  • Electrons for power
  • Cooling and Heating to feel comfortable and air to breath
  • Hot Water
  • Etc

 

 Commercial Sector Buildings Energy End Use (2006)
Commercial Sector Buildings Energy End Use (2006)

Source: DOE, 2008 Buildings Energy Data Book, Section 3.1.4, 2008.
Note: This pie chart uses an adjustment factor (*) used by the EIA to reconcile two datasets.

STEP 1: Stop Energy Loads, At Source, including:

  • Lighting
  • Cooling
  • Heating
  • Hot Water

STEP 2: Make Systems as Efficient As Possible:

  • Lighting
  • Cooling
  • Heating
  • Hot Water

STEP 1: Stop Energy At Source

Lighting to See

  • Use Natural Light
  • Get rid of the concept of providing high levels of lighting everywhere. Provide desk lighting with individual user on/off control (with LED bulbs).
  • Use LED Lights (no excuses, technology and pricing is here)
  • Turn those lights off. LED lighting can come with individual sensors. If a room is unoccupied, the lights go off.
  • Zone your lighting to take account of natural day light
  • Use light colours

Cooling

Step 1: Stop the heat coming in. As a minimum comply with the BCA.

  • Think about operable blinds
  • Use great glazing
  • Insulation
  • And Insulation. Get real and check the Actual U values (Thermal Bridging).
  • Seal the Building. And get it checked…air pressure test.

Infiltration especially in older building is a big issue.

LOAD EXAMPLE:

An office of say 1500 m2 and 2.8 m high

Poor façade: infiltration at 0.5 ac/hour: Cooling load: 8 kW each hour (of additional cooling).

Better façade: infiltration at 0.2 ac/hour: 3.4 kW each hour (of additional cooling).

  • Use low energy consuming equipment

Step 2: reduce your outside air supply  & temperature.

  • Monitor the air quality and reduce outside air (CO2 monitoring).

I’m modern offices, home working and hot desking is the norm. Thus on any given day the number of occupants (driving outside air requirements) is less than design (typically 1 person per 10 square meters). BUT the plant continues to deliver design outside air.

At certain times of the year the office occupancy is down to a skeleton crew…BUT the plant continues to deliver design outside air.

  • Have smaller zones. If no occupants turn off the outside air
  • Pre cool the outside air with:
    •               Room air, already cooled
    •               Thermal labyrinths
    •               A water feature
    •               Air intake from shaded location

Step 3: Increase the room air temperature. What’s wrong with 27 oC instead of 24 oC?

Step 4: Just like lighting, who says a whole floor needs to be at a constant uniform temperature.

Also, using those LED occupancy sensors that come with those LED lights, turn off AC to areas that are not occupied.

  • Consider communal open plan areas at 27o
  • Consider a small fan for each user on their desk.
  • Consider a high velocity VAV cold air duct system to provide localised spot cooling.

Heating   

Step 1: Stop the heat getting out. As a minimum comply with the BCA.

  • Think about operable blinds (let sunlight (heat in)
  • Consider the glazing type
  • Insulation
  • And Insulation. Get real and check the Actual U values (Thermal Bridging).
  • Seal the Building. And get it checked…air pressure test.
  • Pre heat hot water from waste or solar sources.

Step 2: reduce your outside air supply temperature.

  • Monitor the air quality and reduce outside air.
  • Have smaller zones. If no occupants turn off the outside air
  • Pre heat the outside air with:

Room air already heated

Thermal labyrinths (SOL Air)

Air intake from a sunny location

Step 3: Decrease the room air temperature. What’s wrong with 19 oC instead of 24 oC?

Step 4: Just like lighting, who says a whole floor needs to be at a constant uniform temperature.

  • Consider communal open plan areas at 19o
  • Consider a high velocity VAV warm air duct system to provide localised spot cooling.

Step 5: Temperature Drift (End of Day)

At the end of the day, let the room temperature drift upwards, allowing a larger buffer, so in the morning the space needs less energy input to get back up to temperature.

Hot Water (Not Drinking Hot Water)

  • Limit the amount of hot water you need
  • Lower water temperatures (avoid heating up to only blend down)
  • Pre heat mains cold water with the sun
  • Heat hot water with the sun
  • Limit pipe lengths to avoid long warm up delays
  • Turn off those zip heaters

 

All the above are simple ideas and any engineer can incorporate into a design. Get these right and you’re on the way to a 5 star building.

STEP 2: Efficiency Improvers

Add some more of the following efficiency measures, and things only get better:

  • Don’t use electricity for chillers.

Got roof space? If yes consider evacuated solar tubes (Other collectors available). These systems will heat water to the required temperature (c. 95 oC) to use in absorption chillers.

Thermax Hot Water Absorption Chillers

hot-water-driven-chillers-img[1]

Solar Cooling (Simplified Schematic)

solar-based-cooling[1]

  • Efficient  Chillers  (HIGH COP’s)

If you have to use electric chillers then use the best available (Highest COP). Don’t forget this is where you should spend your money…this is the biggest energy consumer in your building…the backbone of your HVAC system.

Chiller Efficency

Consider chillers that use:

  • Permanent magnet motor
  • Active magnetic bearings
  • Oil free system

 

  • Efficient Chiller System Design (Pipework)

Consider non traditional pipework system to increase chiller efficiency, such as Series Counter-flow.

Series Counter Flow Chillers

Series Counter Flow ChillersTraditionally large central plant chillers have been connected in a ‘parallel’ pipework system. Each chiller receives the same condenser water temperature &chilled water return water temperature and cools and delivers chilled water at the desired temperature. Each chiller does the same ‘work’.

the two chillers in the diagram above, are acting as a two-stage chiller, sharing the waterside lift and resulting in lower lift for each chiller compared to parallel piping and is thus more efficient. Thus overall the system efficiency is increased.

Note: Series counter flow adoption is not always the best option. Factors such  as climatic conditions, building cooling load
profile, the use of economy cycles, airside system design and utilisation schedule all play a part in determining the viability of this pipework arrangement.

  • Adiabatic cooling. This is using wet bulb free cooling (water sprays)
  • Economy cycles. Using cooler air than inside air t do the cooling for you.
  • Night Purge/Building Flushing
  •  Smaller Thermal Zones

The smaller the thermal zone the less over supply of air will occur to a floor. PCA Premium grade buildings typically use 80m2 zone sizes for perimeter areas and 120 m2 for interior zones, with each zone having 1 VAV box controlling air to that zone.

Imagine each diffuser sensing the temperature of the air local to itself and modulating the air supplied. Air flow to the floor will be reduced (less fan power) and better thermal comfort will be achieved.

Rickard diffusers, by Fantech, are a provider of such motorised VAV diffusers (youtube link).

 

  • Use on floor plant (reduces fan power, responds to floor temperatures, not common or averaged temperatures)
  • Slower heat up/cool down times (so what if you’re not at exactly the right temperature for an extra half hour a day.
  • High Efficiency Chillers, pumps, fans and the like
  • Turning of your chillers at peak electrical demand and let your pipework provide free cooling (big heat sink)
  • Using tight shut off dampers on plant not in use
  • Low resistance ductwork and pipework (fan and pump power)
  • Right Sizing of plant so it runs at peak efficiency for most of a year
  • Variable speed everything
  • Simple and Robust controls with reporting. Provide an energy dashboard for all tenants to view
  • COMMISSIONING AND PROVING

Most high star rated buildings achieve their stars from the simple initiatives above. For me star ratings don’t mean much (all sorts of bizarre points available)…your aiming for low utility bills and low CO2 …..NABERS Star Rating.

Looking at it the other way…WHY don’t all commercial buildings achieve 5 stars?

  • Poor façade
  • Inefficient Lights
  • Low COP plant used including step control of compressors (now NCC requirement for plant exceeding min cooling load)
  • Poor thermal zoning of air handling plant including combining zones
  • In ability to turn down systems on reduced load
  • Poor controls and control sensors out of calibration
  • Stuck dampers allowing in too much outside air
  • High supply air temperatures used (increasing fan power)
  • Humidity control systems causing over cooling and re heating
  • No economy cycle provided (now NCC requirement for plant exceeding min cooling load)
  • Plant and systems oversizing

Author: Jorgen Knox

Last Up-dated: 4/03/2016

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

D & C versus Full Design

Full Design or D&C?

This post discusses D&C vs Full documentation.

Should I fully document a project or go D&C?  

This question is normally answered by the Architect or the Project Manager at the very outset of a project. This is a fundamental decision point. The rest of the team have no input, indeed the project, or potential project is very often still under wraps.

If you’re going D&C, then the team should be involving D&C (design and construct) contractors (Builder, HVAC, Elec, Hydraulic and so on contractors) from the start.

If this is too hard (D&C contractors involved early), then your heading for the Full Design approach with usual consultant input or the half-way house, where the team (including Architect and Consultants), get the project to say 30% and then start the D&C process (The hope is that the 30% work is not abortive).

Basically it comes down to hard dollars (again) and trust. The hard dollars (will I get a cheaper price if I fully document and go to competitive tender) and the trust (can I trust a D&C contractor not to rip me off).

My Views

I’ve been asked this question so many times over the years (D&C vs Full documentation).

There is no clear best way to document a project. It always comes down to the individuals, either on the consulting team or the D&C team. See also my post on competitions.

I have seen a trend towards the D&C approach.

The typical pros are:

  • It’s cheaper (cuts out the consultant)
  • Full responsibility lies with the contractor and it was always going to.

The typical conns are:

  • A perception you will be ripped off
  • D&C design isn’t as good.
  • Full documentation means there are ‘no variations’.
  • The building may be too far down the track when the D&C contractor is appointed.

Are Consultants Creating the D&C approach?

My call is yes. There is a definite move to providing less in consultant documentation. Two classic examples are shown below.

E.g. 1: Its easier (Time wise, PI insurance etc) to not show balancing dampers on a drawing or commissioning valves and so on. Just put a note on the drawing or in the specification and let the contractor work it out.

Eg. 2: Co-ordination, will it fit? Let the contractor work it out attitude often pervades.

So, if the consultant is providing a concept design and in reality a schematic layout, you can see why industry groups think “I might as well just use the contractor”.

In the consultants defence a client fees may be so low, that all you can do is dust off the last similar project and regurgitate it.

If you’re a services contractor

If you’re a contractor with the willingness to employ great staff and undertake projects in a fair and reasonable manner, then absolutely the opportunity to excel and win work without consultant input is there.

Main D&C Contractors

The large and good D&C contractors are generally forgotten in the process. They are often frustrated having to tender on documentation, which is consultant derived and can be considered useless. Wrong Concept employed, not representing best value to the client, un coordinated drawings (that just can’t work) etc are the comments you hear on that side of the fence.

What Should Consultants Be Doing

I’ve been a consultant for most of my career, so forgive me for my slight bias.

A consultant should be offering more than great drawings.  And clients should be using consultants to do more than just ‘great drawings’.

What a consultant should be doing:

  • Ascertaining what the client wants
  • Ascertain what the Architect wants
  • Ascertain what the site will allow
  • Review the world wide market and report to the team the options available, with life expectancy, power and water consumption etc. (LCC). So the client can make the best and most informed decision.
  • Concept design, spatial planning
  • Setting minimum standards.

Summary: Providing the smarts

At this point the consultant can be moved to a watching brief role or if they have the skill set move to a ‘documentation consulting’ role. For the Architects reading, this is all similar to the ‘Concept Architect’ and ‘Documenting Architect’ roles.

If a consultant provides all the services above in a watered-down fashion (due to low fees shall we say), they will not be thanked and push more work the D&C route.

Summary

I’ve sat on the fence a bit on this one, but hopefully covered off the main topic items. I have not covered PI insurance on purpose. Your feedback and experiences would be appreciated…write a comment.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 12/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

Residential Corridors and Gas Meter Cupboards

Gas Meter Ventilation – Residential Buildings

This post discusses the need to provide ventilation to meter cupboards, in residential, non fire escape corridors.

Gas meters are, of late, finding themselves in corridor cupboards.

The Gas Code (now AS 5601) requires these enclosures to be ventilated. The Gas code provides guidance on this.

There is some apparent confusion as to whether the corridor needs to provide sufficient ventilation, to in turn ventilate the gas meter cupboard.

My reading of the code is that the corridor must also be ventilated in accordance with the gas code. This can be by permanent natural openings to outside (see adjoining room requirements in the Gas Code) or the meter cupboard can be ventilated via mechanical means….duct and fan.

Note: it is my understanding the air pressure in the gas cupboard should be neutral or negative. This is to prevent gas being ‘pushed’ into any adjoining spaces.

Not providing ventilation may allow gas to build up in a corridor with a ‘poor outcome’ and obviously contravene the Gas Safety Act.

What to Do?

Speak with your projects Hydraulic Consultant. If they are proposing no ventilation, or ventilation to another space, which in turn is not ventilated, get this in writing and also get this backed up, again in writing, by the gas supplier/authority (Jemena).

A cupboard on an outside wall can be ventilated direct to outside…look to get this on your project.

Qualification

The above is my personal opinion and must not be used on any project. Seek your project consultants’ expert advice.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 11/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI