Amelia Milne

A Zero-Carbon Harmony

Associate — Built Environment, Aurecon; BE (Mechanical), University of Melbourne

As leader of the Aurecon team contracted for the project, Amelia Milne was instrumental in the build of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the Ian Potter Southbank Centre.

The University of Melbourne wanted to deliver a new building that would align with its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, have world-class acoustics and be completed within a fixed budget.

Making a zero-carbon ready building meant no gas connection, because the carbon intensity of natural gas remains the same over time.

And Milne’s team did not want to just offset the carbon – it wanted to eliminate it.

This all electric, zero-carbon ready conservatorium is truly future-ready.

Designing a building with no gas connection and running as 100 per cent electric, all while keeping greenhouse gas emissions low, meant addressing the most efficient way to generate hot water.

The carbon intensity of Victoria’s grid electricity is relatively high, so innovative thinking was required to keep the building’s greenhouse gas emissions low while still relying on Victorian electricity for heating.

Milne achieved this by using four-pipe air source heat pumps, which, with simultaneous heating and cooling, offered the lowest life-cycle cost.

The building use and heating and cooling profiles were analysed extensively using dynamic thermal simulation software to ensure the central plant was designed to maximise efficiency.

Using the timetable information for the building’s first year, the team could see how populations fluctuated from room to room, particularly in the large performance spaces.

This meant the requirement for simultaneous heating and cooling was likely to be frequent.

A life-cycle cost analysis was undertaken by Aurecon, which demonstrated that the proposed heat pumps and chiller provided the lowest life-cycle cost to the university for heating and cooling.

In conjunction with a rooftop photovoltaic array and the university’s renewable energy purchase power agreement, the centre is now zero-carbon ready.

Buildings are designed for a 60-year life and can be repurposed beyond that time. This all electric, zero-carbon ready conservatorium is truly future-ready.

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