Adolfo Fernandez

The energy-saving app store

Technical Director, Aurecon; BE (Mechanical), University of Zaragoza (Spain)

When organisations like the University of Melbourne make commitments to carbon neutrality, the promise comes with complex challenges.

These include reducing carbon consumption of existing and heritage buildings, funding upgrades with less tertiary education capital assistance and overcoming limited operational resources to ensure those reductions are maintained.

Aurecon Technical Director Adolfo Fernández is dedicated to achieving innovative, sustainable outcomes through deep collaboration across design and client stakeholder teams.

The project leader for Aurecon’s team undertaking the university’s Smart Campus Energy Upgrade, his key focus was looking at new ways to achieve its environmental goals.

In total, the team identified energy-saving opportunities across more than 50 buildings.

Fernández designed a program that incentivises carbon savings, provides mechanisms for buildings to self-optimise energy consumption, creates a commercial model where projects are funded by operational savings and enables a platform where researchers have a testbed for innovation.

Fernández’s team proposed a number of core initiatives that addressed each of the complex challenges. The core initiatives included lighting upgrades, solar photovoltaic generation, optimisation of mechanical systems, efficient building envelopes, digital approaches to energy management and upgrades to the university’s data centre. In total, the team identified energy-saving opportunities across more than 50 buildings.

To give the university confidence in the project, rigorous energy modelling and energy pricing estimates were required. To understand the risk of energy modelling, a process where uncertainty sources were identified, qualified and quantified was crucial to making an informed decision on the commercial viability of the project.

These were all proven technologies, but, given the university’s funding constraints, achieving the reduction relied on creating a revolving mechanism that allowed energy savings to fund the project.

The program has achieved a reduction of 3000 t of carbon dioxide, lowering the university’s power bill by approximately $500,000 per year. The team predicts savings of 25,000 t of carbon dioxide per year by 2024.

Judges’ comments:

“This is a strong project that integrates engineering,
financial modelling, and stakeholder interaction to create an energy savings program on the University of Melbourne campus. It displays strong benefits to the organisation and benefits to communities in the reduction of carbon overall.

“The project demonstrates significant environmental benefi ts and engineering innovation in digitising the variety of building systems on campus. The savings to the university are apparent and this methodology can be applied to other buildings and groups of buildings in the future.”

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