"Buildings like trees, cities like forests." When Michael McDonough, author and sustainability architect, suggested this be the new paradigm for the future, he was referring to the creation of buildings and communities that are self-sufficient. He also reminds us that "waste is a human phenomenon", so the concept of recycling and efficiency is central to the attainment of environmental stewardship. Through integration, energy management, efficiency techniques and technologies it is now possible to create buildings that are 'greener' and more ecologically synergistic than ever before.

Solar Cities Proposition

Paul Lyons

The Midland Atelier presents an exciting opportunity to harness the latest developments in energy and herald the dawn of a new era in sustainability. Uniquely positioned in the heart of Midland this iconic building perfectly embodies the rich blend of heritage with the potential of a cleaner future. 
Where students and artists congregate, the former Midland Railway Workshops will become an educational hub and home to a Creative Industries Precinct. As a centre of learning and expression the building it self, symbolises the spirit of pioneering development with extended benefits to the occupants and community at large.
Building Dashboard
Overall Approach
This proposal intends to outline all the different energy components of the building and how they culminate in a holistic solution that will render the outcome sustainable and potentially self-sufficient. By installing renewable energy sources, controlling the buildings electrical systems and interacting with the occupants it is now possible to create an optimised energy environment. 
  • With energy production as with consumption, it is important to make the whole process as visible as possible…as well as influencing behaviour. Savings have been shown in the region of 5-15%... (Environmental Change Inst., Oxford University)
The installation of solar panels, rather than being the panacea to reducing carbon footprint, should be considered part of a greater energy infrastructure. Such a system is a dynamic relationship between energy produced, energy consumed, occupants, seasonal and daily changes.  It is this relationship that effectively managed can produce dramatic energy reduction results and such a model is essentially governed by the following principles:
Investigate how energy will be consumed - Knowing where energy is going is the most powerful thing an organisation can do and signifies a major step on the road to environmental initiative.

Install energy optimising controls and equipment –
 i.      Renewable Energy Source(s)
ii.      Smart Control system
iii.      Energy Monitoring devices
iv.      Sensor inputs
v.      Display Interfaces
vi.      Software
vii.      Energy Efficient fittings

Implement an energy regime – By aggregating data, multiple sensory inputs, utility tariff structures and other occupant profiles it is then possible to incorporate an energy optimisation regime.

Interact with everyone – Establishing transparency by making energy use available in the form of public, departmental and personal displays is a breakthrough in sustainable philosophy. The distribution of real-time energy consumption provides a platform for individuals to be accountable for and therefore complicit in the overall energy reduction process.
Goals and Targets
There are a number of factors incumbent to this building that make it particularly unique and offer the potential of a landmark demonstration project. Not least of all the fact that it is a building of significant heritage, the potential use of natural lighting and ventilation but the gas furnaces offer a resource of particular significance.   The intended use of these furnaces to facilitate Western Australia’s only glass blowing site means that the waste-heat can be utilised to heat, cool and provide hot water for the whole building. This concept of heat recovery and absorption chilling is in it self a renewable energy source which further enhances the unique potential of this proposition. 
There are essentially 5 fundamental components to this project, the combined effects of which can potentially deliver a building that is ‘carbon neutral’:
The components are:
  • Photovoltaic Solar Array
  • Absorption Chiller Unit
  • Monitoring devices
  • Load control devices
  • Supervisory Software
  • Energy Storage
Scope & Scale of Offering
1. Photovoltaic Solar Array
The high performance Sunpower Solar panels offering 50% more efficiency than competing systems are the optimum solution for this proposal. Through the innovative use of the gas fired furnaces and efficient control of energy essentially means the output from the solar array is capable of providing all the necessary power for the building. Electrical output will be monitored and incorporated into the energy displays which will serve to both influence behaviour and provide the necessary feedback for the building to make ‘intelligent’ decisions.
Current estimations suggest a system of 40 to 50KW be incorporated onto the north-facing roof of the building but it is recommended that this be reconsidered once final demand loading is established. This consideration should be taken into account not just for this building but also for the impact of energy use of the other council owned buildings. The nature of this system is such that multiple buildings can be monitored and absorbed into overall carbon considerations. This effect is covered further in section 3 (monitoring) but as a hub for sustainability the workshops building roof could serve as a ‘power station’ serving the wider community.
2. Absorption Chilling
Rarely does an opportunity present itself that a system such as the one proposed here becomes available. By exploiting the waste heat from the gas furnaces this otherwise wasted resource can be recycled to provide a number of essential services. The proposed absorption chiller is a ‘two-stage’ unit which essentially is able to divert the exhaust for either heating or cooling purposes. The heating is capable of delivering both hot water and warm air for the Air Conditioning system during the colder months. The cooling, which is achieved through a heat exchange process, again can be used in the AC system.
Following is a simplified overview of how the system is incorporated:
Initial estimates suggest that given an output from the furnace of 400º - 700º, this will generate approximately 1,558KW (1.5MW) of cooling and a continuous supply of 7º chilled water. This level of energy would, of course, otherwise have to be provided by electrical compressors and air conditioning systems which normally comprise the majority of a building’s demand.
3. Monitoring
figurefigureCrucial to the implementation of a holistic energy strategy is the ability to be able to know where energy is being consumed. It is proposed that energy monitoring hardware be installed at each of the sub-mains locations in order to deliver this vital information.
By installing strategically placed monitoring devices, it then becomes possible to extract this information and facilitate interaction with a building’s occupants. 
Increased feedback -->

Increase in awareness or knowledge -->

Changes in energy-use behavior -->

Decrease in consumption

Aggregated energy monitoring across multiple sites.

As mentioned earlier, being a web based system also allows the ability to aggregate information from community-wide locations and therefore show the ‘net carbon consequence’ of multiple buildings. The imminent expansion of future energy reductions or renewable energy additions into any, or all, of these buildings is therefore summarily represented on the display system.
The widespread distribution of sensing in temporarily occupied areas ensures low cost way of attracting immediate energy saving results. These areas would include thoroughfares, toilets, meeting rooms, storerooms, etc. In addition to this, it is proposed that sensing devices are installed in all perimeter locations to facilitate strategies such as ‘daylight harvesting’ which will be explained in section 4, ‘Load Control’.
The input of prevailing weather conditions offers the system the ability to display, and react to, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction.   It is recommended that a weather station be installed on the building to enhance the functionality of the system as well as provide useful information for the occupants.
The real-time feedback of water and gas usage offers the further potential to initiate economising measures and consider the potential of post-development installation of related systems (e.g. rainwater harvesting, etc.).

4. Load Control
It is common practise in more modern, energy efficient buildings to utilize dimmable fittings which offers a far greater degree of flexibility in order to achieve maximum energy savings by facilitating such strategies as ‘daylight harvesting’.   By assessing the natural light within a space this system is capable of compensating only where artificial light is required.
In addition, any electrical load is able to be controlled in such a way that ensures economical usage where possible. Interface with security, fire systems and air-conditioning is normally recommended for reacting to certain events (e.g. All Lights on full during fire alarm activation, shutdown of all lighting and AC loads when security system is armed, Shutdown of lighting and AC in unoccupied spaces, etc.).
5. Supervision & Display
It is proposed that at designated entrances a kiosk/LCD display screen is mounted which display the dynamic relationship between the energy consumed and energy created. The display will also graph the historical data of the last 7days and month of solar energy captured. This rolling display of information ensures the viewer “keeps” coming back to the display as new and varied methods of graphing and display of the information is used.


Being a web based system it means that individuals are now able to monitor their personal contribution to the buildings energy use which is achieved through the display of a “Gadget” installed on their desktop computer.

The proposed system is fully customizable which means the level of interface can be expanded and developed over time both to enhance the experience and to incorporate new energy additions. We believe that this holistic system will set new standards in human interface which by default serves to raise public awareness and create an educational resource.   It is envisaged that energy data will be recorded in either an on-site or off-site server that may not only be used as a vital day to day dynamic display of renewable energy systems, but that the accumulated relevant and accurate information provide a data platform for those interested in sustainable energy solutions.
The software also is capable of interpolating this energy creation and CO2 offset in a number of visual and intuitive symbolic methods -   such as displaying how many “cars” are taken off the road, number of trees equivalent, etc. This graphical method is engaging and immediately understandable to the viewer of the displayed data.

6. Storage
Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
The PHEV is the next generation of Hybrid Vehicle which essentially has greater battery capacity among other modifications. The benefit with regard to this project is the concept known as Vehicle to Grid technology (V2G). As a dedicated mobile unit associated with the Midland Atelier, when parked at the site it is charged by the solar panels on the roof of the building. This has the net affect of eliminating the grid charging normally associated with electric vehicles but the ability of the car to act as energy storage is considered a breakthrough in renewable power generation. During high demand periods or when the solar panels are not producing, the storage capacity in the vehicles battery offers a source of power to supplement electricity. For larger buildings it is more of a long term benefit that requires a number of vehicles to have a greater impact on the buildings infrastructure. 

It is proposed that a number of ‘PHEV docking stations’ be included, not just at the foundry site but also at community wide locations where the car can supplement a buildings load when parked.
Implementation and maintenance
Fundamental to the success of the system is the holistic nature of the installation. The ability to integrate and communicate between all the components of the installation creates a synergistic relationship that elicits an aggregated response to energy use.   It is this fact that requires coordinated management between all members of the consortium and relevant contractors. In broad terms of expected delivery the following program is proposed:
Stage 1 ‐ Engagement of a renewable energy specialist to advise on the building’s electrical designs, incorporation of PV, energy efficiency and management systems and implications towards Green Star accreditation.
Stage 2 ‐ Installation of the PV system on the Foundry in 2010‐2011, either in tandem or prior to the fit‐out of the Foundry. Initially power would be fed back into the grid.
Stage 3 ‐ Foundry fit out in 2010‐2011, development of the Power House interpretive centre, implementation of energy efficiency/management in precinct buildings, incorporation of energy efficiency/management into MRA and FORM community engagement strategy for story telling and educational purposes.
Stage 4 – Ongoing monitoring of the energy system, interpretation centre and community engagement strategies feed back to stakeholders and Green Star accreditation.
Partial installation of the system would render the project much less groundbreaking since it is the synergistic performance of the integral parts that work in unison. Between time of day/year, occupancy and demand the dynamically changing energy system requires a high level of communication and collaborative input from all of the systems.
Project risks include the need for stakeholder approvals i.e. Heritage Council WA, Western Power, delays to the fit out of the Foundry and installations in other buildings. The project will need to adapt to the changing political, financial and regulatory requirements.


Building Dashboard
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Tigo’s New TS4-A-M (Monitoring) & TS4-A-S (Safety)

Tigo's New TS4-A-M (Monitoring) & TS4-A-S (Safety)

Tigo will announce the new product launch of the patented UHD-Core TS4-A (Advanced Retrofit/Add-on) Platform at SPI 2019. The new TS4-A-M (Monitoring) & TS4-A-S (Safety) units have improved lightweight hardware and lower labor costs to address a range of functions and budgets. The TS4-A-M allows module-level monitoring via Tigo's SMART Website & App. The TS4-A-S is UL-certified as a rapid shutdown solution for residential and C&I PV system. Both units join the Tigo's multivendor solution that works with almost any inverter and smart module in the global PV market. Contact sales@tigoenergy.com for pricing, shipping, and availability in Q4'19.