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Headquarters lightens the load
CFA State Headquarters, sitting on the high side of Lakeside Drive in East Burwood, has recently experienced an ‘internal detox’.
This 24 year old, two-level, tilt panel walled building, houses the Office of the CEO and is home to some 280 Headquarters staff. Fire & Emergency Management, People & Culture, Performance & Strategy and Business Services teams are all based within its walls.
Built in 1990, the building has seen a number of tenants and undergone several fitouts in its time. Around 18 months ago, building owners Kador Group Holdings recognised the building was operating
wastefully and needed to be upgraded. With an unenviable National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) score of around 1.5 stars* at that time, there was much room for improvement.
Several opportunities to upgrade or retrofit energy and water fittings were identified and work to improve the building's overall environmental footprint commencing in 2013. With no disruption to service delivery, works were carried out through the first half of the year. Building works undertaken included:
- Installation of automated external blinds to reduce solar heat gain inside the building
- Upgrade of all general office lights from T8 to T5 fluorescent tubes
- Fitting of 4 and 6 star Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rated tapware, urinals and toilets
- Fitting of motion sensors in common area spaces – toilets, store rooms etc. – to reduce energy associated with lighting
- Installation of bike racks and lockers to encourage sustainable commuting
- Sub-metering of the building to improve understanding and analysis of electricity load
- Replacing broadloom carpet with environmentally certified floor carpet tiles - 'ECOsoft' backed, PVC free, and with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) for improved air quality
- Fitting of environmentally certified, recycled content ceiling tiles to office space vacated by ESTA
- Improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning efficiency by rebalancing units, rezoning/modifying air ducts and adjusting set points and start/stop times; and
- Connection of power factor correction equipment to reduce apparent power draw and improve energy efficiency.
These works support CFA’s corporate environmental sustainability objective to ‘minimise the impact of our activities on the environment’, and also align with Kador’s environmental strategies.
Since building upgrades were completed late last year, there has been a big drop in gas, electricity and water use in the building. This has meant lower operating costs and a reduction in carbon emissions. In January 2013, our monthly utility bill was around $23,000, with around 165 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. By March this year, costs had fallen to around $15,000 and emissions down to 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide per month. These cost savings are even more remarkable given they come about when utility charges were increasing. If our Headquarters building was NABERS rated now, we would score 4 star* water and 2.5 star* whole building ratings.
As part of the upgrade project, Sustainability consultants Savills Facilities Management were engaged to carry out benchmarking and monitoring services for Kador and CFA. The old adage: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” rings true in this case. If we were not measuring our electricity, gas and water use, we would not be able to identify ways to reduce it.
In coming months, we will continue to measure and reduce our use of energy and water at Headquarters. We have already found ways to help with this – like making sure the heaters and coolers are not ‘on’ at the same time, and ensuring the air conditioner fan coil units are not operating 24/7. But our focus will also shift to changing people’s behaviour – simple things like switching off computers and lights when they are no longer needed. Additional upgrades, including a 20kW solar panel system installation on our metal deck roof, will also be considered. At some point in the future, formal NABERS ratings for 8 Lakeside Drive will be sought.
CFA State Headquarters still sits high on the hill overlooking Tally Ho Business Park. It just sits a little lighter now that it has had a detox.
*non-accredited NABERS ratings