Wellington building takes out international green award

06 September 2018

Picture: Studio Pacific Architecture

SINGAPORE, 6 September 2018 – A Wellington building has taken out an international green award at a gala ceremony in Singapore.

Aorangi House on Molesworth Street, home to engineering consultancy Beca, was praised by the World Green Building Council as a ‘well-deserved winner’, and a ‘stellar example’ of a green building.

Aorangi House is one of New Zealand’s most energy-smart buildings, and co-won the Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award in the Commercial category, alongside Barangaroo South in Sydney, Australia, as part of the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards.

The biennial awards programme celebrates iconic green buildings, up-and-coming innovators and inspiring companies driving change and creating a better future throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Previously an outdated 1970s office block in Wellington, the Aorangi House revitalization project demonstrates how the up-cycling of an existing commercial office building can not only significantly reduce environmental impact but also achieve positive user perceptions coupled with leading environmental performance outcomes.

The building was vacated in 2005 due to issues with heating, cooling and ventilation. The single glazed windows leaked, and the uninsulated façade was considered user-unfriendly. The building remained untenanted until purchased by developer Prime Property Group.

The design team consisting of Beca building services engineers and Studio Pacific Architects adopted an integrated design approach to the major refurbishment. The strategic design had to meet tenant and landlord economic requirements and focussed on achieving value added outcomes with the end user in mind.

In the reuse of the existing building structure, the project saved significant embodied energy and embodied emissions compared to a new construction project. For continuous improvement, the building tuning and replacement of the gas boiler with VRF heating resulted in the building’s operations becoming significantly more efficient well after the original refurbishment.

During the refurbishment, there were a number of significant improvements, including the infusion of passive solar design principles (natural ventilation, exposed thermal mass and external insulation, natural lighting) that significantly reduced the energy demand. These and other measures resulted in 64% energy savings, 78% operational waste diversion and a re-used building that saved both demolition waste and energy for new materials.

A Post Occupancy Evaluation carried out by Victoria University of Wellington placed Aorangi House as top building overall in the New Zealand dataset. Contributing to this were excellent relative perceptions of the overall comfort of the building and its perceived influence on the health and productivity of the users.

The success of the Aorangi House revitalization project demonstrates how existing buildings can be effectively rejuvenated utilising a performance focussed approach to lead the transition towards a sustainable built environment.

The jurors of the Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award in the Commercial categorywere Prof Lam Khee Poh, Provost’s Chair Professor, Dean (School of Design & Environment), National University of Singapore; Brian Dean, Energy Efficiency, International Energy Agency, and Autif Sayyed, Green Building Specialist, International Finance Corporation, World Bank.

Juror Prof Lam Khee Poh, Provost’s Chair Professor, Dean (School of Design & Environment), National University of Singapore said: “To effectively move the needle towards achieving a sustainable built environment globally, it is imperative that we deal with the huge existing stock of buildings that are not performing to the standards that we now expect in order to meet the sustainability goals. In some respects, it is a more challenging task than building new, having to deal with the given physical constraints.

The Aorangi House Revitalization Project successfully demonstrated that when there’s a will, there’s a way. It adopted a comprehensive passive design strategy to maximize the performance contribution while augmenting with active systems to deliver an integrated mixed-mode solution that has proven to work well.”

Joelle Chen, Regional Head of WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Network said: “Our Green Building Councils in the Asia Pacific Regional Network work with some of the most pioneering companies and innovators on green building.

The Aorangi House refurbishment project is a stellar example of how an existing building can be made energy-smart with integrative design and occupant engagement. Punching above its weight, it raises the bar for existing buildingrenovation projects to follow and a well-deserved winner of the Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award in the commercial category.”

Ben Masters, Associate – Building Services at Beca New Zealand said: “Consideration must be given to recycling existing building stock to target the aspirational Zero Carbon buildings goal and we hope this award demonstrates that sustainable refurbishment is a viable option to the carbon-hungry alternative of demolition and replacement. We are proud to call Aorangi House our Wellington home and to have contributed to the positive building performance outcomes”

Aorangi House was crowned a co-champion of the Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards for 2018 at a ceremony hosted by the Singapore Green Building Council, during its annual Gala Dinner in Singapore on Thursday 6 September 2018.

The 2018 winners are:

  • Naandi, India - Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award – Residential category; with Special Recognition, Advancing Net Zero;
  • Barangaroo South, Australia - Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award – Commercial category;
  • Aorangi House, New Zealand - Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award – Commercial category;
  • Green One United Nation House, Vietnam - Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award – Institutional category;
  • Swire Properties Limited, Hong Kong - Business Leadership in Sustainability Award; with Special Recognition, Better Places for People;
  • Mary Chan, DLN Architects Limited, Hong Kong - Women in Green Building Leadership Award.

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