Building Tuning Success Stories

by Energy Action | Feb 06, 2017
Tuning your way to 6 Stars: how a building in Melbourne reached the highly coveted NABERS 6 Stars rating and started saving over $37k per annum through extensive tuning, collaboration and great management. Outcomes cannot be claimed solely by the consultant, as the role of the facilities manager has been, without question, critical to the successes of the tuning process.

Improvements to operational performance are critical to achieving the Australian Government’s targeted carbon neutrality for the built environment sector by 2050. This target is expected to be met through improved building energy efficiency, on-site energy generation and the purchase of GreenPower and carbon offsets.

The achievements at Tower 3, 747 Collins St Melbourne, are evidence that there is still much opportunity for improvements to building energy efficiency simply through good management practices, even where there might be perceived limits to building performance.

Achievements

The office building was designed to achieve 5.0 stars for base building NABERS Energy, and was already operating at the much higher performance of 5.68 stars at the start of the engagement. The building has since achieved a 6 star NABERS energy rating (without GreenPower), resulting from extensive tuning success. This is equivalent to half the carbon emissions the building was designed for.

One of the very first buildings in Australia to achieve the 6 star NABERS benchmark, it strongly demonstrates the potential and cost effectiveness of building tuning. Utility cost savings through tuning alone have exceeded $37,000 per annum.

Through further tuning, and a new solar PV system, the NABERS performance is now expected to increase beyond 6.20 stars. A proposed micro-grid strategy may even lead to a theoretical 6.5 star NABERS performance in the future, without the purchase of GreenPower.

Consultant engagement

The consultant was engaged for a services package including:

- Setting subsystem energy baselines;
- Identifying tuning opportunities;
- Clear prioritisation of tuning measures, with respect to NABERS and operational benefits, plus ease/cost of implementation;
- Facilitation of tuning;
- Regular monitoring and reporting.

The role of the Facilities Manager 

Outcomes cannot be claimed solely by the consultant, as the role of the facilities manager (FM) has been, without question, critical to the successes of the tuning process.

The keys to the FM driving the successful tuning process include:

- Engagement of a consultant specialising in building energy efficiency;
- A strong working relationship between the consultant and the FM;
- Key site staff with direct responsibility for the site’s environmental and comfort performance;
- Trust and open dialogue between parties with respect to energy efficiency measures;
- Regular monitoring and review of the building’s operation over an ongoing engagement period (this    should be at least 12 months, and preferably not less than 2-3 years);
- Regular contact between the site consultant, the site management and contractors;
- Regular (i.e. quarterly) tuning sessions attended by all parties.

Summary

Achieving high building performance through tuning is possible through strong relationships between the consultant and the FM. Tower 3, 747 Collins St has achieved a 6 star NABERS energy rating (without GreenPower) through a successful tuning program. Significant improvements are required if the sector is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and there is a clear opportunity to do so prior to the purchase of carbon offsets.

The success of the tuning process has led to an ongoing relationship between the consultant and the FM, extending to other buildings in the property portfolio.

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