Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emission Standards for Australian Schools and Universities

From 1 May 2010, the Building Code of Australia has required higher energy efficiency standards for Australian school and university buildings. These target a 18 to 31% reduction in energy use over the previous code and also, for the first time include consideration of carbon emissions. Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emission Standards for Australian Schools and Universities. There are Energy Efficiency Provisions for BCA 2010 - Information Handbooks available. The code allows for a prescriptive approach, where standard building materials and techniques are used. This allows for a simpler design process for smaller buildings, where for example, standard insulated panels are used to meet the requirements. There is the alternative energy modeling approach where the designer calculates all the energy use of the building. This allows the use of more sophisticated analysis and for energy optimisation for the overall buildings.

However, the BCA does not appear to be as flexible for comprehensive as the US LEED program. As an example, a university could lower its energy use by using buildings more intensively. Assuming the use of flexible learning, four to eight times as many students could be accommodated in the same building, with a minor increase in energy use. However, under the existing BCA this would likely result in the university being penalised for using more energy, even though the efficiency per student may have increased 500%. LEED allows more flexibility in calculations, with use of the building being taken into account.

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