ACU cuts energy consumption and emissions with innovation and design

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Mercy Building, Brisbane

ACU Brisbane’s Mercy Building has exceeded its energy and water efficiency goals set in 2018.

Upon opening in 2018, the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Mercy Building planned to contribute to the school’s energy and water efficiency benchmarks. Today, via a press release, it has announced it exceeded ACU’s established targets by seven percent.

Innovative design features in heating and cooling equipment have transformed how the Brisbane campus uses electricity, enabling the university to cut power consumption by 264,000 kilowatts per hour (kWh), saving $70,000 last year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 210 tonnes.

Here’s a summary of the Mercy Building’s sustainability features:


  • There is a 100-kilolitre rainwater tank to collect rainwater that falls on the roof of the building to water campus gardens.
  • All taps and urinals are rated at six stars under the nationals WELS (water efficiency) standard, all toilets are at four stars and all showers are limited to a maximum flow of nine litres per minute.


  • The building’s highly efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) plant has been integrated into the whole of the campus’s HVAC system. This enabled the FM team to apply energy-saving strategies that were impossible with the previous system. The team is now able to adjust heating and cooling to better match changing energy demand.
  • All appliances installed are among the most energy efficient in their class.


  • During construction, at least 80 percent of construction waste was recycled.
  • The building uses timber from sustainable sources only.
  • Paint, carpets, furniture and flooring have been selected to minimise the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are present in many of the materials conventionally used to furnish and decorate the interior of buildings and are harmful to human health. The building’s indoor plants (a design feature) help improve the air quality inside the building.


  • Purpose-built end-of-trip facilities for cyclists, comprising showers, lockers and bike storage have been included.

“The design of the Mercy Building provides occupants with abundant natural light and very high air quality,” says ACU associate vice-chancellor (Queensland) Professor Jim Nyland. “These are vital for well-being. And out of sight of the occupants, the building’s air-conditioning system works to cut the energy demand, not only of the Mercy Building, but of the whole campus.”

The ACU’s sustainability commitment is founded on its identity and mission, which sees the ecology of the planet as an integral whole of all living things and the systems that sustain them.


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