Energy efficient living and working practices in 2024

by Helena Morgan
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We can be comforted by the fact that for every week of the year, there seems to emerge word of an encouraging and innovative energy-efficient alternative. 

In no particular order, Facility Management offers a round-up of 2024’s best energy efficiency news and shares the most inspiring leaps forward in sustainable and renewable measures.

1.UNSW study offers possible answer for desert city temperature control 

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia may experience a 4.5 degrees Celsius decrease in temperature if highly reflective and ‘super cool’ building materials – manufactured by UNSW-based research team, the High-Performance Architecture Lab – are combined with irrigated greenery and energy retrofitting. 

UNSW Scientia professor Mattheos Santamouris says cities would be wise to embrace heat migration technologies. “Heat mitigation techniques reduce urban overheating, decrease the reliance on cooling needs and ultimately improve lives,” he says.

2.Recycling goals made achievable by Territory Pharmacy program

TerraCycle and the Northern Territory’s leading pharmacy group Territory Pharmacy are launching an inaugural and free territory-wide blister packs recycling program.

Scheduled to trial in 12 participating Territory Pharmacies and two regional health clinics before moving to other locations, the program invites Northern Territorians to donate empty blister and medication packs at drop-off locations.

3. GCCA invites tech start-ups to join journey towards net zero emissions in cement industry

Demonstrating fierce commitment to helping the global cement industry slash emissions, the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) has launched a program to capitalise on the resources and knowledge of tech start-ups.

The GCCA’s Innovandi Open Challenge 2024 calls on start-ups that are interested in experimenting with carbon capture use and storage to submit an application that outlines an innovative way to stall carbon emissions. Desirable solutions include relying on process-integrated and end-of-pipe CO2 capture and use. 

“Our industry is committed to achieving net zero and the development of carbon capture technology is a key part of that work,” says Claude Loréa, GCCA’s cement, innovation and environmental, social and governance director.

4. Brisbane health facility honoured with Australia-first Green Star rating

Staying true to its acronym, the Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Service (STARS) in Brisbane has become the first hospital in Australia to receive a 5 Star Green Star Performance rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

“STARS has set a new standard in the Australian health sector for energy and water consumption, thermal insulation and decreased operational emissions,” says GBCA chief executive officer Davina Rooney.

5. Pacific decarbonisation efforts recognised at Schneider’s Sustainability Impact Awards

Schneider Electric has honoured global efforts towards creating a more sustainable and electric future in its annual awards. 

This year’s awards, which were revealed at Schneider‘s Innovation Summit in April, spotlighted the University of New South Wales’ efforts to reduce its campus’ environmental footprint and subsequently emerge as a sustainability leader. 

Schneider Electric’s Pacific zone president Colette Munro calls on Australian businesses to consider Schneider Electric as a reliable digital partner for sustainability and efficiency. “For those unsure how to navigate the initial steps of decarbonisation, there is support available from Schneider Electric to help commence their journey to sustainability through digitisation and energy efficiency,” says Munro.

6. Future Made in Australia Act posits hopeful clean energy future

Australia’s primary body for scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, Science and Technology Australia (STA), says it is comforted by the Albanese government’s plans to create a Future Made in Australia Act. 

In confirming the proposed Future Made in Australia Act will ignite investment in clean energy technology for Australia, the Prime Minister believes Australia has the opportunity to set a precedent in the global race for clean energy technology development.

7. Quayclean Australia vows to set new precedents in sustainable waste management

Australian-owned cleaning, hygiene and waste management company, Quayclean, is aspiring towards a commendable 85 percent recycling rate after receiving the cleaning and presentation contract for four New South Wales venues. 

Accepting the cleaning and presentation contract has encouraged Quayclean to trial innovative systems, technologies and resources to not only maximise labour efficiency but also adhere to six of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

8. Low-carbon concrete emerges as a possible clean energy construction material

RMIT University has developed low carbon and durable concrete that recycles double the amount of coal ash in comparison to current standards and halves the amount of cement required. The ongoing demand for concrete presents society with a conundrum – cement is a key ingredient of concrete, yet cement production contributes to eight percent of global carbon emissions.

In light of these major hurdles to a clean energy future, RMIT engineers have collaborated with AGL’s Loy Yang Power Station and the Ash Development Association of Australia to substitute 80 percent of the cement in concrete with coal fly ash.

9. Cooling and heating take to the floor at Smart Design Studio’s office

On 11 January, Sydney had its muggiest day on record, with the hourly dew point reaching a record temperature of 25.9 degrees Celsius and humidity weighing in at 94 percent.

The office workers at architecture practice Smart Design Studio, in Alexandria, Sydney did not experience a temperature higher than 26 degrees, and it wasn’t due to the whir and hum-drum of air conditioning. 

Facility Management spoke with Smart Design Studio founder and creative director William Smart about the underfloor heating and cooling at the Sydney studio. Two years on from installing the underfloor heating and cooling, Smart says the office is serene and “whisper quiet” – drenched in natural light and never hotter than 26 degrees with “incredibly low” energy consumption to boot.

10. Health professionals and Healthy Futures implore Australian Climate Change Minister to regulate methane emissions

Healthy Futures and countless health professionals have penned an open letter to Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen to demand policy reform for coal and gas-induced methane emissions. More than ten of Australia’s primary health bodies have signed the letter and outlined the immense health benefits to be derived from combatting methane emissions.  “We know climate change is the biggest public health emergency there is. We need better coal and gas methane regulation now,” says general practitioner Dr Harry Jennens. 

Navigating a flexible working world.

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