Australia’s first solar trees
Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT’s) new five-star Green Star Design rated Science and Engineering Centre features Australia’s first solar trees.
Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT’s) new five-star Green Star Design rated Science and Engineering Centre is powered by a combination of grid power, natural gas and solar energy, which comes from rooftop solar trees, among other sources. Designed and built in Brisbane by Ingenero, the solar trees are an Australian first and are programmed to follow the sun to make the most of every minute of daylight.
The centre’s solar energy also comes from conventional fixed solar panels and a flat panel that also acts as a shade over an outdoor area. The centre also has a trigeneration system, which generates enough electricity to not only power the centre itself, but to put power back into the QUT grid.
The heat recovered for the trigeneration system, which at times reaches 95 percent, according to Anthony Perrau, the project director who oversaw the centre’s development, is reclaimed and used in the centre’s heating and cooling systems. Whereas, the centre’s double-layered glass façade minimises the entry of heat into the building, as does the Argon gas that fills the void between the two glass layers, while the automatic blinds that rise and fall throughout the day further reduce the entry of heat into the buildings.
Another green initiative that is hoped will help achieve the aim of a five-star Green Star As Built rating is the capturing of water from the roof and other hard surfaces for use on the gardens and to top up the swimming pool. Even the condensation that trickles from the centre’s air-conditioning units is collected for reuse.
In addition, green rooftop technology has been incorporated into the roof of the swimming pool complex, with an Australian couch lawn sitting on top and drawing moisture from a giant layer of foam and soil blended with hydrocell flakes. And, Kangaroo vine softens concrete pylons to create vertical gardens and provide shade for other plants and reduce reflected heat.