This large grey box might not dazzle the senses, but its presence in a Fortitude Valley office block puts Brisbane at the cutting edge of green building technology.
The "box" is actually a gas-fired co-generation plant and its home, Green Square’s North Tower on St Paul’s Terrace, will be Queensland’s first six-green-star building when it opens at the end of this month.
The co-gen plant uses heat produced during power generation to provide cooling for the tower’s air-conditioning system.
Nestled on the top floor of Green Square North, the $2 million plant will cut the building’s greenhouse emissions by 43 per cent.
"A normal building creates 100 kilograms of emissions per square metre each year," Leighton Properties Queensland director Andrew Borges said.
"This building will create less than 29 cubic kilos of emissions so it’s over a 70 per cent reduction."
A strip of "winter rooms" that line the western side of the building will complement co-generation’s contribution to lower emissions.
The winter rooms have been placed in an optimal part of the building to make use of breezes and light.
When their external walls of double glazed glass windows are opened and their internal sliding glass doors are closed, the air-conditioning shuts off, leaving them cool and breezy without any artificial cooling.
Mr Borges said winter rooms would be a critical part of all environmentally friendly office buildings from now on.
"The biggest consumer of energy in a building is your air conditioning system, so that’s the thing to really focus on," he said.
The co-gen plant will generate 1000 watts of electricity, making it the largest ever constructed in Australia.
Mr Borges said Green Square North’s co-gen plant put it streets ahead of the internationally-recognised three-year-old Council House Two tower in Melbourne, which was Australia’s first six-green-star building.
"It really is known as the leading green star building in the southern hemisphere," he said.
"Its co-gen plant there will produce 60 watts of energy, our co-gen plant will produce over 1000 watts of energy.
"So it’s shown you how quickly technology has increased," he said.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission and consultancy firm Cardno will be among the first tenants to move into Green Square North Tower when it is completed on June 30.Read more