Sustainable Urban Precincts Program

Sustainable Urban Precincts Program

RMIT is strongly committed to transforming its own built environment to create sustainable and resilient cities.

To realise this vision, RMIT committed to a $128 million plan to reduce energy and water use, significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions associated with campus operations. The Sustainable Urban Precincts Program (SUPP) is the largest program of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The results have been amazing! 

Over the past several years, RMIT has partnered with Siemens and Honeywell to identify opportunities for energy and water savings and implement solutions to capture these savings in 77 buildings in the City, Bundoora and Brunswick campuses.

The major project works are now complete and RMIT is realising the savings that flow from this significant investment – savings which will be guaranteed by our project partners to continue at these levels for a period of 8 years.

The SUPP will reduce grid electricity use over eight years by an estimated 263 million kilowatt hours, leading to a 30,000-tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year. Water use will be reduced by an estimated 53 million litres per year.

But it wasn’t all about emissions. By developing the project scope with consideration of the existing conditions and known lifecycle considerations of installed equipment, the SUPP investments have also resulted in significant operational improvements that benefit the entire RMIT stakeholder community.

The SUPP at RMIT is a “once in a generation” project and has provided RMIT with the means to effect a step change in energy use with a fundamental shift in momentum toward sustainability.

Program vision

The SUPP was born out of a commitment that RMIT made in 2007 to reduce emissions associated with campus operations by 25 percent. But our vision for the program ran deeper than an emissions commitment. The University’s vision was that our campuses should be integrated with the cities we engage with, contributing to urban sustainability and culture and providing learning and engagement opportunities for our students.

 RMIT continues to ensure that changes to the built environment demonstrate leadership excellence in sustainable design and innovation. Our achievements have not gone unnoticed, with the RMIT SUPP being awarded the 2017 best smart energy project by the National Energy Efficiency Council.

The SUPP was delivered under an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) model ensuring that the energy savings associated with the investment were guaranteed by our global partners to ensure that RMIT will achieve the committed emissions reduction target.

The SUPP Infrastructure upgrades were leveraged to create world-leading, innovative, future-proof, collaborative projects which have embedded sustainability across the core business of the University and delivered strategic outcomes for schools and research areas.

Program outcomes 

The electricity savings delivered under this project amount to 13 percent of the total RMIT Victorian portfolio usage, excluding the contributions of the installed embedded generation (solar PV and co/trigeneration). When the SUPP installed sources of onsite generation are factored into this equation, the grid electricity savings increase to 53 percent!

The total emissions profile as a result of these savings is offset by the additional natural gas that is required to generate our own electricity onsite. However, when all components of energy use are considered, the resultant reduction in emissions associated with University operations at these campuses is expected to amount to 39 percent - which is industry leading in terms of onsite emissions savings.

Program deliverables

The works were implemented across 77 buildings and included;

  • Embedded co/trigeneration facilities (4.4MWe) and new private high voltage ring main infrastructure at Bundoora West and the City Campus. At the same time heating and cooling systems were centralised to allow for load aggregation.
  • 11 high efficiency boilers and 12 high efficiency chillers
  • Water saving fittings and fixtures, rainwater harvesting and cross-campus irrigation upgrades
  • Building automation system installations and modifications including Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system overhauls and large scale Variable Speed Drive (VSD) deployment across the campuses
  • 40,000 LED light fittings installed
  • A 92kW solar PV installation (only a catalyst for further installations) 

All works were completed under live operational conditions with minimal impact to the University core business. This is a feat that should not be understated considering that the program was delivered across a building portfolio that spans three centuries and includes some of the oldest buildings in Melbourne.

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Noteworthy

The commitment RMIT made to reduce emissions associated with campus operations was to be achieved by 2020. RMIT actually achieved this 25 percent reduction target in 2016, four years earlier than targeted. With the final completion of SUPP works, is set to exceed the expected savings in 2018 with a forecast saving of 39 percent of CO2-e emissions.

Scholarships

The SUPP has provided 10 PhD scholarships to RMIT students. The successful candidates are now part of world-leading, innovative and collaborative multi-disciplinary research projects, supported by strong industry linkages. The scholarship projects are as follows:

  • Buildings Engineered for Urban Sustainability
    School of Property Construction and Project Management and the School of Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Inhabiting Buildings - Embedding Sustainability into RMIT Culture (two scholarships)
    Digital Ethnography Research Centre, School of Media and Communication and the Centre for Urban Research, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies
  • Powering Future Cities - Information Systems for Shaping Energy Use Behaviour
    School of Business IT and Logistics
  • Powering Future Cities - Information Management for Automated Energy Control in Green Buildings
    School of Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Powering Future Cities - Smart Demand Side Management Support System
    Platform Technologies Research Institute
  • Enhanced Microgrid with Sustainable Energy Storage for Peak Load Levelling
    School of Engineering
  • iCO2mmunity - Designing Adaptive and Responsive Environments for Greener Behaviours
    School of Computer Science and Information Technology
  • iCO2mmunity: Context Aware Activity, Monitoring and Analytics for a Greener Campus
    School of Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Technical Evaluation of a Trigeneration and Cogeneration Systems
    School of Engineering

Contact

For more information on any aspect of the SUPP program please contact the sustainability team via email sustainability@rmit.edu.au.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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