Forgan Smith Building - University of Queensland
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AIRAH on Air visits UQ’s Forgan Smith Building

AIRAH has released the third episode of its podcast AIRAH on Air.

In it, host Mark Spencer takes listeners to The University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law for a visit to the Forgan Smith Building.

The latest podcast episode is an adaptation of the December 2018 Ecolibrium cover story, detailing the Brisbane tertiary institution’s refurbishment of the Forgan Smith’s west wing.

Originally built in the 1930s and listed as a heritage property, the work included a complete removal of the old HVAC system and the relocation of its plant rooms.

“The existing building had quite high ceilings,” says Aurecon’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Danni Roberts, M.AIRAH. “The architect, the heritage consultant and the client were really keen to maintain high ceilings because it makes the space feel more open.”

The work was commissioned in 2015, with construction running throughout 2016. Project architect BVN collaborated with consulting engineer Aurecon, who led the building services design plans.

“We had to try and figure out a solution that basically kept the ductwork small,” says Roberts, pointing to other space-taking services – such as cable trains and a siphonic stormwater drainage system – that they had to contend with.

“We had to make ducts fit while also getting air to all of the spaces. To get around this we designed more plantrooms across the footprint of the floor, so we had shorter duct runs and then we could keep the ducts smaller.”

BVN was lauded by the Australian Institute of Architects, taking home prizes for Educational Architecture and Interior Architecture in 2017. Aurecon’s work on the Forgan Smith Building was also a shortlisted finalist at the 2018 AIRAH Awards in the Best HVAC Retrofit or Upgrade category.

AIRAH’s executive manager of government relations and technical services, Phil Wilkinson, F.AIRAH, says the Institute has long been a proponent of reducing emissions and increasing building efficiency.

“In the early 2000s, we were looking a lot at sustainable buildings – new, green buildings,” he says. “Then we had a lightbulb moment in one of our conferences, recognising that over 90 per cent of the built environment was already there. If we didn’t pay attention to that, we were missing a lot of opportunities to reduce emissions.”

AIRAH on Air was launched to uncover stories about Australia’s HVAC&R industry. Previous episodes tackles topics relating to net zero and big data.

Listen to episode three of AIRAH on Air here or play it below.

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