Beneath the surface of Sydney’s Barangaroo South precinct is now an important 77,000sqm basement, containing everything from a cooling plant to water treatment facilities and allowing the area to maximise sustainability outcomes while reducing costs.

James Peterson, Head of Operations for Barangaroo South – Lendlease, was part of a diverse design, development and construction team responsible for bringing the basement to life.

“We wanted to create something that was an example of global operational best practice in terms of its ability to leverage scale to run more efficiently, and removing duplication, whilst creating an exciting place for people to live, work and play,” Mr Peterson said.

“Most large commercial buildings around the CBD have poor ground planes because they have to house plant rooms, driveways, loading dock entries and exits, which leaves room for only a coffee shop or two at best. At Barangaroo we’ve taken the plant, access ways, services and systems required for nine buildings into one basement with just two entry points.”

Some key features include:

District Cooling Plant

A typical building’s air conditioning relies on cooling towers on their roof, consuming on average approximately 20,000L of water per day. Rather than following this approach, the design team wanted to utilise the scale and location on the harbour of Barangaroo and developed a harbour heat rejection central district cooling plant in the basement. By using the harbour water this saves the environment approximately 60,000L per day whilst also freeing up the rooftops for solar panels.

Centralised security control room and operations room

By integrating fire, security, mechanical and lighting systems into one management control platform for the buildings at Barangaroo, the security and operations teams, and tenants, can efficiently monitor and manage more than one million live data points in real time. Rather than having to constantly monitor multiple systems, all data and screens are monitored centrally.

Loading dock

Over 800 vehicles visit the centralised loading dock each day. The dock management system allocates bays by location, truck size and time required – all via one manned dock entry point.

Centralised mailroom

All mail and packages for the three office towers’ tenants are delivered via the dock to the central mail room. The scale allows the approximate 1000 packages per day to be delivered in just three to five runs. The centralised system lets tenants include additional mail sorting criteria such as e-scanning, sorting by department and removing junk or marketing materials.

Recycled water treatment plant

The plant is capable of creating more water than the precinct uses each day. All black and grey water is taken through mechanical and chemical process to convert used water into high quality recycled water used for toilet flushing and irrigation. With an ultimate capacity of more than a million litres a day, the plant can process not only used water from the precinct, but also that from neighbouring buildings. This means more recycled water could be exported than the potable water imported.

Centralised waste & recycling facilities

In the last two years, Barangaroo South has diverted more than 2000 tonnes, or the equivalent weight of about 500 adult elephants, of waste from landfill. Each month alone, the precinct’s compactor chews through 50 to 60 tonnes of food waste before being taken off site for conversion into green energy and fertiliser. This wouldn’t be possible without the centralised five stream recycling system that all tenants have committed to and the many dedicated cleaners and waste team members.

Store rooms

There are over 400 rooms in the basement servicing security, cleaning, plant and pump operations, and retail.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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