Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How sustainable is something really expensive?

The new high-tech sustainable Perth arena opens

That is the headline in the current issue of the online Architecture and Design news sheet.  Part of the way into the article, without comment, we find the following little snippet:

"Construction took four years more than originally thought and cost under $550 million which is three times over budget."

Sustainable?  No sarcasm intended when I say I'd like to know what framework is being used to evaluate the sustainability. 

Back during the Sydney Olympics, it was found that construction price was a surprisingly useful proxy for embodied impact of construction assemblies.  If it is even approximately useful, it seems to me the chances of recovering the embodied impacts in this project through savings in recurring energy use, waste minimization etc, are hopelessly unlikely before the building reaches the end of its useful life.

If there is no good answer to my question, an article like this is just greenwash, of the worst kind.


Jacqueline Muliawan said...

After I did some researches, I agree that this building really caused a major issue to public in terms of the cost as well as its finishing time. However, based on Western Australian Auditor General’s Report, the original time and cost estimation of this building was made in very short time and before the final project scope was well understood and defined. Therefore, after the estimation, there were some major design changes during planning, tendering and contract award phases, and it leaded to increasing cost. As the example, one of the major modifications on this building is car park location where it should be built above the nearby railway line, but now it is underneath the arena itself. I think this problem can be used as experience for government, build environment professionals or anyone else to fully consider the project complexity before estimating the cost and time. Thus the public could understand that the estimation result is almost the same with the final project and would not induce any issues or misleading assumptions to that project.

Yes, Perth Arena is a sustainable building. And as you know, sustainable building usually cost more expensive than other building. As I noted, there are some key features of this building in terms of the sustainability that made this building become really complex and expensive, such as :
• Photovoltaic cells on roof. This building is the largest photovoltaic rooftop’s building in Western Australia, and can reduce the use of energy up to 111 kW.
• Individual air conditioning vent that located underneath each seats. This under floor displacement ventilation system provides a low energy solution to achieve the building thermal comfort.
• Retractable roof (approximately 500 tons) that can be opened or closed in very short time (around 7-10 minutes). It supports the air displacement system (adapted from HVAC system) that will decrease greenhouse gas emission by 60% compared to a mixed overhead system.
• Large glassing to allow natural light to public area.
• The toilets are supported with waterless urinals which could reduce the use of water.
• The Proctor-Wrap Air Tight that is used behind the Aluminum composite facade prevent interstitial condensation forming, at the same time it still allows water vapour to pass through the material for over 25 times compared to typical perforate foil products.

This sustainable building is really expensive and according to Western Australian Premier could be seen as equal to Sydney Opera House. Although this iconic building caused a major issue at the beginning, now it seems worthwhile because of its uniqueness, comfort and multipurpose (can be used for music concert, basketball or tennis match) which could support up to 15500 people.

For further information, based on research that I did, Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) stated that the sustainable building should proposed building planning according to these problems, such as indoor environment quality, energy efficiency, water resource efficiencies, storm-water management, building materials, transport, waste management, urban ecology, innovation, and ongoing building and site management. And I think some of these key frames have been planned perfectly on Perth Arena.

Reference :

Glecia O said...

After read this article, I agree with you. This article gives me the sense that sustainable is expensive. With the capacity of 15,500 audiences, they used $550 million which are three times over the budget. I think this also might cause the public to refuse sustainability since it requires big cost. Thus, I did a little search why this building is being called ‘the new high-tech sustainable Perth arena’.

The Perth Arena has puzzle-form with the idea of each piece represents a city, a state, people, places, and ideas. The arena also has flexibility to suit any kind of events and performances. One of the sustainable designs of this building, which makes it so called ‘high-tech sustainable’, is the low environmental footprint with the largest solar panel array in Perth. It has capacity to generate up to 111kw of power. It also includes a mixed mode of air conditioning. Looking from these features, I kind of understand why it is delayed and ended over-budget. It seems to me the design of the complicated forms that result the four years construction and three times over the budget. Thus, what I want to say is, the public should know that sustainable is not expensive.

Another thing that I want to say, in the article titled ‘The new high-tech sustainable Perth arena opens’, it is written that the 3D software packaged Rhino was used to resolve the design and construction issues. As an architecture student, I think it is also important to test the design in real concrete model. This could help a lot in resolving the construction issues rather than just leave it to software.

In addition, according to an article titled ‘Perth Arena Finally Gains Acclaim’, actually there were many critics as this building took time and cost more than the original plan. Yet, the author acknowledged in Australia society which has image of sports, the sporting development still cannot be received directly by public. At the end, this new iconic building gain many loves from the public. This can be seen from this video (link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DCl6gDxypik) which also introduces this high-tech sustainable Perth Arena. It is also worth to watch this video (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sY6ZSPS6jmM) from Cameron Chisholm Nicol who designed the arena together with ARM Architecture. Both of the videos show how the Arena has contributed to the surroundings. I think the $550 million is worth to build this sustainable building that can attract many tourists from all over the world.

Moreover, while reading the articles, I was reminded my home country. I came from Indonesia which is still a developing country. At there, people still not aware about sustainability. Although the green design is becoming a trend now in Indonesia, mostly what they do is adding trees and garden. They haven’t thought about how to minimize or re-use energy (such as using solar panel). In a tropic region, we use too much air conditioning. I think Indonesia has a lot to learn from Australia in this case.

The new high-tech sustainable Perth arena opens http://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/new-sustainable-perth-arena
Perth Arena Finally Gains Acclaim http://designbuildsource.com.au/perth-arena-finally-gains-positive-recognition
Cameron Chisholm Nicol website http://www.ccnwa.com.au/projects/current-and-recent/sport,-entertainment-and-cultural-facilities/14/Perth%20Arena
Perth Arena website http://www.pertharena.com.au/Venue_Information/Design.aspx

Charissa Nora Tandean said...

After reading the article, I agree that this building seems over budget and the construction’s time took longer than the initial time. It can be said that due to this factor, the public will think that to build a sustainable building, it cost the developers, architects and other involved parties so much time and money. However, it can be argued that constructing a sustainable building usually cost more than other type of buildings.

Regarding the budget or money and time aspects, it seemed to receive quite criticisms from the public and the government. According to Western Australia auditor, General Colin Murphy, the project was not properly planned and audited. Moreover, the planning of some of the key elements of the project were rush and not properly plan. As a result, the cost was increased and the finishing date was extended. However, he pointed out that the initial budget and time estimation were quite illogical and the decisions were made before the project was fully understood. Furthermore, he also mentioned that through this project, it could be seen that badly thought decisions could make the State faced serious risks. Additionally, the audit also revealed that the Department of Housing and Works did not follow the original requirements for the contract. They chose the cut-price contract in which the State took responsibility for any increase in cost and time delay. Moreover, Mr Murphy revealed that the record keeping for this project was so bad that it was quite difficult to differentiate whoever and whenever the decisions were made. Hence, it could be concluded that this project had poor beginning, planning and progress. Although it had been undergone quite poor process, it can be said the final result is quite satisfying to the public. Moreover, the government, involved build environment professionals or architects and others that are involve can learn from this experience to understand the project thoroughly before deciding the budget and finishing time.

Perth Arena is a sustainable building. The architects designed this building by taking the environment into consideration. As I mentioned before, a sustainable building usually cost more than other type of buildings. Some of the sustainable key elements are mixed mode natural ventilation to public concourses, displacement air-conditioning system through the seating plats which in return decrease energy consumption, the largest photo-voltaic (solar) arrays on the ceiling, WELLS-rated fixtures, fittings and waterless urinals, water sensitive landscape design, and locally chosen sourced materials such as the local granite. Other than these features, the Arena has other flexible features such as the retractable roof that can be opened and closed within 14 minutes. When open, this roof allows natural light to penetrate into the centre court. Moreover, it has well-considered and designed acoustics, function spaces, corporate hospitality suites, cafes and basement car park.

Additionally, the stadium itself has quite an adaptable design. It can be used in both concert mode and sport mode. While in concert mode, it allows up to 12,000 people and 3,000 in intimate concert mode. As in sport mode, it can support 15.500 people and it can held either basketball or tennis match. It can be said that initially Perth Arena had undergone quite a number of major issues; however, it has become quite an iconic building in Western Australia due to its bold, unique and imaginative design. Despite the budget and time issues, I think the public has accepted the building.

- http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/late-over-cost-auditorgeneral-slams-perth-arena-20100310-pykq.html
- http://www.archdaily.com/347615/perth-arena-arm-architecture-ccn/
- http://www.a-r-m.com.au/projects_PerthArena.html
- http://www.pertharena.com.au/Venue_Information/Design.aspx