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The Aorangi House revitalisation project demonstrates how the upcycling of an existing commercial office building can achieve positive user perceptions coupled with leading environmental performance outcomes

Wellington’s Aorangi House honoured at international Green Building Awards

Aorangi House, one of New Zealand’s most energy-smart buildings, has co-won the Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award in the commercial category, alongside Barangaroo South in Sydney, Australia, as part of the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards.

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The biennial awards programme celebrates iconic green buildings, up-and-coming innovators and inspiring companies driving change and creating a better future throughout the Asia Pacific region. The award ceremony was hosted by the Singapore Green Building Council during its annual gala dinner in Singapore on 6 September.

Previously an outdated 1970s office block in Wellington, the Aorangi House revitalisation project demonstrates how the upcycling of an existing commercial office building can not only significantly reduce environmental impact, but also achieve positive user perceptions coupled with leading environmental performance outcomes.

The building was vacated in 2005 due to issues with heating, cooling and ventilation. The single-glazed windows leaked, and the uninsulated facade was considered user-unfriendly. The building remained untenanted until purchased by developer Primeproperty Group.

The design team, consisting of Beca and Studio Pacific Architects, adopted an integrated design approach to the major refurbishment. The strategic design had to meet tenant and landlord economic requirements and focused on achieving value-added outcomes with the end user in mind.

During the refurbishment, there were a number of significant improvements, including passive solar design principles that significantly reduced the energy demand

Sustainable refurbishment

Ben Masters, associate – building services at Beca New Zealand, says: “Consideration must be given to recycling existing building stock to target the aspirational Zero Carbon buildings goal and we hope this award demonstrates that sustainable refurbishment is a viable option to the carbon-hungry alternative of demolition and replacement. We are proud to call Aorangi House our Wellington home and to have contributed to the positive building performance outcomes.”

In the reuse of the existing building structure, the project saved significant embodied energy and embodied emissions compared to a new construction project. For continuous improvement, the building tuning and replacement of the gas boiler with VRF heating resulted in the building’s operations becoming significantly more efficient well after the original refurbishment.

During the refurbishment, there were a number of significant improvements, including passive solar design principles (natural ventilation, exposed thermal mass and external insulation, plus natural lighting) that significantly reduced the energy demand. These and other measures resulted in 64% energy savings, 78% operational waste diversion and a reused building that saved both demolition waste and energy for new materials.

A post-occupancy evaluation carried out by Victoria University of Wellington placed Aorangi House as top building overall in the New Zealand dataset. Contributing to this were excellent relative perceptions of the overall comfort of the building and its perceived influence on the health and productivity of the users.

Stellar example

Joelle Chen, regional head of WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific network, says, “The Aorangi House refurbishment project is a stellar example of how an existing building can be made energy-smart with integrative design and occupant engagement. Punching above its weight, it raises the bar for existing building renovation projects to follow, and is a well-deserved winner of the Leadership in Sustainable Design & Performance Award in the commercial category.”

The success of the Aorangi House revitalisation project demonstrates how existing buildings can be effectively rejuvenated utilising a performance-focused approach to lead the transition towards a sustainable built environment.


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