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Aurecon builds "Australian first” hybrid solar lighting for RMIT

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University

19 May 2011 - Aurecon, engineering, management and specialist technical services consultancy has recently delivered the building services design for the new Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University Advanced Manufacturing Precinct resulting in an Australian first commercial hybrid solar lighting innovation.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said, “The University has made the commitment to incorporate sustainability principles and practices into teaching and learning, research and operational activities at all campuses in Australia and Vietnam.”

Anthony Calderone, Aurecon’s sustainability consultant tasked with the design said, “Most common solar technologies either turn sunlight into heat or electricity. The hybrid solar light works by tracking the sun and concentrating its energy through a fibre optic cable to a basement level which has no direct access to sunlight.”

This technology has been earmarked as a way forward for buildings to decrease reliance on artificial light across deep floor plates and in rooms with no access to the outside environment.

This is the first commercial installation of this technology in Australia and is expected to contribute to broader market transformations towards sustainable development.

“Energy savings of 50-75 % for lighting are predicted for the areas where the hybrid solar lights are installed,” said Calderone. 

Funding for the initiative was secured with co-operation between RMIT and the Melbourne City Council's 1200 Buildings scheme. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the 1200 Buildings programme is supporting the transformation of existing buildings into centres of environmental innovation, showcases of engineering excellence and driving investment in the city.

In addition to the hybrid solar lighting system, the building includes many other sustainability initiatives such as natural ventilation, the use of thermal mass to temper the building, high levels of insulation to the facade, renewable energy through solar hot water and solar photovoltaics systems.

Calderone added, “The hybrid lighting innovation allows buildings to decrease reliance on artificial light and is expected to contribute to broader market transformations towards sustainable development.”

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