Smart utility management
A variety of energy saving initiatives have been implemented campus-wide by Asset Management Services (AMS), which have achieved significant environmental and financial savings. This includes utility cost savings of $1.5 million since 2012 and over 7,140 tco2-e emissions.
Building Management System (BMS)
An integrated Building Management System was implemented to provide real-time data on energy and water consumption for all individual buildings; giving an understanding of how electricity, mains water, recycled water and chilled water are used across the Sippy Downs campus. This enables real-time analysis of power and water use for reporting purposes and communications.
Power and water usage in all buildings on campus is centrally monitored by Asset Management Services. SMART meters are installed in all buildings on campus, with data collected from the meters fed back to a desktop application that allows real-time analysis of power and water usage.
The reports generated from the collated data are used to identify trends in power and water consumption, which can then be used to identify future conservation opportunities.
Much of the air-conditioning on campus is centrally monitored. This allows for better control, energy saving and quicker response time for breakdowns as a result of the system’s early warning capabilities.
The air-conditioning in the larger lecture theatres is being converted to a movement detection system rather than the current time schedule that operates continuously during teaching hours. This will result in significant power saving and removes the requirement for scheduling air-conditioning for after-hours events.
Conventional refrigeration air conditioning systems have been replaced with energy-efficient chilled water systems. Spiral filters are being implemented in the chilled water systems to increase efficiency by around 10% through the removal of excess dirt, air and metals from the water.
Variable speed pumps and smart controls have been added so chilled water is pumped at a rate consistent with the demand for air-conditioning, allowing a significant reduction of power used in times of low demand. This has led to ongoing savings of $38,535/year.
Smart CO2 sensors
Smart CO2 sensor controls were added to the campus air-conditioning system which sense the people load according to the amount of CO2 in the return air path and adjusts the supply of the air-conditioning accordingly. This has resulted in significant power savings as the cooling requirements are dependent on the number of people occupying the space at one time which removes the need for continuous cooling day and night. This has achieved an average saving in energy use of 50% for each upgraded building.
On-campus wayfinding lighting has been replaced with more energy efficient LED street lights, and T5 low energy fluoro tubes are in use across campus. These draw around 30 watts compared to 100-plus watts in conventional fluoro tubes.
The University has replaced all exit and evacuation lights with a system that provides 24/7 monitoring and eliminates the need for contractors to test and maintain the system.
High-level openings in the Sport Stadium allow additional daylight and exhaust of hot air, while split circuits allow for varied lighting levels.
In April 2015, the University combined all separate electricity meters into one virtual meter which created one account and one lower rate demand charge being payable per month. This resulted in the continuation of reduced electricity bills with a saving of up to $50,000/year for the Sippy Downs campus.
Contestable energy market
The University undertook negotiations with a number of Australian electricity retailers in 2012 which has brought a significant reduction of the amount payable per kilowatt hour (kWh); up to a 78% reduction for peak rates and a 66% for non-peak rates.
A water treatment plant removes solids and modifies the lake water to produce potable standard water for use as make-up water to the pool and in the cooling towers. The plant reduces the University’s potable water usage by as much as 20kL daily. The University pool also uses an efficient electronic chlorinator.
The University aims for, and consistently achieves, potable water usage per student of less than 5kL annually. Water usage is reduced by using harvested stormwater for all on-campus irrigation, and conventional water bubblers have been replaced with models that encourage reuse of water bottles in lieu of buying bottled water. The University provides a variety of alternative options to purchasing commercial bottled water. Refer to the Water Refill Campus Initiative.
Water monitoring and systems
Asset Management Services conducts regular surveys to locate water leaks on campus and has implemented audit and flow test of all taps and fittings and the installation of water saving devices and efficient isolation points for ongoing plumbing works on campus.
Hot water taps have been removed from toilet facilities on campus. Hot water at the University’s research centre on Fraser Island is provided entirely by solar hot water systems.
The University's engineering area is conducting research into the way permeable pavements alter the movement and quality of surface water.
The USC Cab Rank project will test permeable pavement and the ability to store captured water.
The Street Tree project, conducted in partnership with University of South Australia and the Sunshine Coast Council, will test a method that allows trees to grow without damaging pavement. A test site has been established in one of the campus carparks.
There is a stormwater management system of lakes, swales and settling ponds on campus to protect the Mooloolah River National Park's waterways from high nutrient levels and sediment run-off.
USC is the first university to use recycled water in swimming pool
In 2015, USC became the first university in Australia to supplement 'make up' water for the swimming pool with treated onsite lake water. The treated lake water meets the Australian Standard to Potable Water Classification making it the first project of its kind in the country to be used for this purpose.
The lake water is part of an integrated catchment system that directs storm water runoff through a system of swales and creeks before being collected for storage in two lakes onsite. The lake water is then treated using state of the art technology and re-used for both the University swimming pool and the centralised cooling towers which are a part of the campus air-conditioning system.
Since this project has been implemented, the University has achieved a saving in excess of 20,000 Litres of mains waters used per day, which also significant reduces the cost for mains water supply.
Sustainability is an important focus of the cleaning contract, with the inclusion of a solar-powered buggy and the use of micro-fibre cloths rather than cleaning chemicals, for example. Cleaning is carried out during the day to reduce overnight energy use.
Sustainability is a key component in the tendering and design process for buildings.
The University shares sporting facilities, car parking and storm water run-off with Chancellor State College to minimise infrastructure and environmental footprint.
Paper usage has been minimised with conversion to electronic invoicing and receipting.
Hand towels have been replaced with blow dryers in toilets on campus.
The University’s Recycling and Waste Officer monitors all waste and checks the contamination levels in recycling bins, and takes part in education programs. There is also a waste management plan to recycle, use recycled products and treat hazardous waste.
Recyclable cutlery made of 100% corn starch and compostable cups are used in the Brasserie and other food outlets.
Biodegradable cling-wrap is being used in Brasserie kitchen trials. The wrap breaks down in sunlight and allows air to circulate around the product. The wrap is certifiable to European compostable standards.
A trial is to be undertaken to assess the viability of harvesting waste oil from fryers and distilling it into biodiesel to run tractors and mowers.