A 77,000sqm basement constructed beneath the surface of Sydney’s Barangaroo South precinct is allowing the area to maximise sustainability outcomes while reducing costs.

Containing everything from a cooling plant to water treatment facilities, the basement is a prime example of how to implement less obstructive utility rooms.

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.

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 and 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.

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