Solar Power in Queensland Gets the Thumbs up from Global Change Institute

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Queensland is known as the Sunshine State, so it only make sense that it’s paving the way when it comes to innovations in solar power.

Queensland’s latest contribution to solar energy and solar power is the recently opened Global Change Institute, a self-sustaining, energy producing building that is set to turn heads at the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus.

Opened in August 2013, the $32 million, 2865 square metre solar powered Global Change Institute is being touted as proof of the University’s commitment to sustainability issues both locally in Queensland, and on a global scale.

A New Face For Solar Power – Queensland

The Global Change Institute building, designed by renowned, innovative design firm HASSELL, is not only going to have the unique boasting point of being Australia’s first education-sector carbon neutral building, but will also be notable for generating its own solar power. Queensland’s light-filled, warm climate makes it the perfect location for such a building.

The self-sustaining, solar power-supported building is apt in its design. The Global Change Institute, after all, is devoted to exploring and seeking solutions for issues of global change, and in particular those related to resource consumption.

The Living Building Challenge: solar power is a must

The development is part of the Living Building Challenge, a certification program that applies stringent sustainability rules to new developments. Those that meet the standards of the challenge find themselves able to boast of being among the “greenest” buildings in the world. It’s hoped that these buildings will inspire similar sustainable designs and usher in an increasingly mindful approach to low-energy development utilizing environmentally friendly components such as solar power.

In order to meet the Living Building Challenge standards, buildings must meet a number of key performance targets, with one of these being energy. The utilization of solar power collected through solar panels is essential to meeting the “energy” standard of this challenge.

A Nod for Solar Panels – Queensland

As noted, the Global Change Institute will generate its own power using pollution-free solar sources, namely solar panels. Queensland’s near-tropical status makes the state the perfect contender for such a building, which has been carefully outfitted to capture or deflect the sun’s rays depending on the building’s needs.

It is estimated that thanks to the building’s solar panels, Queensland University’s campus greenhouse emissions will be slashed by some six per cent. These drastic energy savings speak to the enormous environmental benefits that can be provided by solar panels in Queensland as technology improves and the public becomes increasingly aware of what solar power can achieve.

Solar panels: Queensland taking charge with design

The building is an important turning point in Australian design, which is increasingly moving away towards environmentally friendly, self-sustaining approaches.

It’s an approach that is much lauded given that Australia’s natural environment makes it well suited to incorporate solar power generating solar panels into its building stock.

Rather than large-scale constructions representing consumption, buildings such as the Global Change Institute present an opportunity to contribute to the environment by reducing waste and generating solar power to be stored for future use.

In addition, excess electricity generated through the solar panels will be directed back to the power grid in Queensland and nationally.

Deflecting Solar power in Queensland

In recognition of the strength of the sun’s solar power in Queensland, the building has also been carefully outfitted with sophisticated insulation and shading systems that serve to mitigate or redirect the sun’s rays where needed.

A shading system monitors the path of the sun and responds accordingly to deflect heat, while careful air-flow design and heat-resistant roofing materials are used to maximize efficiency and minimize the need for air-conditioning.

Solar power in Queensland: just the beginning

The Global Change Institute is a forward-looking and externally focused construction, too. Due to its unique, un-peered design, the building can be used as a “live research site”, with staff able to use it to examine the benefits of solar power in Queensland with a view to extending the development of similar buildings in sub-tropical and tropical areas around the world.

The building’s “low energy” mantra is something to which the Institute is considerably committed, and which is made possible by a blend of superior architectural and engineering design, and the technology afforded by solar power and solar panels.

The sheer size and scale of the new building represents a valuable step in the right direction for solar power in Queensland, and highlights the many social, environmental and economic benefits of solar panels.

Queensland’s commitment to increased sustainability and environmental awareness has always been impressive, and with newsworthy solar powered developments such as the Global Change Institute occurring more and more often, it’s certainly the case that solar panels in Queensland will become increasingly mainstream.

Article by Eclipse Solar a provider of solar panel installation services and supplies REC solar panels and solar hot water systems in Queensland, including Nambour, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Article appearing courtesy 2GreenEnergy.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.