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New AGSO [Australian Geological Survey Organisation] building national showcase

The Government's new Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO) building in Canberra was a national showcase for innovative and visionary design construction and energy conservation, Senator Warwick Parer said today.

Senator Parer, Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, was officially opening the new $110 million facility.

The building emphasised the Government's commitment to ensuring greenhouse gas emission targets were met.

"The design brief for the building required a demonstration of an appropriate and pragmatic response to sustainable development principles," Senator Parer said.

"It is a complex that showcases many energy conservation features while maintaining a balance between cost efficiency and functionality.

"The building has a compact, well- insulated envelope. All windows are double glazed and the roof and walls are thermally insulated.

"The elements of the complex have an east- west axis, and the primary facades have a north- south orientation to minimise exposure to solar gains.

"A low ratio of external wall to gross floor area minimises the effect of the external thermal conditions on the total air- conditioning systems.

"Along the northern facade there are light shelves which increase uniformity and the penetration of daylight inside the building.

"Throughout, there is a light control system designed for significant energy savings in electrical lighting.

"A sophisticated, computerised building management system will achieve efficient energy use throughout the building complex.

"Another special feature is an air- conditioning system which incorporates the largest geothermal heat pump system yet installed in an Australian building.

"It relies on the fact that at a depth of 100 metres beneath the building the ground has an even and moderate temperature of about 17o Celsius.

"The heat pump system circulates water through a geothermal field. The field contains loops of piping in 350 bore holes, each extending to a depth of 100 metres.

"In winter, the circulating water will collect heat from the earth and carry it into the building. In summer the system reverses to extract heat from the building and transfer it back to the geothermal field.

"The advantages of the geothermal heat pump system over conventional air conditioning systems include a net cost saving of over one million dollars ($1 million) during its life- cycle and reduced annual electricity consumption.

"It is estimated that each year it will be some 18 per cent more efficient than conventional air conditioning.

"This is clearly no ordinary building."

Further information:

Bob Baudino, Senator Parer's office, 0419 438 818