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Western Australian councils showcase low-energy lighting

A trio of local councils in Western Australia have joined forces to demonstrate the benefits of efficient lighting at a site in Perth’s western suburbs.

The Grove Precinct is a joint project of Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park councils, and incorporates an eco-library, a community learning centre and local administration offices.

In 2007, the councils decided to replace the small library and hired architects Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland, and lighting and electrical consultant ETC to tackle the project.

After consulting the community, it became clear that residents wanted the new building to have as many green features as possible. Fortunately the project attracted AUD1.5 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Green Precincts Fund – although the total cost was AUD18.4 million. The area of the building is about 2,000m2.

As well as saving energy and cutting maintenance, it was important that the high-profile building continue to demonstrate its energy-saving features to the public. ‘It is very much an educative role, complementary to the educational role of libraries in general,’ says Debra Burn, the Grove’s manager of library services.

Sebastian Corvaia, director and lighting design manager at ETC, says: ‘Budget constraints and the need to deliver value to users and community were the greatest challenges of the project.’

Lighting energy efficiency is ensured by extensive use of daylight and the dimmable T5 fluorescent sources. The lighting control system includes strategically located sensors that dim rows of lights in different daylight zones. This system alone should save about 17,000kWh a year.

Metal halide spots and local LED task lights also help ensure efficiency. Light sources have been carefully chosen to suit mounting heights and local illumination requirements.

‘The versatility of the interior spaces meant the lighting needed to respond to both traditional print and electronic media,’ says Corvaia. ‘Glare from both daylight and electrical lighting had to be considered. This was done through the choice of suitable luminaires and sun-shading devices.’

The result is that library users often comment on how much they enjoy working in a building with an abundance of daylight. ‘The building was designed and built before affordable LED lighting systems became available and the three councils are considering the benefits of moving to this low-energy light source,’ says Burn.

The extensive exterior areas include the building entrance and forecourt, the children’s playground and public access. ‘Each of these areas has different lighting criteria that require unique lighting design solutions,’ says Corvaia. ‘Cost and energy efficiency were also significant factors.’

Although the scheme had to comply with the technical requirements for outdoor pedestrian lighting set out in AS 1158, the need to create an inviting and stimulating visual environment was another factor. Although the precinct has low crime, it was important that the lighting eliminated any ‘perceptions of fear’.

The building has won several awards, including the ‘Energy Smart’ category of the 2012 National Awards for Local Government, and commendations from the Illuminating Engineering Society.