The Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre will include a carbon neutral, renewable energy powered aquatic centre in western Melbourne.
Municipal aquatic centres are the highest energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting facilities managed by councils. Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) is typically the largest component of energy use at these sites, which have historically relied upon both electricity and natural gas as fuel sources.
Brimbank City Council, along with many other councils across Australia, are adopting commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2030 or sooner. Under these commitments, the use of natural gas and fossil-fuel sourced power to run council facilities is no longer tenable.
To transition away from gas, councils are looking to convert their facilities to an ‘all-electric’ equipment model, which can use greater amounts of on-site renewable energy and source any residual power needs from off-site renewable energy facilities (through power purchase agreements).
The main all-electric alternative to gas heating in aquatic centres is heat-pump technology. This technology can provide both heating and cooling. Heat pump use in cooler climates (such as Victoria and Tasmania) has been technically challenging during cooler months when the performance of air-source heat pumps decline.
The project will overcome the design challenge by deploying a 100 percent renewable energy powered whole-of-facility heating and cooling system, underpinned by a 4 pipe (water:water) heat pump coupled with a thermal energy storage system. Onsite rooftop solar PV (500kW) will be installed and supplementary grid electricity will be sourced via a renewable energy power purchase agreement.
During periods of solar PV generation, the heat pump system will operate to provide the facility’s heating and cooling needs and deliver thermal energy to the thermal storage system when excess solar generation is available. This optimises the heat pump system’s performance when operating and reduces inefficient use outside of PV generation periods.
The aquatic centre aims to be one of the first zero emissions aquatic centres in Australia without the use of carbon offsets. The project is on track to be built to 6 Star Green Star standard (considered a world-leading development) with a minimum of 5 Star Green Star accreditation (considered Australian excellence).
This project will be part of the larger build of the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre, which is a $60 million-plus development project. The state-of-the-art centre will feature a 50 metre, 10 lane swimming pool, two massive water slides, wellness centre, 24 hour gym, community program room and more.
The project is expected to represent a significant milestone in the advancement of all-electric aquatic centres, and buildings more generally. The project team will undertake a variety of knowledge sharing activities to promote the environmental and economic benefits of gas-alternative technologies in aquatic centres, including a post-occupancy evaluation, site tours and conference presentations.