Energy Optimisation – La Trobe University

The competitive education market has prompted Universities to aim to achieve net zero emissions targets. La Trobe University was one of the first universities to publicly announce a 2029 Net Zero strategy in 2019, focusing on reducing active emissions, alongside implementing offsets where natural gas consumption remains necessary.

La Trobe University engaged The Bridgeford Group to perform a Level 2 style energy audit of the Physical Sciences 2 (PS2) facility with the aim of supporting La Trobe University’s Net-Zero Emissions goal by 2029. The scope of work analysed current and historical energy consumption and offered a comprehensive list of solutions to maximize savings. PS2 is one of the oldest buildings in La Trobe campus, making it also likely to be one of the least efficient buildings in operation. Solutions for this project were developed to ultimately improve the building’s energy efficiency and minimize solution costs while preserving historically important architectural elements of the building.

Solutions for this project were developed based on the following methodologies:

  • Reduce – Reduce consumption via Energy Efficiency
  • Electrify – Reduce reliance upon natural gas with a transition to electric only energy sources
  • Store – Storage of energy to combat “time of use vs. time of generation”

Through Bridgeford Group’s engineering and design analysis, tailored solutions to different systems were developed while ensuring that the facility remains fully operational:

  • Heating Systems: Variable speed drives (VSDs) are installed on the HHW pumps, enabling the systems to be adjusted to a lower pump speed to achieve reduction in energy consumption. Demand based variable pumping strategy is also incorporated to further aid energy savings
  • Controls and Equipment: Occupancy sensors are installed to reduce operational run time, improving energy efficiency without the need to replace the BMS
  • Lightings: A 100% conversion of fluorescent lighting to LED, improving energy efficiency and lifetime of the fittings
  • Air Handling Unit (AHU): Installation of VSD, economy cycle dampers and VAV diffusers for flexible and efficient regulation of airflow
  • Cooling Systems: Replacement of chillers with higher efficiency systems, connecting four buildings in a CHW precinct, removing reliance upon HTHHW system, and thus natural gas
  • DHW Calorifier: Electrify DHW systems, replacing calorifier with heat pump to remove reliance on natural gas

Alongside the series of comprehensive energy optimisation solutions as provided above, The Bridgeford Group also provided additional recommendations for La Trobe University to consider, including upgrading the building automation controls due to the existing system being past its end of life, and investigating a campus wide dispatchable energy strategy that will allow new thermal assets to be controlled and interlinked with existing onsite generation and future electrical storage.

The recommendations are expected to deliver 60% energy savings and emissions savings of 484tCO2 per annum, which helps La Trobe University to take a big step further in achieving its sustainability aspirations.

This project involved collaboration with carbon neutral strategists with the intent of facilitating La Trobe University’s Net-Zero Emissions goal by 2029, supported by Bridgeford Group’s comprehensive experience achieving carbon