Akiraho Street April 2008 (C) GREENPEACE / TAYLOR
We're cleaning out the inside of the building - lots of dirty work but we've had lots of good keen volunteers down to help so we're making good progress and it's not costing too much.
Primarily the building was chosen because of it's proximity to Mt Eden Railway station (right next door), proximity to major bus routes, several on Mt Eden Rd as well as Symonds st and finally as the CBD, very close. Size was also a factor. Greenpeace NZ has grown in size over the last 10 years and continues to do so. The new building offers enough space to combine the functions of the campaigning and operational arms of the organisation and leaves a bit of room to move.
One of the best things about refitting an old building like this is that it gives us a blank slate to work with. We're now in the happy position of being able to do some ECO innovation that was either infeasible or just plain impossible in our old rented space in Valley Road.
Here's some of the things we're trying to fit into the budget.
Solar hot water
There's no point wasting money on electrical bills when we can heat water directly from the sun. Water heating is one of the most intensive power uses in most homes. If more homes had solar hot water heaters installed, power shortages in this country could be a thing of the past.
This is a big one - but important too. We need to do this to increase the thermal value of the office space especially in winter but also to assist cutting down heat gain in the summer. It will not only enhance the working environment but will also keep down heating and cooling costs saving us money and reducing our carbon footprint.
We're going to retrofit the building with wool insulation in the walls and ceiling. We've chosen to use wool (possibly a wool/polyester mix as this contributes well to acoustic performance) because it is the most sustainable and toxic free insulation on the market. Again this will increase the thermal value of the workspace in the winter and help cool in summer. It will also assist in keeping roof noise down in the workspace during big storms.
In the final fitout and in an effort to keep the amount of solvents used (even acrylic paints have their share) to an absolute minimum we will use paints which use naturally occurring pigments rather than chemicals.
Sectioned, zoned and automated lighting
This is a big cost - about $13,000 and we've approached Philips to do this as they seem to have the best range of low wattage products that will keep our power use to a minimum. Also a feature would be zoned and automated lighting which will also help keep our power use down.
Skylights (windows in the roof) will increase natural light in the workplace but also provide passive solar value in heating the concrete slab in the winter - again increasing the thermal value of the building.
Passive airflow venting
Again this will enhance the thermal value in the workspace and help cut down the need for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer especially. Also important to ensure that we have good fresh air for our staff and to ensure that the air changes in the building on a regular basis.
Removal of existing power transformer
The building currently has a large Vector transformer on site which supplies three phase power to the building. It is non compliant and to keep it on site would require extensive fire protection and the age of the transformer suggests it may be a PCB contamination risk. It's gotta go.
Louvers for the office area and the common room will cut down glare and heat on sunny days deceasing the need for any air conditioning. They'll be angled to deflect the sun i summer and allow it through in winter.
Storage and use of rainwater
We will collect water from the roof to use for watering the garden, hot water and possibly drinking water (although Auckland City council may have something to say about the latter).
Recycled building materials
We'll be using second hand building materials where ever possible and where budget permits.
As the office is a large open plan we need to ensure we do as much as possible to dampen sound within the space so we are looking at acoustically dampening ceiling products and partitions to.
Solar PV power generation
We will install the system we currently have but it is not big and we could certainly use more solar paneling to increase our capacity to provide power for ourselves. We will future proof the building enough to incorporate addition solar PV.
Voip phone system
We'll be using 'Voice over IP' phones (VOIP) which will decrease our phone bill dramatically, but also decrease remarkably the amount of PVC cabling we will need to use.