Australia Prepares to Pumped Hydro



Pumped hydro involves using surplus energy to pump water uphill to a storage reservoir. The water can then be released downhill to generate electricity on demand.


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has told Malcolm Turnbull pumped hydro could be the key to unlocking "cost-effective large-scale energy storage that can stabilise high levels of renewable energy in the national electricity grid", such as in South Australia.


"Pumped hydro is the only mature, bankable technology that is readily available at scale," ARENA chief Ivor Frischknecht said.


"However, the lead times are long. Most PHES projects take between four to seven years to develop and construct with the majority of cost associated with civil engineering and construction."


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by Justin McGar | SOURCEABLE

WELL Ratings the Next Big Evolution in Buildings



There’s no question buildings affect our health, and WELL ratings help to ensure they improve occupants’ well-being and boost productivity.


Around Australia, the solution many office workers use to combat ‘tiredness’ in the middle of the afternoon revolves around a latte from their favourite coffee shop.


Less common are thoughts about better access to daylight, better ventilation and better thermal comfort. More broadly, whilst considerable effort has gone into improving the performance of buildings from a sustainability perspective, less attention has been given to building design from a standpoint of human health.


Yet the importance of buildings in health outcomes cannot be underestimated. In cardiovascular health, for example, the elimination of environmental pollutants such as tobacco and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) helps to avoid damage to the heart and vessels. In the immune system, use of non-toxic chemicals limits the exposure to chemicals which weaken immune function whilst water and air-filtration systems limit exposure to bacterial and viral pathogens and allergies.


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by Andrew Heaton | SOURCEABLE

4 Key Factors Shaping Australian Healthcare Construction



Healthcare service delivery is a fascinating and challenging industry. It is driven by many variables such as a growing population, ageing demographic, frequently changing Medicare reimbursement and other co-funding models as well as a fast pace of technological advancements in medicine and medical devices.


In light of this, construction of hospitals, medical precincts and facilities has never been more challenging. Capital project administrators, architects and construction professionals should play an important role in a necessary shift in thinking about the healthcare infrastructure and project delivery.


Less than a decade ago, the forces and motivations shaping this process were simpler:


- Regulators needed to provide adequate service for constituents

- Hospital administrators needed to ensure efficient patient flow and top patient care

- Construction groups needed to deliver projects on-time, on-budget based on agreed construction plans


The reason why this stopped working is multi-faceted. Firstly, healthcare services provision needs have evolved from turnover based to outcome based. Secondly, technological advancements in medicine and medical equipment has been much faster than advancements in construction methodologies, project planning and data and evidence driven forecasting.


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by Rob Maroszek | SOURCEABLE

Greenery is the 2017 Colour of the Year



“Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.” – Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute


The Pantone Color Institute recently announced Greenery as the 2017 Colour of the Year. The Institute describes Greenery as “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”


Over the past five years, we have seen an increasing proliferation of plants in our urban environment with communal vegetable and herb gardens becoming commonplace, foliage spilling from multi-story buildings and green walls surprising us in unexpected places. In interiors, we’ve seen the resurgence of indoor plants and green walls as features in the commercial interior landscape.


The more we become immersed in modern life and our high-tech world, it seems the more we crave contact with the natural world.


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by Judith Briggs | SOURCEABLE

Making Wood Last with Fire, Not Paint: A Japanese Technique

japan wood charring


Shou Sugi Ban 焼杉板 (or Yakisugi) is an ancient Japanese exterior siding technique that preserves wood by charring it with fire. Traditionally, Sugi wood (cryptomeria japonica L.f., also called Japanese cedar) was used. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil.


Today Shou Sugi Ban is an environmentally friendly way to preserve timber and (paradoxically) make it fire-resistant. Chemical preservatives, paints, and retardants are therefore unnecessary. In addition to exterior uses, the popular technique is now found in interior rooms, furniture, and artwork.


It is still a popular tradition in the Okayama Prefecture of Japan. Nowadays, designers and architects use other species of wood like western red cedar, douglas fir, cyprus, pine and oak. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil. Although time consuming, the final product is not only gorgeous, with its rich, silvery finish; the charred wood also resists fire, rot, insects, and can last up to 80 years.


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