CASE STUDY: Frenger supporting the pathway towards Net Zero Carbon Buildings

An image of Sustainability

According to the World Green Building Council and in light of the recent COP26 event, building and construction is responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world, with operational emissions (i.e. energy used to heat, cool, and light buildings) accounting for 28%. The remaining 11% comes from embodied carbon emissions, or 'upfront' carbon that is associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole building lifecycle.

80% of existing buildings will still be in use when net zero targets come into effect, so it is crucial designs look to use renewable energy, more energy-efficient systems, lower carbon construction materials etc. Scientists advise that humanity needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 7.2% per year for the next 10 years.

In this case study we will be looking at how Frenger's highly energy-efficient product solutions have and can support the pathway towards Net Zero Carbon Building, whilst looking in-depth at some examples of worldwide sustainable projects which Frenger's product solutions were part of.

International House Sydney

International House is located in Sydney's central business district (CBD) Barangaroo, which is a world leader in innovation and sustainability with the Barangaroo South precinct aiming to be a carbon-neutral community. The six-storey commercial building embodies the statement of being a world leader in innovation and sustainability by incorporating various environmentally sustainable design initiatives such as being the first modern commercially engineered timber building of its size and type in Australia.

International House Sydney

The building, which has a 6 Star Green Star for office design and achieves As Built (v3) rating, uses a combination of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (Glulam) to deliver circa 8,000m² of floor area. CLT and Glulam matches the strength of steel, whilst being far more sustainable, easier to work with on-site, and quieter during on-site construction.

It makes extensive use of the structural engineered and recycled hardwood timber. In fact, around 3,500 cubic metres of sustainably grown and recycled timber were used in construction. Using timber instead of the traditional construction materials more commonly used such as steel and concrete has led to a 60% lower carbon footprint. Additionally, the prefabrication of the timber structure provided a significant reduction in on-site construction time.

Another key sustainable initiative the building uses is the use of our 'Exposed' X-Wing Radiant Passive Chilled Beams to provide energy-efficient cooling whilst maintaining high Thermal Comfort levels for building occupants. The X-Wing's in this project are freely suspended from the timber soffit by wire hangers, which are only required at opposite ends of the units due to the relative light unit weights and yet robust construction.

The 'exposed' installation allowed for 'dematerialisation' by removing a suspended ceiling system, which not only helps to reduce the embodied carbon, but also provides a cost saving over the buildings life (i.e. less maintenance, repair, replacement).

International House Sydney

The X-Wing is manufactured from copper (up to 65% recycled materials) and aluminium and are also 100% recyclable at the end of the long product life that the X-Wing has. The X-Wing is constructed from a single copper sinusoidal coil which is produced in-house at the UK technical facility in Derby using Frenger's state-of-the-art full CNC serpentine bend machine from thousand metre drums of copper to make the coils without any joints whatsoever and to safeguard against the risk of leakage with the product 100% leakage free.

Offering additional flexibility, the X-Wing is available in a variety of different widths and is available in length increments of 80mm from 1 metre to 6 metres. The X-Wing is available in black or white as standard.

The cooling is through a district cooling plant, with the building using Sydney Harbour water for heat rejection leading to further energy consumption savings. Energy usage is offset by the solar energy which is generated on-site. A solar power station is spread across the rooftops of the project. The building also captures and harvest rainwater, with all building initiative helping to achieve the highest level of green building certification from the Green Building Council of Australia.

It has been stated that the physiological and psychological benefits for building occupants of timber interior buildings due to the smell, tactile, and visual stimuli of the timber helps to deliver a more natural and healthier indoor environment. Its feeling and warmth has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, particularly when coupled with the improved indoor air quality provided by our highly efficient X-Wing's and the beautiful aesthetics of the exposed timber.

Designed by multi-awarding architects Alec Tzannes and Johnathan Evans from Tzannes and Associates, International House Sydney has won various awards including;

  • Property Council of Australia - Australian Development of the Year Award 2019
  • World Architecture Festival - Best use of Certified Timber Award 2018
  • AIA National Award for Commercial Architecture 2018
  • Urban Taskforce Development Excellence Award 2018
  • Masters Builders Association - Innovation Award 2018
  • Masters Builders Association - Excellence in Energy Efficiency Award 2018
  • UDIA NSW Award for Excellence in Commercial Development 2018

Ultimately this project acts as a platform to promote a culture of change and to drive sustainable growth through the use sustainable alternatives for industry standard materials as well as the implementation of new innovative initiatives.

To see more images of the International House installation, click the button below.

Daramu House, Barangaroo

Located in Barangaroo, Daramu House is the sister building to the International House project and together they complete the first stage of the Barangaroo South Precinct, with the $6 billion (AUD) development in Barangaroo now having two timber buildings. Another world leader in sustainability and innovation, Daramu House was also given a 6 Star Green Star as-built rating, as well as using 90% sustainably forested Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) throughout the building. This use of timber instead of traditional construction materials such as steel and concrete, lead to a 48% reduction in embodied carbon pollution. In addition, 97% of all construction material on the project was recycled.

Daramu House

The building, circa 10,000m², helps to provide a gradual transition between the three international towers and the adjacent Sussex Street. Daramu Houses helps to celebrate the rich industrial history of the Barangaroo area by re-purposing the timber building typology that dominated the area post European settlement, with the use of timber as the structural component connecting the history of the precinct to its present.

Supplied with Frenger's unique X-Wing® Radiant Passive Chilled Beams, which were installed 'exposed' to compliment the architecture of the building. The building is designed and detailed to maximise the life of the timber so that it is easily maintained, efficiently replaced, and to be a long-term commercial asset for the project, with the timber structure currently the largest in the world for mid-rise commercial projects.

Internally, the office embraces a biophilic design with the Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) left exposed providing warmth to contribute to a healthier workplace for building occupants, as well as reducing stress and anxiety as previously mentioned in this case study.

Completed in 2020, after being proposed in 2017, the project implemented additional initiatives to drive sustainability of the project further by installing over 700m² of solar photovoltaic cells on the roof top providing an on-site 105-kilowatt array to supply power to the precinct. The roof top also featured a growing green roof, as well as bee sanctuaries and a 5000-ton carbon storage system.

Another carbon neutral feature the Daramu House project has implemented is the trial use of on-site insect larvae to process food scraps and the compostable packaging from the retailers and office buildings nearby in the precinct. This is due to food waste and landfill being a massive generator of greenhouse gases. Black solider fly, in its larval stage, is being used to eat through the waste, which is then transformed into fertiliser that can be used by nearby farms or gardens. The Larvae is removed every 12 days, with the well-fed, high protein larvae being used as chicken and fish food.

Inside Daramu House

Insect hotels have also been built among 17,000 plants and flowers on the rooftop, to encourage bees to the area, which therefore improves the air quality and helps to support biodiversity. The overarching aim is to support pollinators because they are extremely important and will help to pollinate the local botanic gardens and parks.

The previously mentioned rooftop plants (growing greens) not only help with the rain water harvesting, but also function to keep the ambient temperature of the rooftop closer to 25 degrees on hot days, which helps to maximise the efficiency of the on-site installed solar panels.

There was a recent study, conducted by the University of Technology Sydney, asking the question "Would surrounding rooftop solar panels with green plants make them more efficient?". The study, which was originally reported by ABC News, found that green roofs make solar panels more efficient.

The two timber buildings (Daramu House and International House) provided perfect opportunity for solar energy researchers to test the potential hypothesis. The experiment procedure was to have one of the rooftops with the conventional photovoltaic solar system with no rooftop growing green, and another with the same solar panel system but this time surrounded by the growing green and foliage. They then compared how much energy the two solar systems generated over the eight-month period.

They found that the solar panel system surrounded by the growing green 'the green roof' had improved performance by as much as 20% at peak times and by 3.6% over the eight-month length of the experiment. On hot days, surface temperature was up to 20 degrees lower on the green roof compared with the standard solar roof with no growing green. Over the course of the eight-month experiment, the roof with the growing green generated an additional $2,595 (AUD) worth of renewable energy.

The green roof absorbed almost nine tonnes of greenhouse gases and during storms the plants soaked up heavy rain, helping to reduce the amount of storm water run-off and decreasing the risk of flash-flooding. As mentioned before in this case study, the green roof leads to better biodiversity, with an increase to insects, birds, and native bees being spotted during the eight-month investigation period.

The study proves that green roofs can have a key role to play in future-proofing cities against the damaging effects of climate change in partnership with locally sourced sustainable materials and energy-efficient HVAC solutions such as the X-Wing® Radiant Passive Chilled Beam supplied to this project by Frenger®.

Frenger's X-Wing® Radiant Passive Chilled Beam (40% Radiant quotient) provides both cooling and excellent indoor climate environment given the radiant proportion of cooling creates no air movement, hence lower spatial air velocities than other cooling solutions, which is essential for building occupants' Wellbeing and performance.

In addition to the previously mentioned method of manufacturing the copper coils so they have no risk of leaks whatsoever, the X-Wing's aluminium radiant “wings” are mechanically bonded providing 100% metal to metal encapsulation with the seamless copper waterways for optimum heat transfer; the aluminium wings can also be removed at the end of the products life to enable 100 percent material recycling of the copper and aluminium at end of life (life expectancy is 30 years plus, dependent upon water quality).

Similarly to its sister building, Daramu House has won multiple awards including;

  • AIA (NSW) Architecture Award for Commercial Architecture 2020
  • Australian Timber Design Award for Commercial Architecture 2020
  • Green Good Design Award Architecture 2021

To see more images of the Daramu House installation, click the button below.

National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC)

Opened in February 2020 by HRH The Prince of Wales, the £150 Million (UKP) national centre is dedicated to advanced automotive research, design, and development. The centre was built to help drive the future of the automotive industry from the heart of the United Kingdom, bringing together the brightest minds from industry and academia backgrounds to develop future vehicles and mobility solutions. The 33,000m² facility is one of the largest automotive research and development centres in Europe.

National Automotive Innovation Centre

The project was awarded the BREEAM 'Excellent' rating for recognition for its environmental, social, and economical performance in driving sustainability. Frenger supplied various products to the building including our Passive Multi-Service Chilled Beams with our Frengerwarm and Modula Radiant Heating Panels.

The centre, which is a culmination of a partnership between University of Warwick Manufacturing Group, Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Motors, is home to 1,000 working staff across design, engineering, and research, as well as future engineers on degree programmes. The building was constructed after the companies within the partnership had identified their existing teams were scattered across the midlands meaning fuel usage of the teams travelling back and forth between the various sites was increasing unsustainably. Bringing the teams together in one central hub solved this fuel usage issue and lead to greater collaboration between researchers.

The National Automotive Innovation Centre features cutting-edge workshops, laboratories, virtual engineering suites, and advanced powertrain facilities to equip their teams with the latest equipment.

The centre was designed from the start to embrace the principles of Sustainability and occupant health and Wellbeing. The offices inside the facility are flooded with natural light, with the main atrium also featuring large amounts of natural light during the day. The building also includes a rooftop photovoltaic array, a regenerative electrical heating system, and one of the world's largest glulam timber roofs.

One of the key sustainable innovations the National Automotive Innovation Centre uses is the use of a bubble deck slab for its foundations. This is a method which significantly reduces the concrete from the middle of a floor slab, which is not performing any structural function, reducing the total upfront carbon and structural dead weight.

Bubble Deck Slabs

Passive Multi-Service Chilled Beams

The Passive Multi-Service Chilled Beams designed and in-house manufactured by Frenger® used on the project allow for various building services to be integrated to create a complete cooling solution. As the cold water passes through the beam, the warm room air is cooled against the beams surfaces. This cooled air, which is heavier due to its higher density, then percolates through the perforated underplate in the beam and percolates through the small ceiling perforations into the room space below. In this way, air is circulated within the room, with the warm air being continually replaced by cool air.

Passive Multi-Service Chilled Beam

Due to the unit having no moving parts, maintenance is therefore minimal, as just periodic cleaning of the cooling surfaces may be required. The Passive Multi-Service Chilled Beam (MSCB) also comes with a life expectancy of 30 years, with lower running costs than traditional air conditioning systems due to high energy efficiency, MSCB units make for an ideal solution.

The National Automotive Innovation Centre has also won various awards including;

  • RIBA National Award 2021
  • RIBA Regional Building of the Year Award 2021
  • RIBA Regional Client of the Year Award 2021
  • RIBA Regional Award 2021
  • Building Awards Project of the Year 2020
  • BCO Regional Award for Innovation 2020
  • BCO National Award for Innovation 2021
  • AIA UK Design Award for Sustainability
  • Wood Awards - Structural Award 2020

University of Washington - Life Sciences Building

Completed in 2018, the University of Washington Life Sciences Building is part of the wider Life Sciences Complex (LSC). The $146 Million (USD) building helps to support all areas of the University of Washington's Biology department, helping them to achieve their mission of promoting leadership in the research and teaching of biology at local, regional, national, and international levels. Frenger supplied their 'Exposed' X-Wing® Radiant Passive Chilled Beams to the Life Sciences Building, which were installed behind sustainably sourced timber slatted ceilings.

University of Washington Life Sciences Building

Offices, laboratories, and common-use spaces inside the seven-floor building are all within close proximity of each other to help cultivate critical relationships between students and other building occupants inside the university. These offices are helped by the first of many innovative initiatives on this project that helped it to achieve LEED Gold criteria - Photovoltaic Shading. The building helps to accommodate the high demand for Biology education at all levels, helping to bring in the next generation of scientists.

Vertical glass fins along the side of the building included embedded photovoltaic cells, which help to shade the windows to keep the building cool, whilst also generating renewable energy without emitting carbon. 100% of the offices are powered by the generated renewable energy.

The building reuses around 28% of its waste water to irrigate the on-site greenhouse plants using a reverse osmosis reclaim system, which captures the waste water from the laboratories into a cistern before it re-treats and re-purposes the water. 10% of the building materials used on this project was locally sourced, with 86% of the construction waste for the project being diverted away from landfills.

The project also uses two main building design ideologies; Biophilic and Ecotone.

An 'Ecotone' design was created due to the region of transition between two biological communities. In this case, it is where the technology behind the science and research comes together with the study of the natural world. The southern exterior represents the technology side of the building, consisting of building materials such as metal, glass, and energy producing solar fins/photovoltaics.

The northern exterior, representing the nature aspect of the Ecotone design, comprises of natural wood, which visually connects the design of the building to the deodar cedars lining the on-site woodland path.

The project's second design ideology, Biophilic Design, helps to reduce stress and improve productivity through the connection of nature, which is part of the goal set by architects to make the building 'the healthiest working and learning environment'.

The use of Frenger's Chilled Beams also helped to achieve this goal, with the installation of Frenger's X-Wing® 40% Radiant Passive Chilled Beams helping to provide the highest levels of Thermal Comfort that puts the health and wellbeing of building occupants at the forefront. As mentioned previously in this case study, the X-Wing® beam is fully recyclable at the end of its long product life due to it being manufactured from copper and aluminium that is easily and cleanly split apart at end of life.

  • AIA COTE Top Ten Award 2021
  • AIA Merit Award 2019
  • Best Projects in Higher Education/Research ENR Northwest 2019
  • Building of the Year Seattle DJC 2018

Why Chilled Beam Technology?

Chilled Beams use clean potable water (i.e. no refrigerants) to provide energy-efficient cooling and heating space conditioning. Chilled Beams can be 'ceiling recessed', 'Exposed' or Multi-Service Chilled Beams (MSCBs) which include LED lighting and other services such as demand control ventilation to provide opportunity to allow fresh air provision to ramp back when CO2 concentrations in the indoor space allow or deactivated for mix mode ventilation when external conditions allow.

Chilled Beams which are 'exposed' allow the soffit to be exposed reducing embodied carbon from buildings construction materials. This also enables designers to make use of the thermal mass of the building to reduce equipment size for peak loads, Furthermore, exposed soffits can reduce repair/refurb or replacement of ceiling component/materials during the life of a building.

MSCBs offer integrated LED lighting to provide a 'plug and play' solution to deliver required lux levels and Uniformity across the working plane and provide a holistic design with exposed soffits. They can also accommodate other building services such as sensors for smart building functions, sprinkler heads, PA/VA, smoke detectors etc. MSCB units are 100% prefabricated in a controlled environment (at our UK technical facility in Derby) which enables excellent integration of services and reduces installation time on-site.

All products are made to order (MTO), which can help keep waste to a minimum during manufacturing phase. Product materials can easily be separated and recycled at the end of product life (which is in excess of 25 years).

Other Considerations - NABER UK Launched

The recent launch of NABERS UK as a new scheme for measuring the energy efficiency of offices to create better transparency in the market will further help to tackle the performance gap between theoretical design and verified performance when the building is occupied, based on measurable performance outcomes, to ensure new office developments deliver on their design intent.

This new rating system can be used to demonstrate whether offices are on a Net Zero Carbon trajectory and provide investors and occupiers with the confidence that the buildings they own and occupy are aligned with their climate change ambitions. The Daramu House, Barangaroo project example presented earlier is an example of a 5-Star plus NABERS energy rating and a 6 Green Star - as Design and Built rating from the GBCA.

Other Considerations - UK Government Recognition

The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Carbon Trust has also acknowledged that chilled beams can have both lower operational costs and a longer lifetime than conventional space cooling systems. This is also supported by previous independent study commissioned by the CBCA (Chilled Beam & Ceiling Association) and carried out by Environment Design Solutions Ltd (EDSL) which confirmed a significant energy-saving benefit over alternative technologies.

Click the link to see the full report on the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) website.

Other Considerations - WELL Building Standards

The WELL building standard is the first building standard which focuses exclusively on human health and wellness, marrying best practises in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research, harnessing the built environment as a vehicle to support human health and wellbeing.

Spaces can become WELL Certified by achieving a defined score in each of ten categories:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Movement
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Sound
  • Materials
  • Mind
  • Community

Our Chilled Beam technology provides:

  • Good Indoor Air Quality/Ventilation
  • MSCB solutions deliver good lit indoor environment
  • High Thermal Comfort Levels
  • Low Noise Levels
  • Do not contain hazardous materials/fluids
  • Long product life cycle
  • Product materials can be recycled at end of life
  • Innovation

MSCB solutions offer a fully integrated design that provide good lighting levels and well as being able to incorporate other building services/sensors. All of the above are important factors for occupant health and wellbeing.

In conclusion, our case study shows that projects that have already utilised our Chilled Beam technology have already achieved Net Zero Carbon in operation, whilst still providing the highest levels in Thermal Comfort to prioritise the Health and Wellbeing for building occupants and 'WELL' Building Standards.

Therefore, designing and delivering buildings today that utilise energy-efficient systems such as Chilled Beam technology along with changes such as timber construction materials and other carbon neutral features, as discussed earlier in this case study such as bubble deck slabs or bee and solar farms, can help contribute more effectively to a lower carbon and more sustainable future around the world.

You can learn more about the products Frenger® has to offer by visiting our products page or read more articles about the international projects Frenger® has supplied on our latest news page. Alternatively, you can contact our Office on 61 2 9006 1147 or