Forward Tasmania

Tasmanian projects engineered for sustainability, style

As one of the marketing and communications people at Ai, I don’t get to spend nearly enough time in the field with our customers, so, when given the opportunity to jet to Tasmania and talk to the professionals who worked on a couple new EDGE Architectural projects, I jumped on it. Team EDGE had gotten word that the energy ratings for the U-MAX™ window and door systems used for the UTAS Newnham Apartments project were coming in better than the simulations. We wanted to document it for our technical and communications materials. And since we were going to Tasmania, we thought we’d check out the UTAS IMAS building in Hobart.

Rod Beel, Ai Research & Development Systems Manager, Blake Condon, Ai Documentarian, and I headed to Launceston waaaay too early in the morning on Thursday, 27 February.

The picture of energy efficiency


After a quick stop to fuel up with coffee at the Stillwater Restaurant, we drove to the UTAS Newnham Apartments and met with Andrew Blackberry of Engineering Solutions Tasmania and Wilfred Wyllie of GP Glass. Andrew used a thermal imaging camera from FLIR to show us how he maps the insulative performance of a building. This is an impressive and powerful tool. We could see the thermal performance of the glass, the aluminium frames and the surrounding building materials. Our reflection in the glass even showed on the camera image due to our body temperatures creating radiated heat.

These thermal imaging tools are frequently used to test the energy performance of a building and confirm a project delivers the efficiency the designers planned. Andrew said he’s gone into completed or almost completed projects and documented spots of missed insulation inside walls and such. In those instances, the builder has to pull out the plasterboard, fill in the gaps of insulation, plasterboard again and repaint. This technology is fantastic for arming buyers with information and confirming the energy smart claims of sellers, builders and engineers.

Andrew doesn’t look like a scary guy (and he’s actually super nice), but Rod and I suspect a few people get nervous when they see him walk onto a construction site. Andrew told us he would normally expect the aluminium frame to be hotter than the glass, but the U-MAX™ thermally broken frame tested significantly cooler than the glass. Of course, that’s what they were designed and tested to do, so we weren’t surprised. It was still pretty cool to see it in live and in colour.

The Newnham Apartments are one of the University of Tasmania’s projects in the NRAS initiative and their design, engineering and construction standards reflect the University’s commitment to best practice sustainability. Meeting the specified energy efficiency standards led to GP Glass choosing the U-MAX™ architectural glazing systems for the project. Wilfred worked with Rod, as part of our EDGE Consult service, on the project and was able to provide the builder all the required documentation to demonstrate the frames would perform as needed.

A fabricator’s view

After we wrapped up our visit to Newnham, Rod, Blake and I headed north to Spreyton to meet with Brian Imlach and check out the GP Glass factory. Brian gave us a tour of the office and warehouses and we got to see his team in action. Next, Rod and I sat down for lunch with Brian and Wilfred and Blake captured video and still images for the Newnham Apartments project profile. After lunch, we talked about the expansiveness of the EDGE Architectural systems, the EDGE DNA and the system benefits. Brian and Wilfred offered feedback and made suggestions from their viewpoint. It was a great discussion and time flew by. We left GP Glass and drove about three hours to Hobart. With vistas and views around every corner, the Tasmanian countryside didn’t disappoint. By the time we drove through Richmond, I was in love with the state. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

IMAS on the harbour

Friday morning, after a breakfast that was all about apples, we made our way to the Hobart Harbour and the IMAS building. Deemed “science in the shed” by some, due to the design of the building, IMAS blends perfectly with its surroundings and stands out as completely unique. The glass façade facing the harbour reflects back the colour and energy of surrounding buildings, boats, docks and people.

The structure earned a five star green star rating and the energy efficient EDGE Architectural systems played a role in that. Leigh from CWD Hobart met us about 10:30. He took us on a tour through the structure and talked about his experience with U-MAX™ structurally glazed systems and using 3M VHB tape. “Ninety per cent of the building was done in our factory,” Leigh said. “It made the whole thing really flexible.” This is the first major EDGE Architectural project to embrace the tape. We included 3M in the EDGE ecosystem for many, many reasons (which I’ll go into in detail in the project profile), and believe Tasmania is ahead of the curve and this project is only the beginning.

The entrance of IMAS is impactful with interesting structural elements. Rod worked with the architect to incorporate these into our design. Rod admitted to being sceptical about the vision for these, but took it all back when he saw the finished building. He was quite happy.

After we wrapped up the tour of IMAS, Rod headed to the CWD factory with Leigh, and Blake went to the airport to fly back to Melbourne. I stayed in Hobart with my family through the weekend and took in Mount Wellington, the Museum of Old and New Art, the Tasmania Museum, and more of the awesomeness Tasmania had to offer.

It was deemed a successful trip by all. The people we talked to are on the EDGE of innovation and technology with energy efficient building practices and it’s exciting to be part of that. Oh, for the record, the pictures in this post are mine. I’m certain Blake would be mortified if anyone thought these were his work product. His beautiful images will accompany our formal documentation and project profiles. So, stay tuned.