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Siemens modernises locations of Australia’s largest museum organisation ensuring history doesn’t fade into the past

 

Museums Victoria in Melbourne, the largest public museum organisation in Australia, attracts approximately 2.5 million visitors each year. Now it’s six locations are getting fit for the future. The government of the State of Victoria commissioned Siemens to perform a total upgrade of the building management, lighting, water and cooling systems of the Museums Victoria properties.

The heart of the museum organisation is the Melbourne Museum – at 80,000 m2 the largest museum in the southern hemisphere. Among the many exhibits, one attraction stands out: the Forest Gallery, a carefully monitored environment where countless rainforest plants and wildlife make their home. A stream flowing through the exhibit is home to fresh-water fish and crayfish. Other Museums Victoria venues include the Royal Exhibition Building, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1880, Scienceworks as well as the Immigration Museum. The four exhibit properties and the two climate-controlled storage facilities of Museums Victoria house a grand total of 17 million objects.

Efficiency program for government buildings

The museum organisation falls under the auspices of the government of the southern Australian state of Victoria. Its Greener Government Buildings project pursues a green strategy to improve energy efficiency in existing government buildings as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this program, a call for tenders was issued for Museums Victoria. Siemens conducted an extensive facility study and used that as the basis to develop an appropriate plan of measures. The concept was well received, and the government of Victoria signed an energy performance contract with Siemens. Under the agreement, the Victorian Government financed the up-front cost of the $A11 million energy contract. Energy savings targeted over the seven-year contract period will pay for the investment.

The success of the modernisation concept is already tangible: Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have fallen by 35 percent. Siemens anticipates a savings of 4,590 tons of CO2 by the end of the contract term. Water consumption dropped by six percent. In addition, the cost of utilities fell by 32 percent, an amount equivalent to the electricity consumption of 1,264 average households per year.

3,000 data points for the building management system

The savings are the result of a full range of complementary measures. The building management system at the Melbourne Museum was upgraded to the Desigo CC building management platform supporting 3,000 data points. It consolidates the various building disciplines, which can be visualised and controlled via a user interface.

The building management platform can integrate some or all disciplines ranging from building automation (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) to security and fire safety to lighting. The Melbourne Museum can continue to utilise previously upgraded systems and, using Desigo CC, integrate them into a uniform platform. Given the high volume of visitors and the extreme heat of the Australian summer, the building management platform has ample opportunity to live up to its full potential.

Cloud-based energy and sustainability platform opens up new perspectives

As part of the energy performance contract, Siemens also installed the Navigator energy and sustainability platform, which is based on Siemens’ open industry cloud, MindSphere. As the only integrated cloud-based platform, Navigator offers powerful analysis and reporting features. Valuable information supplied by sensors, actuators and other devices no longer goes unused. The customisable, scalable and user-friendly software enables intelligent analysis of the massive amounts of data and generates linked and meaningful key performance indicators in real time. This is the basis for displaying and generating detailed trends, reports and evaluations for utility bill management and CO2 reporting.

The data collected by Museums Victoria’s Navigator platform is sent to Siemens where teams of engineers continually review it to further optimise energy consumption. Navigator allows proven services that used to be the purview of onsite management to be combined with remote services. For example, the system checks devices for deteriorating efficiency, so many problems can be diagnosed and eliminated quickly through remote access.

Saving water using a holistic approach

Measures to reduce water consumption were implemented in all the buildings of the museum organisation. At the Immigration Museum, Siemens replaced an outdated air-cooled water cooling system with a high-efficiency cooler using magnetic bearings. At the Melbourne Museum, the Demand Flow solution was deployed.

Demand Flow is a holistic approach to optimise the chilled water system. The solution manages the chiller plants using special control algorithms that require conversion of constant-speed condenser pumps, chilled water pumps and cooling tower fans to variable speeds. Variable speed drives enable the Demand Flow algorithms to maintain the optimal differential pressure. This reduces the excessive energy consumption of the pumps, reduces device runtime and boosts the performance of systems with a low cooling effect. The Demand Flow controller automatically optimises all plant functions. The system is accessed via the Navigator service platform. Navigator handles data accumulation, generates energy profiles, and displays detailed equipment operating parameters.

In terms of lighting, optimisation in the six buildings is proceeding at full speed. The existing lighting at all locations is being replaced with LED lights. Manually switched areas are being equipped with automatic, presence-dependent controls.

Conclusion

Buildings today account for 40 percent of worldwide energy consumption and most of the CO2 emissions. In addition, operating costs comprise 71 percent of a building’s total cost of ownership, with approximately 30 percent of that going toward energy costs. For this reason, investment in comprehensive building technology modernisation makes sense – in terms of both the environment and costs, as exemplified by Museums Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Coordinated measures and innovative solutions like the Navigator energy and sustainability platform lead to substantial energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

The story of this building and project can be seen on video here: This building stops time: Melbourne Museum

For further information on the Building Technologies Division, please see: www.siemens.com/buildingtechnologies

Image shows the entrance to the Melbourne Museum

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Digital Editor for MDM Publishing Ltd