Universities lead the way in building energy-efficient infrastructure for a net zero future

May 17, 2024

Across the nation, universities are at the forefront of designing and implementing low energy buildings.

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Australia’s path to net zero emissions by 2050 is being paved with the development of energy-efficient infrastructure. Across the nation, universities are at the forefront of designing and implementing sustainable building practices. Energy-efficient buildings are an important component of the net zero transition.

“Materials and design are critical as we move towards low-energy buildings,” says Dr Mark Dewsbury, senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania.

Dewsbury studies the hygrothermal performance of buildings, with a guiding motto of “build tight, ventilate right.”

Hygro refers to moisture, while thermal pertains to heat flow throughout the building envelope and how that envelope is designed relative to climate.

He notes that vented cavities behind cladding systems remove heat for improved cooling and allow water vapour to escape, reducing the risk of mould growth. When it comes to heating, placing insulation directly behind lining systems avoids losing heat. 

These findings inform recommendations for the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, and published guides for architects and builders. Recycling of building materials will play another role. Concrete, for example, requires energy to mine, mix and transport but can be reused from demolished building sites instead.

“We need to be designing and constructing net zero buildings today so we meet our net zero goals by 2050,” says Dewsbury.

Rina Caballar

First published in Australian University Science, Issue 11

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