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Air tightness testing at Lot Fourteen maps precinct history and future

by Jessica Allen, Business Manager at SUHO. 21 July, 2021

SUHO have been performing air tightness testing at Lot Fourteen since 2018, to help inform building renovations. These kinds of tests use a big fan (blower) in a doorway and creating a pressure differential to discover air leakage. A ‘leaky’ building uses more energy for heating or cooling. A more air-tight building requires less energy to heat and cool, therefore creating fewer carbon emissions and is also typically more comfortable for occupants.

Lot Fourteen is a curated precinct of talented entrepreneurs, startups, incubators, scaleups, global companies, world-class researchers and leading government organisations solving global problems, however, in a previous life it was the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Originally built in 1840, the buildings are thermally massive with traditional timber roof construction and single glazing throughout.

There are dozens of high-level vents dotted throughout the buildings; this was the construction methodology of the day, and although built to last, this feature does not assist with air tightness. Over the 175 years of its operation, there have been many alterations and additions, mechanical equipment added, and the general aging of the building, creating many more air leakage pathways.

SUHO were initially engaged to perform pre-construction testing on the "Women's Health Centre" building to identify air leakage pathways in the building that could be rectified during the renovation. Over the last 3.5 years, SUHO have returned to complete air tightness testing on the Marnirni-apinthi Building (formerly the Allied Health Building), McEwin Building and Bice Building.

The testing is to help achieve Green Star certification - a voluntary sustainability rating system for buildings, fit outs, and communities. In 2019, the Lot Fourteen innovation precinct was awarded a 6-Star Green Star - Communities rating and has been recognised by the Green Building Council as world-leading in urban redevelopment. Individual buildings in the precinct are also targeting a 6-star Green Star rating as they are renovated or constructed. This means that there will be a more comfortable environment and lower energy bills for tenants.

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Refurbished Bice Building, exterior, June 2021

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Refurbished Bice Building, interior, June 2021

After completion of this final test, it began to dawn on me what a privilege it was to be involved in this incredible project of regeneration and renovation of the heritage buildings as they are getting ready for new life. My colleagues and I were lucky enough to see the inside of the empty shell before any work was done.

We were allowed to walk down the empty halls, we saw the original lift cage and the ancient lift mechanism, we saw medical equipment such as a steel bath and a chair that we believe was hydrotherapy equipment but looked more like torture devices! There is so much history in these buildings - and now so many exciting things shaping our future happening within the same walls.

The precinct is already providing workspace for more than 1200 people and is expected to accommodate up to 6,000 when construction is complete in 2028. Starting with the buildings, we look forwards to the hi-tech careers coming to work at Lot Fourteen also playing their part towards a Carbon Neutral Adelaide.

See latest news from Lot Fourteen, or information about tenancies.

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Bice Building in the morning sky, testing day 2021

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Allied Health Building, April 2018, prior to refurbishment

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Amber Pascoe adjusting the gauge, Allied Health Building test day September 2019

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Lift control panel, (building unknown) April 2018, prior to refurbishment

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Old Royal Adelaide Hospital, April 2018, prior to refurbishment

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Old Royal Adelaide Hospital, April 2018, prior to refurbishment