The Landing Resort Development, a new $150 million, 650 room resort in Port Hedland, Western Australia, has high aspirations. It aims to be a carbon neutral precinct as well as a complete wastewater recycling gateway to the Pilbara region.

Anthony Marklund, Associate Director of national engineering and sustainability consultancy Umow Lai, and member of the development project team, says that the innovative building and sustainable techniques that will be used are designed to achieve carbon neutrality and to save water.

As part of their commission, Umow Lai is assisting the principal design architect, Noel Robinson Architects, to optimize the passive design and material selection of the buildings.

“Getting the architecture to perform well from a thermal efficiency and embodied carbon perspective is one of the top priorities when aiming to achieve a cost effective carbon neutral design approach,” Anthony says.

“The other top priority is the integrated building services approach. Having the architecture and services right helps minimize the vital final piece of the carbon neutral jigsaw puzzle – onsite renewable energy sources. Though costly, these are required to offset the operational and embodied carbon.”

Extensive modular prefabrication construction techniques are being used to deliver the project to a challenging program, while optimizing opportunity for improved ‘factory’ quality and construction health and safety.

Stages 1 and 2 of the resort are being built in Thailand and Melbourne respectively. They will be shipped to Port Hedland, trucked to site and assembled with a minimum of material wastage and site operatives. This has particular benefits in Port Hedland, which along with the rest of the Pilbara, is facing a skilled labour shortage due to the resources boom.

The hotel rooms will be air-conditioned by active chilled beams fed by 100% outside air systems with total heat recovery.

In what will be the first application of this kind in Australia, active chilled beam technology will be introduced. Until now, it has only been used in hotels in northern Europe with benefits of reduced air conditioning energy and improved indoor environment quality. Anthony Marklund says that the beams are quiet, have no moving parts and operate with a dry cooling coil. By reducing sources of moisture, they also have an additional benefit of reducing risk of toxic mould forming in air conditioning systems.

This is particularly important in the mining industry where toxic mould in air conditioning systems has recently become a significant occupational health and safety concern. Air handling unit coils are intended to be treated with anticorrosion and antifungal protectant to aid further. In order to ensure the active chilled beams operate as intended, the rooms are specified to high air tightness and are moisture proofed with factory and onsite testing of air permeability and thermal imaging proposed for quality control. Any condensate formed will be captured and recycled.

“Among the primary environmentally sustainable design initiatives being planned for the Landing Resort are a total wastewater treatment and recycling system with funding from Water Corporation,” Anthony explains.

“Other big ticket Environmentally Sustainable Design initiatives include the use of Building Integrated Photovoltaic panels to generate electricity directly from the sun; a central energy facility with biofuel trigeneration systems for annual site cooling, heating and power demands and chilled water thermal storage.

“Investigations are also underway in Port Hedland to prove up the feasibility of harnessing wind energy. Wind turbines being considered for an adjacent site would need to be engineered to withstand cyclone conditions.”

Umow Lai has been engaged to provide Sustainability and Mechanical Engineering Services Infrastructure design. Being their first project in the Pilbara, it is not without its challenges.

Anthony spoke about some other challenges that need to be met.

“The site is remote and has no natural gas main, and there are other limitations to authority infrastructure. For example, the water supply quantity to the site is annually capped and as there is no authority sewage infrastructure, the site simply has to minimise potable water use and recycle and use all wastewater on site. The development approval requires that all site stormwater must also all be retained on site by use of leading water sensitive urban design.

“This is our largest project to target carbon neutral. It means there will be a heavy reliance on the ability to integrate sufficient renewable energy sources on site and to export excess renewable energy to Horizon Power with the grid acting as an energy store. Available energy storage technologies currently have relatively poor viability for a commercial project of this scale. (While initial technical feasibility for grid export has been confirmed by a Horizon Power electricity network impact study, satisfactory biomass and grid-tie commercial terms resolution is required to validate feasibility).

The Landing Resort, located opposite Port Hedland’s international Airport, is expected to cater for both tourists and professionals associated with the resources industry.

Umow Lai, appointed by the Perth-based Centauri Group, is working closely with the project team. Members include Noel Robinson Architects, Wood and Grieve and Cardno.

Development of renewable energy infrastructure is part of Centauri’s mission statement.

Anthony Marklund says this has given Umow Lai a strong mandate to look beyond the project’s sustainability brief, towards delivering perhaps the world’s first carbon negative resort. “If this is realised, the project will effectively act as a carbon sink by exporting more renewable energy than fossil fuel energy consumed during construction and operation. The sustainability goals being aimed for also include waste minimization, eco-bus commuter transport and engagement with the local indigenous community,” he concluded.

Anthony Marklund spoke about the Landing Resort project at the 4th International Urban Development conference on the Gold Coast last September.

Umow Lai is a national, Australian-owned building services and sustainability consultancy. It employs over 130 staff in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and has associate offices in Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Hong Kong and Vietnam. The firm is a member of the Green Building Council of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and a Founding Member ceremony of the China Green Building Council, one of only 14 foreign founding member firms. Anthony Marklund is based in their Brisbane office and can be contacted about The Landing Resort project on 07 3210 1800.