Australia is revitalizing an entire district around sustainable, low-carbon energy with a groundbreaking new power station. Designed by Peter Hogg + Toby Reed Architects, the Precinct Energy Project is the country's first-ever co-generation plant, and it supplies a 17-acre development with electricity and heating without a heavy carbon footprint. The new plant could reduce carbon emissions by 396,000 tons over the next 20 years while producing up to 6 megawatts of energy each year.
The Precinct Energy Project (PEP) is part of urban renewal authority Places Victoria and Cogent Energy’s plans for revitalizing the Dandenong city center. By using a single-source fuel, like natural gas, the co-generation power station can deliver lower-carbon electricity and thermal heating and cooling. The combined heat and power system produces less than half the carbon emissions of a coal-fired station and twice the efficiency of a typical gas-fired power station. The flagship, energy-efficient station is the first in Australia to service multiple building types, providing immediate and long-term economic and environmental benefits to Dandenong.
In order to attract the public’s eye and provoke discussion about society’s power consumption, PHTR architects designed the sculptural co-generation power plant with a series of images that soften the steel and concrete facade. A unique Rorschach ink blot constructed from perforated aluminum panels is splashed onto the exterior to encourage free association; a circuit lighting display and giant co-generation wall diagram educates the public about energy production; and a removable astro-turf wall with a big “power” switch adds a sense of whimsy. A moving dot matrix display at the front canopy provides dynamic information about the PEP’s power production, consumption and green house gas savings.