Green Transfer: 1200 Buildings Public Art Commission
Feb 04 2019
The Green Transfer is an innovative artwork and building design feature located on the street-facing façade at 490 Spencer Street, West Melbourne.
Part of the 1200 Buildings project, The Green Transfer is the winning artwork commission from a series of 11 proposals for a sustainability-themed public artwork, commissioned by the City of Melbourne in partnership with Positive Energy Places and Fort Knox Self Storage.
Each day, The Green Transfer artwork displays a graphic that relates to energy efficiency, reducing our environmental footprint or the impact of climate change. The intention is to explain the environmental performance of the building.
On Mondays, the artwork will display a star, reflecting the NABERS star rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings. This building consistently maintains a six star rating.
The ‘close-the-loop’ symbol illustrates the concept of renewable energy and shows one of the ways in which the building maintains its six star rating.
The ‘on/off’ symbol depicts one of the ways in which the building maintains its six star rating – by ensuring sources of energy are switched off at all times when not in use.
The acronym ‘LED’ symbol related to the use of Light Emitting Diodes as a key part of saving energy in lighting the building, another way in which the building maintains its six star rating.
On Fridays, the artwork will show either an ‘up’ or ‘down’ arrow, illustrating whether the building’s energy output is up or down that week against its own average weekly energy output. More often than not, you will see the arrow pointing up.
On weekends, the artwork will show a weather-related symbol such as a hot sun or clouds. This considers the way that the weather affects the building’s environmental performance and how these elements affect the way the building achieves, or even exceeds, ‘zero carbon status’.
About The Green Transfer artwork
The Green Transfer is an automated, operable facade that delivers information about the environmental quality and performance of the building on which it is located at 490 Spencer Street, West Melbourne.
The installation features an aluminium frame upon which a grid made from 200 recycled road signs is arranged to form 540 moving pixels. Each Friday, the pixels use building performance data to create a visible pattern that reflects the energy consumption of the building. Over the course of the week, the array will explain how it maintains and often exceeds zero carbon status.
The piece is powered by electricity supplied from 117 photovoltaic (solar) panels located atop the building’s roof that allow the low voltage installation to operate without detrimentally affecting the building’s energy consumption.
A dynamic experience of the built environment, The Green Transfer makes visible the invisible functions of a sustainable building.
Location of the artwork
The Positive Energy Places building, an early participant in the City of Melbourne’s 1200 Buildings Program, is an industry leader in sustainability, using less energy and water than most other Australian office buildings both large and small. Retrofitted to reduce reliance on “black” electricity, the building generates its own electricity from a large array of solar photovoltaic cells located on the roof. Energy efficiency combined with renewable energy generation results in the building achieving and often exceeding “zero carbon” status.
History of the 1200 Buildings Public Art Commission
The City of Melbourne’s 1200 Buildings Program, aims to highlight the positive impact to the environment and businesses of retrofitting 1200 buildings within the municipality. Commercial buildings in the Melbourne generate over 50 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and retrofitting can make a significant contribution to meeting the City of Melbourne’s target of carbon neutrality by 2020.
Since 2010, the savvy owners of more than 540 commercial office buildings in Melbourne have been retrofitted to improve energy and water efficiency. Tuning and retrofitting commercial buildings to improve operational efficiency makes good business sense, improves staff productivity and reduces a building’s contribution to global warming.
On being approached by the owner of the Positive Energy Places building at 490 Spencer Street in West Melbourne, an early participant in the city’s 1200 Buildings program, the 1200 Buildings Public Art Commission was developed as a public art project that responds to the energy and sustainability performance of the building.
The objective of the commission was to run an art competition to develop a concept that highlighted the hidden but superior nature of the building’s sustainability functions – to make the invisible functions of a sustainable building visible.
The eleven Public Art Commission proposals came from diverse sources including practitioners in design, conceptual art, computer gaming, landscape architecture and infomatics.
Find out more about the retrofit Positive Energy Places at 490 Spencer Street
City of Melbourne Public Art Program - Major Sponsor
AustEng - Manufacturer
Synergetics - Building Owner and Project sponsor
The Green Transfer is an innovative art mosaic located at 490 Spencer Street. The piece comprises of an automated, operable facade that delivers rudimental information about the environmental quality and performance of the building. Moving away from the appeal of digital screens and dashboards, the installation crosses building performance information with analog technology for an engaging dynamic experience of the built environment.
Exemplifying innovation in its use of recycled materials, the installation features an aluminium frame made up of 200 ‘flexing’ recycled road signs that have been cut and arranged to form 540 moving pixels. The signs themselves are designed with the intention of drawing attention from the Spencer Street vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
200 'flexing' recycled road signs
540 moving pixels
490 Spencer Street is a highly energy efficient building and is an annual net exporter of energy and hence why it was selected by the City of Melbourne Arts Programme to show case its green credentials. 490 Spencer St is equipped with large photovoltaic panels located atop the building’s roof, the building is a net positive exporter of energy and the low voltage installation is designed to operate without detrimentally effecting the buildings energy consumption. The piece is powered by low voltage electricity powered from the building.
The technology behind the Green Transfer is experimental in nature as the piece is controlled and operated by ‘hobby’ standard mechanical and electrical components used on an industrial scale. Beyond its architectural function, The Green Transfer is a platform for community excitement. By displaying information about the environmental and social performance of the building, it makes visible to the community what is otherwise invisible. Socialising environmental patterns, it brings to light that which is otherwise silent. Arup provided concept to detailed design services including structural design, controls, software programing and also oversaw the manufacture, testing and installation of the piece.