Griffith is home to Australia's first teaching and research facility relying entirely on photovoltaic arrays and hydrogen-metal hydride storage technologies to keep it off the power grid. The innovative, 6-star green-rated Sir Samuel Griffith Centre opened in July 2013.
As an example of genuine sustainable energy alternatives, the Centre showcases Griffith’s commitment to finding practical solutions to environmental issues. It also provides a model that could be incorporated into isolated buildings in remote, such as schools in rural communities.
The concept for the $40 million Centre derives in part from Griffith research by Professor Evan Gray, leader of the principal node of the National Hydrogen Materials Reference Facility (NHMRF), headquartered at Griffith, is a state-of-the-art reference laboratory that focuses on hydrogen storage materials. With funding from the Australian Research Council, the NHMRF supports research collaborations between a number of prestigious universities in Australia and overseas.
The Centre honours the progressive traditions of the University’s namesake, Sir Samuel Griffith.
- 6-star green-rated
- The Sir Samuel Griffith Centre has been awarded a 6-star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia. Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings.
- Solar power
- The Centre is covered by 1124 solar panels. The panels, which convert sunlight into energy to store in batteries, provide a stable power supply over any 24-hour period. Energy not used during the day is either be storied for later use, or used for running the air conditioning systems the next day. The Centre only needs to use the electricity grid for power during unusually long periods of rain or cloud cover.
- Hydrogen power
- The Centre will have a second, innovative energy storage system for, quite literally, a rainy day. From 2014, the Centre’s hydrogen fuel cells will kick in when the first batteries run down to a certain level. The Centre is the first building to run a hydrogen storage process on this scale.
- At night, excess energy is used to chill water for the main air-conditioning system to run the next day. Another air-conditioner unit, separate from the main system, delivers personal levels of temperature and air flow through outlets at each desk or workstation. This reduces the workload of the primary system and provides personal level of comfort.
- Water harvesting
- Water is collected from the roof and stored in a large water tank for use in landscape irrigation and toilet flushing.
- Construction materials
- The Centre has been constructed from glass, aluminium, concrete, steel, bricks and fibro-cement sheeting.