Award Winning Educational Building – Charles Sturt University

Charles Sturt University (CSU) Engineering Building Bathurst was the WINNER of the 2017 Sustainability Building Award for the education category.

It was additionally named as a WINNER for Educational Architecture by The Australian Institute of Architects at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards at Luna Park on 1 July. Where it also picked up a commendation in the Sustainable Architecture Category.

Charles Sturt University – An Award Winning Educational Building

Client | Thomson Adsett
JHA Services | Mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, fire, architectural lighting design, vertical transportation & ESD
Location | Bathurst, NSW


Designed by architects Thomson Adsett Charles Sturt University offer a range of courses from campuses across NSW in both main and regional cities.

The new development, built mainly on the footprint of the existing building, was designed to transform the existing buildings located on the University’s Bathurst campus into a new School of Engineering, offering a brand new degree in both engineering and business skills.

What makes it unique is the honeycomb layout specifically designed so the study areas can be flexible to give students control of the spaces to suit their study needs. The furniture can be rearranged to create collaborative learning areas where individuals or groups can feel comfortable. Making it the student’s space.

The new facility includes a gallery, technological wall, maker studio, pitch space, labs and a ‘Honeycomb of Learning’ – a range of clustered collaboration zones that reflect the co-curricular and collaborative nature of the new learning environment.

JHA Consulting Engineers were part of the team which delivered the project from building concept to completion and handover, providing Mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, fire, vertical transportation & ESD consultancy services in a combined effort from the JHA Brisbane and Sydney offices.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) Engineering Building Bathurst
Charles Sturt University Flexible Study Area
Honeycombed ceiling at (CSU) Engineering Building Bathurst

The Challenges

The high ceilings in the leaning spaces and laboratories created inefficiencies in heating, particularly in Bathurst where heating is commonly utilised in colder months – on an average building the temperature from top to bottom can vary from 10 degrees over 10 metres. In order to combat inefficiencies of delivering heating in a stratified temperature layer, JHA proposed the use of turbine destratification fans which are used to eliminate layers of temperature by circulating jets of warmer air from the underside of the ceiling to the lower occupant level.

The destratification fans assisted in creating an even temperature throughout the high ceiling spaces, reducing the demand of heating at the occupant level. Destratification technology can reduce the differences in temperature from ceiling to floor to as little as 2 degrees and improves energy efficiency in heating which in turn reduces the carbon footprint of the building.

Implementation of the destratification fans is a key feature of the building maximising sustainable architecture with high ceilings.

How destratification works

Designed by architects Thomson Adsett the Charles Sturt University (CSU) Engineering Building was the winner of an Educational Architecture Award by The Australian Institute of Architects at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards at Luna Park on 1 July. The building also received a commendation in the Sustainable Architecture division.

Sustainability Initiatives

The below measures assisted in reducing the carbon footprint of the building while maximising the architectural intent, and was rewarded with a commendation at the 2017 New South Wales Architectural awards for Sustainable Architecture.

Sensible Heat Exchanger

A sensible Heat Exchanger was used to recovery energy from building exhaust air streams, and using the recovered energy to pre-cool outside air entering the building. The main impact is to minimise waste energy, and to use the re-cycled energy to lower demand for the air conditioning for the building.

Highly Efficient LED Lighting

Highly efficient LED lighting were used throughout the building. The specialist lighting design and selection of high performance fittings delivered a 30% reduction in energy usage compared to BCA Section J requirements. The LED lighting were custom designed to integrate in with the architectural intent of the honeycomb layout. There was a strong commitment from the Client and Architect to deliver spaces which inspired innovation. JHA’s Specialist Lighting team worked closely with the architectural design team in response to this brief, and developed custom lighting solutions that are unique to the school, are flexible and dynamic, and provide a balance between visually stimulating and highly functional light.

Maximising System Integration

Maximising system integration was an important part of the project brief in creating an intelligent building that also educates the students which use the space. This process stemmed from the concept phases of the building with the intent of displaying building information on a 15m long and 3m high fully interactive building user touch screen display at the entrance of the building.

An example of this is the increased levels of integration is between mechanical and electrical control systems, where air conditioning systems control were integrated with the automated lighting control system. When no movement was detected within teaching through the lighting control system, this information is transferred to the mechanical air conditioning control system. This is used to command the air conditioning system to enter ‘Relaxed Mode’, allowing an elevated room temperature (i.e. 26-27⁰C in summer and 18-19⁰C in winter) to minimise unnecessary heating / cooling when unoccupied.

Dedicated Research Weather Station

Another example of system integration is the provision and connection of a dedicated research weather station on the building touch screen display. The weather station measured conditions such as external ambient temperature, humidity, pressure, rain status, wind direction / speed, global solar radiation levels, and hail count detector, and provided a basis to analyse the building energy performance data. This played a key role in establishing the CSU Engineering building as an educational tool for its student cohort.

JHA Consulting Services Projects

JHA Consulting Engineers have offices in both Sydney and Brisbane and have worked on projects throughout Australia. Projects range greatly in value from small to large scale across a wide range of industry sectors.