NuGreen is a provider of energy efficient products and sustainability solutions to businesses throughout Australia. The formation of NuvoGroup, an electrical contractor, UMS a maintenance contractor, and a sustainability consultant, NuGreen is able to offer whole of life solutions in the energy efficiency and sustainable project spaces. “What that brought together were the contacts and the networks associated with those individuals, as well as the respective skill set possessed by each different organisation,” says Sustainability Integration Director Geoff Gourley. NuGreen operates within a unique and innovative business model that combined all aspects of sustainability, as well as the financing for such solutions. “The way that we do up the business case, the design, the installation and the maintenance is really a whole of life approach that considers all of those elements, and we fund the solution.” The entirety of this business model was designed from the ground up by NuGreen, and includes the use of advanced modelling calculators, which aid in the interpretation of a project or asset’s data. With such data, the company can work out the best design solution possible, and present it in a simple, easy to understand
business case that demonstrates the cost-benefit analysis of savings, return on investment, net present value, and simple payback. “Our client is able to make an informed decision not only about the capital cost up front, but also an informed decision about how long an item will last, and how much it will cost over its lifetime,” says Geoff. While only just completing their first full year of busi
ness, NuGreen has already established a substantial client base. Acting as a trusted advisor to many of their clients, the group has experienced a high level of repeat business, on account of the numerous facilities these clients maintain in all states and territories across Australia.
Initially, NuGreen began with the provision of simple technologies for LED lighting, such as sensor controls and a number of associated strategies. When the carbon tax was first introduced, the company witnessed increase in clients seeking a new lighting solution to replace their inefficient fifty-watt halogen systems. “They’re actually banned to be imported into Australia now, because they are so bad for the environment,” says Geoff. NuGreen has sourced and selected from the world’s top ten providers of products from around the world in a wide range of sectors, and is able to design a solution that considers whole of life, such as Panel LEDs, down-lights, or LED High-bays that are now found in warehouses, and can deliver a seventy per cent reduction in energy consumption. “When you apply that to a ten thousand square metre warehouse with one thousand lights,” Geoff explains, “it’s a significant cost saving for that client in the energy associated with running it.” NuGreen also provides small scale solar energy solutions, examples of which can be seen at the South Melbourne Market in City of Port Philip, where they installed a thirty-four kilowatt photovoltaic solar system as a pilot model. “The idea is that that unit will end up being three hundred kilowatts, and provide enough power not only to run the market, but also an additional surplus to feed back into the grid.” At this stage, the project will become a viable business model for the operating group. HVAC solutions are another area of expertise for NuGreen, particularly for larger facilities such as office buildings, hospitals, and universities. “HVAC tends to be the biggest power consumer within an asset like that,” says Mr Gourley. “It’s also directly linked to lighting and façade treatment.” NuGreen explores a range of solutions through audits, design analysis and modelling, presenting the best number of solutions generated for the client to adopt, each with its own cost value benefit analysis. The company then progresses to the design, implementation and delivery phases of those products, and follows up with ongoing maintenance after the project has been completed. NuGreen has recently delivered a cogeneration system in the Goodshed South building in Melbourne’s Docklands, consisting of a gas-fired turbine that helps support and provide power for an asset, taking reliance off of grid connected power, which is derived from brown and black coal generators. The group also deals in smart technology, such controls for lighting systems. “We use data and software management tools that help us understand how best to utilise the power of building assets,” says Geoff. “We’re really providing a whole range of solutions, which vary from asset to asset.”
NuGreen is one of only a handful of parties capable of competently providing the expertise of a design consultant, electrical contractor, maintenance provider, and a bank, all in one combined experience. They also provide solutions which fall under the Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) framework. “You can’t just go to an electrician and expect that they understand all of those different aspects,” Geoff explains, ”which is why the group was formed, and our main point of difference is that we have that expertise in house, they all speak to each other, work next to each other, and that’s really integrated into a project.” With only single point of contact, a client’s administration of a project becomes notably easier. “They’re ensured of having a smooth solution delivered, because we cover and minimise the risk every step of the way,” Mr Gourley says. “It’s not as simple as coming in and selling them a one-off solution and walking away. We’re in business with them for the long term, and we want to see them become more efficient, become more sustainable, adopt a range of solutions, and see the realisation of all of those energy savings and sustainable savings.” Toll Group is a key client that NuGreen is currently working very closely with on a number of national projects, focusing on reduction of their energy use and carbon footprint, as well as operational improvements and reductions of cost and maintenance. “There are a lot of positives that they’re looking for, and looking to us to deliver for them.”
The necessity of reaching a balance between optimisation of the size of the system and the load that it is attempting to offset is a core belief at NuGreen. “Different states and territories perform better when it comes to solar and renewable energy,” says Geoff. While implementing wind-based power generation systems on a small scale in the industrial sector, NuGreen’s predominant renewable technology is solar photovoltaic cells on rooftops. A warehouse equipped with solar panels can benefit heavily from a reduced reliance on grid-based power, which simultaneously reduces their energy demand and lowers their energy costs. “Energy management is important, understanding how you use energy within an asset is very important,” Geoff says. “The first rule is to reduce your consumption, so having an efficient plant and equipment, and how you manage that from a technology and software basis is equally important.” NuGreen implements a number of different software solutions, some capable of effectively managing up to one hundred assets. A client can simply access the software at the office or on their mobile device, inspect the performance of any single asset, and implement strategies in order to further reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency. The ongoing benefits of implementing such strategies, particularly in the office sector, include the improvement of the asset’s NABERS rating. A high rating is valuable, as it allows for a higher rental value of the asset, amongst other advantages. Passionate about sustainability and helping their clients become greener and more efficient, NuGreen stands at the leading edge of technology, and keeps up to date with the latest, most effective products. The group presents at a number of conferences as well, supporting their approach to information sharing and thought leadership, and have recently been invited to speak at that upcoming national government sustainability conference in October, where they will be discussing green building, innovations, technology and many other important topics within the sustainability sector.
Over the past year, NuGreen has taken part in a number of complex, challenging projects, including a recently completed twenty thousand square metre warehouse. The project consisted of both the refurbishment of an existing warehouse and the extension of a new warehouse, and the development of an integrated energy efficiency solution across both properties. “We designed and proposed an energy and lighting management solution that was able to be implemented not only in the new part, but also the refurbished part,” says Geoff. Through the adoption of smart controls, daylight harvesting, and LED lighting, the new system resulted in a sixty-five per cent reduction in energy consumption. In order to achieve the lighting levels required by Australian standards, NuGreen carried out a ground-up design for the entire building. This design worked in conjunction with the asset’s existing C-bus building control system, enabling the lights to automatically switch off during the day, if the natural light was adequate to illuminate the building’s interior. Absence and presence detection systems were installed as well. “Why have lights on when no one’s home?” Geoff laughs. Another major project was the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne. For the last seven years, NuvoGroup and NuGreen has been working very closely with Crown on a range of electrical upgrade works, including a full shift to LED throughout the facility, the three hotel towers, and all new areas in the future. Technical control systems, as well as HVAC control system and improved HVAC efficiency are also being implemented, all while the facility remains fully operational.
The maintenance of close relationships with industry associations, such as the Clean Energy Council, Green Building Council of Australia, Property Council of Australia, as well as the state, federal, and local government bodies, is of critical importance to NuGreen. “A lot related to sustainability and energy efficiency can be linked back to policy drivers, Australian standards, and building codes,” says Mr Gourley. “When rules and regulations and legislation get written in, it’s really driving building owners and contractors to ensure that they are delivering sustainable product outcomes.” Voluntary schemes such as Greenstar, and mandatory aspects such as NABERS have proven indispensible for driving innovation and efficiency. “They are lifting the benchmark of what is acceptable across the industry.” As well, the industry is known to look to providers of services, such as NuGreen itself, for advice and information on the newest technologies and the obstacles that should be considered when introducing new products and supplies. NuGreen also works very closely with their suppliers, many of whom are based within Australia. “People find this surprising, they think most product comes out of China or Asian countries,” says Geoff. “We don’t want the cheaply reproduced technology, we want the bleeding edge technology, because our approach is that it’s going to be the best, and that it’s going to last.” Working so closely with their suppliers also means that if a product or solution does not yet exist for a problem, NuGreen can work with them to design a specific, unique product or solution for the client.
Australia’s uncertain political landscape stands to be a critical factor for the future of the industry. “Both sides are a little sketchy on their policies regarding carbon tax and emission trading schemes,” explains Geoff. Despite the increasing amount of industry funding in the form of grants, including the Clean Technology and Innovation Program, local government funding rounds, programs in New South Wales such as Energy Saver Incentives, and efficiency trading initiatives in Victoria like VEET, many states and territories are still without any form of rebate scheme. Furthermore, as these schemes are state based, no consistency is provided across rebate schemes nationally. “If there was, it would really drive the adoption of new, efficient technologies, particularly when there’s the market driver of a rebate that goes back to the client who is undertaking the project.” With power prices on the rise throughout Australia, Geoff has noticed a growing number of businesses shifting their focus towards the improvement of asset efficiency. “I think there’s a big opportunity there in the B, C and D-grade building stock to start adopting these technologies, because they already exist, they’re easy to implement, they can be funded, and the solutions have been proven to get results.” Gourley says. “As a minimum you’d be looking at reducing your power bills by fifty per cent.” Internationally, the rapid advancement of some of efficiency products is helping to ensure that the right technology makes its way into Australia. Such products undergo rigorous testing before their implementation into standards and into projects. The cost of renewable energy products, such as solar panels, has been decreasing dramatically as well, making installation more affordable. “Because power prices have been going up, they’re getting quite a benefit out of the right scale solar system on their roof.”
Born in Traralgon with the coalmines and the pine plantation at his backdoor, it was no doubt that Geoff would find himself working in an environmental field. “I was brought up with a strong founding in the environment, bushwalking and enjoying nature.” In 2008, he was selected for a fellowship for the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, which developed into training with Al Gore. He subsequently toured to New York to speak about sustainability leadership in 2009, later speaking in London in 2010. Geoff had established a sustainability consultancy business called Shape our Future in 2008. Having worked in the property sector for over 20 years he has had a very close association with green buildings with Greenstar and NABERS, and has helped to deliver many of Victoria’s significant green buildings with Hansen Yuncken, and many Greenstar interior fit-outs with a company called ISIS Group Australia. By investing into NuGreen and the emerging energy efficient market, Geoff is proud to be part of a business model that strives to address many of the industry’s challenges in a smart, innovative fashion. “With the right people and the right financial backing, it’s enabled us to make a significant and positive impact on the efficiency of assets throughout Australia,” he says, “We’re making significant difference from a sustainable perspective, of course we’re doing it with a socially responsible business model. We have gone through a period of expansion, which is fantastic, and we’re bigger and better for the future.”