Andrew Mather’s Integral Group in Sydney branded itself “deep green” right from the get go.
A lot of firms, he says, have sustainability as an add-on service.
“But for us, it’s core business and we sell that as a core service as much as mechanical, electrical and hydraulic.”
This means his company targets clients that are “sustainably minded and have good corporate conscience”, such as Lendlease, Mirvac, Frasers and Grocon, he says.
The Sydney presence ispart of a much bigger global operationbased in Silicon Valley, which tends to work with highly competitive tech clients, so there’s a lot of pressure not just on sustainability but technology as well.
“Because we work with global tech companies we plough money back into research and development,” Andrew says.
“We invite all our engineers to come up with ideas and suggestions that will either improve our buildings or something that advances sustainability generally. Or that’s innovative for the clients.
“Projects are adjudicated and there’s a fund allocated to some of those projects that it’s thought will benefit. We say, ‘Here’s $50,000 to work up the details behind that.’”
An example of a winning project is a tool that allows the company’s engineers to sit alongside architects and run through different options for airconditioning systems, or glass for instance, to see how each element or option changes the building’s energy costs.
Another big pillar for the company is to focus on precinct-style developments such as Barangaroo or educational campuses and hospitals that are likewise precincts.
This means that it’s possible to allow for the integration of “a lot of sustainability elements”, Andrew explains.
“I guess another point of difference is that we like to work in a more integrated way, so working alongside architects right from the start.”
Most engineers typically wait for architects to produce a drawing and then will respond to the design, he says.
“We try to take a more integrated approach and to get involved with the form of the building, the orientation and the massing, so that you optimise energy efficiency and get better daylight, lighting or thermal comfort. We use modelling to support our designs.”
In Sydney, he says, “We’re seen as engineers to go to for supporting architects for design competitions. We’ve done five of these already.”