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Case Study: KNX Control of Civic Building, Australia

Alistair GriceBy Alistair Grice, mySmartCTI.

The Civic Building in Australia’s Surf Coast Shire is a hallmark of environmentally sustainable design in regional Victoria. With the aim of reflecting the Surf Coast’s environmental conscience, the Council laid out a plan for a civic building that would not only use all natural resources available, but also share and encourage visitors end employees to participate in the initiative. Its focus on energy efficiency and water conservation, mean reduced running costs for the Council and the community.

Main entrance at the Surf Coast Shire Civic Building.
Main entrance at the Surf Coast Shire Civic Building.
For this project, the Surf Coast Shire Council worked with building company Cockram Constructions, electrical contractor ADJ Contracting, consulting engineers Irwinconsult and KNX partner mySmartCTI.

The AUD4,400,000 project, is the only civic building in this area that has achieved a five-star green-star rating; breaking new ground for local government. This recognition, given by the Green Building Council, means that the project meets the council’s criteria for good management practices, good indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, water efficiency, selection of eco-friendly-materials, limited harmful emissions, and innovation.

The interior of the building uses glass to maximize the use of natural light.
The interior of the building uses glass to maximize the use of natural light.
The Brief

The brief for this project was to deliver a highly-converged building on a scale that did not require a typical Building Management System (BMS) as there was neither the budget nor the scope for a traditional BMS. The solution was a KNX-based system centred around lighting control, energy metering and monitoring, renewable energy sources and user information systems.

Planning and Design

In planning for the project there was a clear performance brief from the client and the consultants in their desire for an energy- and resource-efficient building. The trick was sourcing a solution that would work and then communicating the requirements to each of the project managers from the different trades on site. In this case, KNX was deemed as being not only the best solution to meet the diversified requirements but one that was the most cost effective as well.

Our project sales team drove the initial sale and specification of the project, whilst our operations manager and our integration specialist handled the installation and commissioning. In reality, given the unique requirements of this project, everybody was very committed to getting the project finished on time and on budget. In the process, all of the team gained a great deal of knowledge as to the power of KNX and what it can deliver for a building of this size.

The Solution

The building is home to the council’s offices. It is used for administration, civic meetings and other events. There are also sports fields next to the main building used by local sporting groups.

At the heart of the building is a mySmartCTI KNX solution bringing lighting control, energy and resource monitoring, hydraulic services monitoring and management, and a building performance interface, all onto one converged operating system.

The KNX lighting control solution operates across the civic building and the adjacent sports ground’s flood lighting. The civic building uses a combination of Hager KNX wall switches with ABB KNX 360 occupancy sensors, KNX colour touchscreens and KNX Dali gateways. All of the lighting controls and building monitoring functions are available via the NETxLAB Voyager Server Professional software, including an interface to the building’s security system, which allows for complete shutdown once the building security is armed.

The sportsground floodlighting operates from a dedicated KNX colour touchscreen allowing each floodlight’s luminaries, on each of the floodlighting poles, to be switched separately and selectively. The floodlighting control system can also be operated in automatic mode where ambient light sensors are used to instantly adjust the light output.

The Sports Pavilion
The Sports Pavilion
Services Monitoring and Control

In addition to controlling the lighting throughout the civic precinct, the KNX network is used to monitor and control many of the services used across the building. These include the hydraulics systems – for the fire and rainwater pump house it checks on the domestic coldwater and rainwater flow rates, and controls the pump and UV disinfection status and the solenoid valve operation.

Other areas kept in check under the KNX network are rainwater tank volume, solar hot water plant pump status, flow rates and water temperature at a number of points.

A number of mechanical services are also monitored and controlled via KNX, such as the groundfloor toilet exhaust fans, the communications closet ventilation fans operated by temperature sensors and the electric panel heaters at the customer service counters with dedicated control panels.

Renewable Energy

Central to the energy efficiency of the building is the use of renewable energy. A vertical axis wind turbine rated up to 1kW is supplemented with a 2.5kW photovoltaic system. Both systems have been fitted with high-level output modules which feed data on the renewable energy systems into the KNX network in real time.

One of the main challenges we faced was the integration of the live interfaces for power generation from the photovoltaic cells and the wind turbines. This was solved through the use of KNX interfaces.

An ABB KNX weather station is used to monitor the ambient weather conditions and feed this information into the KNX system where the input data is used by a number of the building’s systems. This data includes ambient external light levels; outdoor temperature; wind speed and direction and precipitation status.

mySmartCTI has long believed in the power of sharing a building’s energy and resource performance with occupants as a way of facilitating awareness and behavioural change. At the Surf Coast Civic Building a 42″ LCD panel connected to the KNX network is located in the foyer and provides a real-time graphical display of building performance data and statistics.

Surf Coast Shire Civic Building reception boasts digital signage to inform visitors and employees about energy usage around the building.
Surf Coast Shire Civic Building reception boasts digital signage to inform visitors and employees about energy usage around the building.
The digital signage display shows real time information about the building’s administration and renewal of energy on things such as: rainwater harvesting and tank levels, mains water usage, contribution of daylight to interior lighting and the corresponding energy savings and ambient weather conditions.


People management was a crucial part of this project. We sat down with all of the trades to brief them properly and provide them with the relevant drawings.

A big challenge was the information system, as once we went live, small errors in calibration of meters could lead to very large discrepancies on the information screens for all to see. As part of the commissioning process we met with all of the trades on almost a daily basis.

Experience from the Project

What we’ve learned from the performance of this project is that communities can benefit from the sustainable vision of their leaders. Not only has this been recognised in regional Victoria, but also on the global stage.

What is distinctive about this project is that whilst each subsystem was designed to operate independently, they all operate seamlessly as one. This proves the power and flexibility of KNX.


We see KNX as delivering all of the benefits of a large commercial building, one that has separated lighting, HVAC, security and a traditional BMS, in a small- to medium-sized building platform. In this way all buildings may benefit from increased efficiency, greater comfort and hence higher productivity from their occupants, reduced operating costs and potentially greater building values. This, along with the wide scope of KNX suppliers and solutions makes KNX ideal for overcoming for virtually any challenge.

Equipment List

ABB KNX IP Routers.
ABB KNX DALI Gateways.
ABB 8 Channel KNX Relays.
ABB 12 Channel KNX Relays.
ABB 360o KNX Occupancy Sensors.
ABB KNX 4″ Colour Touchscreens.
ABB KNX Weather Station.
ABB KNX Wind Speed/Direction Sensor.
Hager 1-Gang KNX Switches.
Hager 2-Gang KNX Switches.
Hager 4-Gang KNX Switches.
NETxLAB Voyager BMS Server.
42″ display screen.
KNX Interfaces to security system, water and electricity meters, photovoltaic cells and wind turbine.

Alistair Grice is the Marketing Manager at mySmartCTI, an Australian company that helps to create the most energy- and resource-efficient environments possible.

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