Excellence in Innovation

Floth Sustainable Building Consultants

Speaking with Chairman of Floth SBC, George Floth, Managing Director R. Glenn Ralph, and Director Richard Hewitt, it is clear that the company is passionate about providing the highest quality, leading edge solutions for clients across the construction industry in Australia, Asia and abroad.

Over its more than twenty seven years of operation, Floth has become known as an industry leader in innovative engineering solutions, having developed many of today’s building services processes, particularly in ecologically sustainable development, 3D modelling, and computational fluid dynamics modelling and simulation.

“Our firm is recognised for pioneering many of today’s established building services solutions and we continue to pursue the latest technologies,” says George Floth, Chairman.

Today, the company has offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Jakarta and is recognised across the industry for offering technically excellent, commercially viable and ecologically sustainable designs. Since inception, it has developed an impressive and growing portfolio of services for clients. It offers such services as ecologically sustainable design (ESD), fire performance engineering, acoustic and vibration engineering, water and waste water management, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and 3D documentation in addition to traditional building services (i.e., Mechanical, Electrical Fire, Hydraulic & Vertical Transportation).

The company continues to create new solutions for clients by implementing the latest 3D modelling software. This software can be used to create base building backgrounds using architectural and structural models, design and document, model and optimise the continually evolving building design, and develop walk-through visualisations for clients and stakeholders, allowing them to envisage the finished space.

The team at Floth is able to document directly to 3D CAD using both industry and in-house developed techniques. The process allows for greater coordination between services, structure and architecture and also helps the team check and revise spatial allowances resulting in faster and more cost effective construction.

Floth received the coveted Model of the Year 2011 for its 3D modelling work on the new Queensland Children’s Hospital Energy Plant, beating an international field of companies to take the prize, says Glenn Ralph, Managing Director. The award was presented in Las Vegas at the annual conference for 3D/Building Information Modelling (BIM) software providers to the construction industry.

Ecologically sustainable design (ESD) is at the core of Floth’s engineering philosophy, and is an area in which it has proven to be a leader and innovator, creating systems that have become industry standard. ESD considers the ecological, social and political impact of a project and the lasting effect of works upon generations to come. The design philosophy works to create solutions that best serve clients, communities and the ecology of the world in general. The company offers energy performance modelling, solar modelling, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling, thermal numerical analysis, as well as Green Star certification, National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) and Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

“Our green results speak for themselves,” suggests Richard Hewitt, Director. “We acted as ESD consultant on Queensland’s first As Built 6 Star Green Star building, Green Square North Tower. We also designed Australia’s first operational cogeneration plant in a commercial office building which, along with other design initiatives, reduced the building’s carbon emissions by an astounding seventy-three per cent compared to a 4 Star NABERS rated Queensland office building.”

Floth continues to undertake numerous green projects each year, including commercial office buildings, multi-use residential developments, health projects and education facilities. The most recent example is 180 Ann Street, the first development in Queensland to achieve a six star Office Design v3 rating. The company was appointed by the building owners to do ESD and consulting on the mechanical, electrical, fire suppression and hydraulic systems.

“At Floth, we believe the future of building services must integrate sustainability with practicality. Our award-winning ESD services are suitable for planning new projects or retrofitting older buildings. We have the expertise to target NABERS or Green Star ratings, implement alternative sources of energy generation, or creatively reduce your project’s carbon output.”

Richard says that there is no better example of this than the company’s work on 313 Adelaide Street. This commercial office building has been transformed from a 0 Star NABERS Energy Rating to a 4.5 Star rating – including a 4 Star NABERS Water Rating. This project was completed while maintaining the existing nine year old medium efficiency chillers and with no modification to the façade.

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling is a tool used to create the real-world behaviours of fluid flow in a virtual environment. This branch of fluid mechanics uses computers to simulate the interaction of liquids and gases, mathematically analysing and solving problems involving fluid flows.

Floth, using CFD modelling, can develop quantitative results on the performance of façades and HVAC systems as well as indoor air quality, fire safety and the comfort of the occupants. The modelling tools allow the project team to create designs that are specifically optimised for the clients.

At 111 Eagle Street in Brisbane, a two hundred metre glass-faced lift shaft, designed to optimise riverfront viewing from the workspace, creates an impressive vista for onlookers. Leighton Contractors engaged the Floth Physics Team to develop a solution to combat excess heat produced both by the lift and by sunlight heating the space. Working in cooperation with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the physics team played a vital role in the development of this first of its kind lift system integrated into the façade of the structure.

Based on this work, Floth Building Physicist Guillaume Jolly then prepared and presented a paper on the “Determination Of Cooling Strategy On A 200m High Glazed Lift Shaft: A CFD Approach” to the Building Simulation 2011 Conference in Sydney.

Some major recent projects include cogeneration and trigeneration technology developments in the greater Brisbane area. Cogeneration plants – combined heat and power – typically use a gas powered engine to generate useful heat at the same time as it generates electricity. Trigeneration plants – combining cooling, heat and power – generate heating, cooling and power using cogeneration equipment supplemented with an absorption chiller.

The company is established as a world-class engineer and designer of cogeneration and trigeneration facilities, with six plants in operation or construction in the greater Brisbane area. These plants will offer a combined capacity of more than 10 000 kWe (a kWe represents one thousand watts of electric capacity).

“We believe that Floth has led the application of this technology in the commercial building sector, providing enormous sustainability benefits through reductions in CO2 emissions and reductions in the peak electricity demand on the public network,” says Glenn of the benefits of CO2 emission reduction and peak demand reduction. “These are realised to the benefit of both the environment and the community.”

Floth has successfully accomplished projects along the eastern seaboard of Australia for many years from its offices in New South Wales and Queensland. Now, with the establishment of its Perth office, it is well placed to offer the same high level of service to clients on the west coast of the country. “Floth’s area of influence has however not been constrained to Australia, with projects undertaken in many parts of Asia including Indonesia, East Timor, China, Vietnam and Malaysia,” says George Floth, Chairman.

The company’s long-term presence in Jakarta has provided invaluable experience on the challenges of undertaking work in Asia. “More importantly, three senior Australian staff have, collectively, more than twenty years of service in Indonesia which ensures they are ideally placed to manage offshore projects, particularly in Asia.”

As for the future, Floth plans to continue its measured growth in order to meet the needs of market sectors in Australia and abroad through the expansion of services and the development of new physical locations. All of this is done while maintaining its valued business culture of personalised high quality service and technical excellence.

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May 29, 2020, 5:29 PM AEST