PICAC Narre Warren


Joint Plumbing Fund




Narre Warren, VIC


$ 30 million


Interior Design
Project Management

Developed by PICAC in partnership with international research and certification organisation IAPMO, the new PICAC Narre Warren campus is a comprehensive training and research facility dedicated to training the plumbing industry. The new facility is on track to be Victoria’s first Net Zero Energy (NZE) certified education facility, with the 12 month certification period ending at the end of June 2021. The training facility, designed for the plumbing industry, will generate all energy required to support the operation of the building on site through the incorporation of several renewable energy technologies.

PICAC Narre Warren is the third and largest campus designed for PICAC by FMSA, following the Brunswick and Geelong campuses.

The Narre Warren facility is shared by PICAC and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). IAPMO are one of the world’s leading plumbing product certification agencies and the Fullard Road site will house IAPMO R&T Oceana’s new research centre and product testing laboratory. PICAC’s students and the plumbing industry as a whole benefit from the collated arrangement with IAPMO as training needs associated with new innovation and evolving technologies are identified as they progress through the IAPMO certification process.  This uniquely positions PICAC to proactively address industry training needs early in the life-cycle of new plumbing products and technologies.

Learn more about the new Training Campus and get an insight into the construction process:

The architectural brief for Narre Warren resolved to develop a Net Zero Energy Design facility that would provide a creative, sustainable environment that links learning and training with product certification and research. The curriculum then connects with commercial opportunity and job certainty. The NZE designed building expresses and brings together these Learning to Production linkages. The comprehensive building services are reticulated on display throughout the open structure, the building is an expression of a legible textbook.

FMSA Architecture collaborated with NDY and Hutchinson Builders to achieve the Net Zero Energy Design, incorporating an array of building construction and services features.

A key contributor to the NZE success is the incorporation of a ground source heat pump system, to heat and cool the insulated ground slab. The field pipework for geothermal heat exchange flow and return water pipelines were installed into the structural screw piles during the foundation and substructure works.  As a ‘filled’ site, the screw pile footing system was logical for the soft foundation. To install and grout the flow and return lines into the screw pile is innovative, significantly building cost efficiencies into an otherwise capital intensive system.  The screw pile geothermal heat exchange lines supply the Heat pumps, servicing the in-slab heating and cooling network to provide a continually adjusted heat monitored, insulated ground slab.

Most notably, the facility is the first in Australia to utilize building foundation screw piling to source geothermal energy for the buildings heating and cooling requirements. 192 x 13 metre deep energy piles and 28 geothermal bores were drilled to a depth of 100 metres using a new specialized Commachio drill from Italy. Together the 220 wells are used for the Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system to heat and cool the building. The GSHP system integrates thermal heat loops within the structural screw piles for geothermal heat exchange. There is a Solar PV array comprised of 776 panels generating up to 275kW of electricity installed to contribute to the energy needs of the building.

Other building features supporting the net zero energy consumption include;

  • Indirect Evaporative Cooling, a system that uses an evaporative cooling process to deliver air conditioning, but without humidifying the air to the space. The main advantage is their low cost and high effectiveness, compared to traditional air conditioning. Since the units operate with 100% outside air, they are perfect for high occupancy spaces where a wider tolerance for acceptable indoor air conditions is appropriate.
  • An extensive roof mounted 776 solar PV installation with the primary target to achieve an annual generation of 273MWh, to enable the site to achieve a net zero consumption target. The advanced system has inbuilt optimisers which provide diagnostic maintenance tracking and the poor performance of a panel does not result in the performance of an entire string being compromised.
  • Full LED lighting solution with sensor management and dimmable response systems.
  • Roof decking is constructed throughout with the Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS). The integrated insulation within a sandwich of colorbonded steel decking provides greater spanning capability with stable insulation properties.
  • Exterior walls are constructed with Thermomass Insulated precast concrete sandwich panels. Extruded polystyrene insulation is layered between two concrete panels being held together by specifically designed Thermomass connectors.
  • Double glazing with thermal break window framing and high performance solar tinting.
  • Strategic window solar louvers and eyebrow shading.
  • Storm water capturing for toilet flushing.
  • Air tightness thoroughly specified and tested for all building elements, walls, openings and seals.

As a leader in education and training for the plumbing industry, PICAC  wanted to ensure that PICAC Narre Warren showcases the world’s very best leading edge technology and equipment centred around achieving Net Zero Energy and water related sustainability in order to directly display these technologies to the students who will be learning at the centre.

By showcasing the world’s very best and engaging leading edge technology PICAC has created an exciting training environment, engaging employees, employers and a research authority to educate the plumbers of tomorrow, today.

Key spatial features include a six-storey testing tower, two storey flexible training workshops, wet testing labs, 120 set lecture theatre and WSUD training and staff and student theoretical training rooms.

The building officially opened in September 2019 in conjunction with the 2019 World Plumbing Conference.

Awards + Recognition

Commendation | 2021 Victorian Chapter Australian Institute of Architects Sustainable Architecture category

High Commendation | 2020 Sustainability Awards – Education & Research

Winner |  2020 AIRAH Excellence in Sustainability Award

Jury Citation | 2021 AIA Sustainable Architecture Award commendation
Victoria’s first net zero energy education and research facility, PICAC Narre Warren is a climate action centre accommodating training for plumbers and research and certification of emerging plumbing technologies. The project served as a test bed for an innovative new hybrid screw pile/geothermal bore system reducing heating and cooling energy consumption. PICAC not only deploys sustainable building systems operationally but reveals them throughout the building, benefiting learners and showcasing them to industry, accelerating the adoption of these systems.

PICAC Narre Warren not only deploys sustainable building systems operationally but reveals them throughout the building, benefiting learners and showcasing them to industry, accelerating the adoption of these systems.

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