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Windsor substation upgrade leads Unison’s journey to a sustainable future

In a move towards its vision of leading a sustainable energy future, electricity distributor, Unison Networks has commenced a sustainable zone substation design with the replacement of the 11kV switchboard at Windsor Zone substation.

In an industry first, the concept design for this “small building with a big heart” carries a strong sustainability element through its use of renewable material including:
• modular design utilising cross laminated timber panels
• thermally broken passive design 
• zero Red List building materials, including zero use of PVC
• net zero energy, and
• net zero water.

The Windsor substation upgrade not only responds to Unison’s operational needs and urban location, it also aligns with the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge – a green building certification that applied to building projects in 12 countries including New Zealand.

Unison Project Engineering Team Leader, Paul Humphreys, says this small building has potential beyond its size to not only help meet future demand, but to help build engagement with Unison’s customers and the wider community around the future vision and direction of the organisation, and the wider electricity industry.  

“The project provides the potential to be a catalyst for industry change. It provides Unison with a platform for future projects and future flexibility, in that the building has been designed to be modular and relocatable. This will allow for changing customer behaviors and needs, for example, accessibility to electric vehicle charging stations.” says Paul.

The project’s primary deliverable is to replace the 11kV switchboard that has reached end of life as determined through Unison’s asset renewal plan. The replacement of the switchboard will include:
• construction of a new switch room
• replacing the 11kV switchboard and associated cabling
• replacing the existing mechanical protection relays
• installation of arc flash protection, and 
• partial discharge monitoring of the 11kV switchboard.

“We ultimately hope that this small substation can become a showcase of sustainability, and in doing so, continue Unison’s leadership role in this sector. The substation upgrade will provide Unison with a platform to reap the benefits of sustainability for the future of substations, and ultimately the community and the network,” says Paul.

Construction has commenced and is expected to be completed in April 2022.


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