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A building’s energy use is normally invisible to the public. But for the next 30 days, five prominent high-performance buildings will be sweating it out in an unlikely race to beat their ‘personal best’.

Building Run is the creation of artist Keith Deverell, winner of the Sensing Sydney public art commission, and presents five data-driven athletes speeding up and slowing down in lock-step with the cycle of energy usage measured each day in five Sydney buildings.

Each 24 hour cycle is condensed to a 1 hour run. At the beginning of the day, when energy use is quite low, the runners amble along. However as soon as equipment starts pulling power, it’s on – they run faster and start to show the strains.

The objective is not to win but to achieve an energy efficiency “personal best”. That’s where Buildings Alive comes in. The result at the end of each day’s run is determined by the difference between the amount of energy consumed and the amount our REF software calculates would have been consumed under identical weather and operating conditions, based on past performance. The result comes down to operator fine-tuning. If the building uses less energy than was normal before the operator began receiving the daily REF feedback, it’s a “personal best” and the athlete will celebrate. If energy use was higher, it generates a bit of soul-searching.

There is an element of suspense as you watch the runners progress through the race – this is their real, unscripted performance each day. REF performs multiple calculations throughout the day to determine an expected energy profile, so if actual energy use is lower at any point in time the indicator will show the runner is on track for a PB – much like television coverage of Olympic swimming.

Click through to see a short video featuring the artist talking about the making of the project and its significance.

Building Run is located in the Assembly of Deutsche Bank Place, 126 Phillip St, Sydney, and is sponsored by Deutsche Bank, Investa Property Group and the City of Sydney and supported by Carbon Arts and Buildings Alive.

It’s open to the public until 19 October on Mondays 9am-7pm, Fridays 9am-9pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm.