A new online benchmarking tool has made it possible to measure the efficiency of a variety of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems within a building.
Building owners and operators, HVAC industry professionals, facility managers and other stakeholders are set to benefit from the free Calculating Cool initiative, launched by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH).
Industry bodies including AIRAH, the Property Council of Australia, the Facilities Managers Association and the Air-conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association worked together with government to undertake the project.
AIRAH CEO Phil Wilkinson says Calculating Cool is a world-leading initiative that has enormous potential to reduce the usage of HVAC systems in Australia by ranking different HVAC systems during design, installation and operation.
“Calculating Cool provides the metrics and rules our industry has been crying out for to measure HVAC system effectiveness,” Mr Wilkinson says.
The new tool is set to complement the Green Star and NABERS ratings tools.
“With its balanced combination of quantitative and qualitative measures… Calculating Cool is practical, effective and cost-beneficial. It is set to have a profound impact on the reduction of energy use in Australian HVAC systems,” says Mr Wilkinson.
Currently 22% of all electricity used in Australia is in operating air-conditioning systems, while HVAC systems can be responsible for more than 40% of the energy used in our commercial buildings.
“Calculating Cool can be expected to deliver considerable cost savings. By providing a dynamic assessment tool, it can rate, reward and encourage best-practice HVAC systems in buildings,” says Wilkinson.
The contract for developing the final tool was carried out by Team Catalyst, which included conducting a pilot study in which five commercial office buildings – three in Sydney and two in Melbourne – participated.
Originally driven by AIRAH and Sustainability Victoria, Calculating Cool will bring particular focus and importance to the performance of a building’s HVAC system.
The initiative forms part of the Council of Australian Government’s HVAC High Efficiency Systems Strategy, which comprises 20 complementary measures expected to save industry about $320 million a year in energy costs. These include best practice installation, commissioning and maintenance; monitoring and metering; climate control energy ratings; and training system operators and practitioners.