Phil Wilkinson

Building owners, operators, facility managers, mechanical services industry professionals and other stakeholders can now access a free online benchmarking tool to assess the energy efficiency of a variety of heating, ventilation and airconditioning systems.

The world-first Calculating Cool initiative has been launched by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating, and AIRAH chief executive Phil Wilkinson said it had enormous potential to reduce HVAC energy use in Australia, with a corresponding benefit of dramatically slashing the carbon emissions footprint of the commercial property and residential property sectors.

“Calculating Cool provides the metrics and rules our industry has been crying out for to measure HVAC system effectiveness,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“With its balanced combination of quantitative and qualitative measures across the design, installation and operational phases of the HVAC lifecycle, 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.

“Our HVAC systems are designed to provide comfort, health and safety. But we also know that 22 per cent of all electricity used in Australia is in operating airconditioning and refrigeration systems, and that HVAC systems can be responsible for more than 40 per cent of the energy used in our commercial buildings.

“So given this, 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.”

The tool has also been designed to be complementary to the Green Star and NABERS rating tools.

Industry bodies including AIRAH, the Property Council of Australia, the Facilities Managers Association and the Airconditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association worked together with government to undertake the project. The contract for developing the final tool was carried out by Team Catalyst.

Bryon Price, strategic development director for building services consultancy AG Coombs, who also sits on the PCA’s Victorian Sustainable Development committee and is a non-executive director of both AIRAH and the FMA, said the tool was “the measure of quality our industry has been looking for”.

Five commercial buildings, one of them managed by CBRE Asset Services, participated in a pilot study carried out by Team Catalyst as part of the tool’s development.

CBRE Asset Services associate director Wayne McManus said the tool showed how the building compared, and the areas where there was a particular potential to improve the efficiency of its HVAC systems.

“There are always opportunities to improve a building’s operations and efficiency,” Mr McManus said.

The Calculating Cool project 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.

  • Access the Calculating Cool tool here.