With building heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) responsible for around 20% of electricity use, we are working with industry to help transition to a net zero energy building HVAC future.

The challenge

Reducing energy use

The HVAC industry has the potential to dramatically reduce its energy use and contribute to national greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

We are creating a HVAC Roadmap to improve energy efficiency.

Improved design practice, HVAC controls and building maintenance can save energy at low cost; and new technology combinations can take advantage of climate conditions and renewable energy opportunities.

However, as HVAC evolves, the industry will need enhanced skills, new products and services, and more opportunities to innovate in real building spaces.

The challenge is to transition to Net Zero Energy HVAC. Industry and government needs to work together to support this transition.

Our response

Driving HVAC innovation for the future

We aim to partner with the Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating and the Low Carbon Living Cooperative Research Centre, on behalf of the PRIME initiative, to begin roadmapping our journey to a future Net Zero Energy HVAC industry. This will help deliver industry commercial needs, while addressing current challenges for a sustainable, energy-efficient future.

The initial Phase 1 project is to identify a wide range of technology options, consistent with a future Net Zero Energy HVAC industry, and quantify the possible benefits in different climates and building archetypes. We will use computer simulation to model the hour-by-hour HVAC energy consumption of different scenario technologies, in different representative buildings, in each of the main capital cities/climate zones. Alternative approaches will be compared against current best practice.

A subsequent phase 2 project is expected to investigate the possible drivers and challenges involved in transitioning toward identified scenarios, with a view to developing a widely supported industry roadmap.

We are seeking industry comment on the design of the Phase 1 project and input to the planning of the Phase 2 project.

This research will provide the HVAC industry with:

  • data that can be used for developing industry strategy and responses
  • a framework for positioning industry research needs, and
  • ideas for new technology combinations.

The results

Engaging with industry to deliver success

The future HVAC technology scenarios will be developed through close consultation with industry. Annual energy savings results will be disseminated for use in further industry roadmapping work.

The roadmap will help identify:

  • the main low energy HVAC approaches against relevant applicability criteria
  • technical limits to carbon abatement potential across a range of building archetypes
  • research, demonstrations and industry capacity building needs, and
  • evidence to support government policy development and industry road-mapping activities.

We are seeking direct input from industry to shape the Phase 1 project report due in February 2017.

This will feed into the Phase 2 HVAC Roadmapping project scheduled to start in July 2017 to create a strategy for successfully transitioning to a more energy efficient HVAC future.

For more information on this work, please contact Dr Stephen White, Energy Research Director.

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