With building heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) responsible for around 20 per cent 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 partnered 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 map the 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.

We identified 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 also used 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 were compared against current best practice.

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

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
  • 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
  • evidence to support government policy development and industry road-mapping activities.

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

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