Indoor air quality and air conditioning

November 13th, 2019 by

Indoor air quality

You can’t see the quality of the air you’re breathing in, but it has the potential to significantly impact your health. Indoor air quality (IAQ) affects our health and comfort at home and at work.

What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?

 “The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) defines indoor air as air within a building occupied for at least one hour by people of varying states of health. This can include the office, classroom, transport facility, shopping centre, hospital and home. Indoor air quality can be defined as the totality of attributes of indoor air that affect a person’s health and well-being.”

 Indoor air quality is measured by; cleanliness of the air (presence or absence of dust, pollen etc.), humidity, temperature control and odour.

In the commercial space, it’s imperative that businesses have effective, energy efficient air-conditioning solutions that are clean and maintained. Most commercial premises have constant human traffic, so IAQ is just as important in the workplace as it is in a residential sense. Poor indoor air quality can negatively impact your health, your comfort levels and your power bills.

Air-conditioning does a lot more than pump out hot or cold air on demand. It also plays a major part in maintaining good IAQ.

What can be done to ensure your air-conditioning system is working efficiently and continually circulating clean air?

 Air-conditioner filters typically require changing at the beginning of both heating and cooling seasons. Quarterly is even better. This is a rather lengthy project when talking about commercial premises, which is why having your system professionally serviced at these intervals is best practice. A clean and full-service including the changing of older, clogged filters will allow the air-conditioner to continue to filter out dust pollen, spores and other airborne nuisances that are detrimental to human health.

Why is air-conditioning cleaning and maintenance so important for IAQ?

Changing the filter is important because dirty filters restrict airflow, forcing your system to work harder. This ultimately brings down the energy efficiency of the system, and increases your power bill. Not only that, but air circulation needs to remain constant for air quality to be maintained. Dirty filters are also known to overheat, causing permanent damage.

Another aspect of indoor air quality that air-conditioning helps to sustain is humidity. Air-conditioners are designed to reduce indoor humidity, which is a known contributor to the growth of mould. Mould is a major threat to IAQ as it can cause substantial health problems.

Health problems that are commonly associated with poor indoor air quality, according to The Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, include:

  • Sensory and skin irritation(skin, eyes and throat)
  • Neurotoxic symptoms (such as; weakness, paralysis, flu-like symptoms, headache, vision loss, memory problems, impaired cognitive function, depression, loss of circulation, imbalance, behavioural problems and OCD)
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Odour and taste symptoms

Provided your commercial air-conditioning system is well maintained, clean, and continues to filter the air properly, it should last a long time. Regular cleaning and maintenance will prolong the life of the unit, increase energy efficiency, and sustain good indoor air quality. This will benefit your staff, clients and your bottom line.

For all enquiries on engineered air-conditioning solutions, commercial system maintenance and servicing, or the importance of maintaining indoor air quality, please contact our knowledgeable team at Equilibrium Air Conditioning on (02) 9439 4822 or email- [email protected]

 

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Red alert – signs the AC system is in need of maintenance

October 19th, 2019 by

red alert

Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner. In a country like Australia, that means commercial air-conditioners everywhere are gearing up for some hefty work over the hot season. Cooling large business premises is no easy feat, even though that is what they’re designed to do. In order to ensure best performance, it’s important to have your system regularly maintained and serviced. Of course, there are still emergencies or unexpected issues from time-to-time.

When it comes to HVAC systems, the sooner you address any problems or issues, the better the outcome will be. As problems are left to become progressively worse, the time and money required to fix them increases.

Here are some of the signs you’ll see if your air-conditioning is crying out for some help:

You’ve set the thermostat to cool air, but it’s blowing hot

 When cool air is no longer cool, that is a problem. This can be a sign that the indicator system’s compressor has crashed or requires service, or it could mean there is a faulty capacitor, or a blown fuse.  Refrigerant leaks are also an option. If your system starts blowing hot air when you have it set to cool, call for expert help sooner rather than later!

Leaking or excess moisture

If liquid is escaping from the unit, or around the unit, the two main causes are typically; a blocked or broken drain tube or a refrigerant leak. The first option is less serious, though both will require professional repair. This is another sign you should never ignore, call for help right away.

Consistent, unusual noises

 Whether it’s squeaking, grinding or grating, if your HVAC system starts making noises that are unfamiliar, address the problem straight away. This is a loud warning sign and usually means the problem is significant. A belt may have slipped out of place, motor bearings could be broken or some of the HVAC components may urgently require lubrication. Don’t delay on this one, it could be serious, get the professionals in ASAP.

The airflow is minimal

If the air-conditioning is on, but not much air is circulating through, this could be a sign of obstruction, or a problem with the filter. It could also be caused by an issue with the ductwork. Call maintenance when you notice any decrease in the air flow and have the cause diagnosed and corrected swiftly.

It doesn’t smell right

 Bad odours coming from your HVAC system is never a good sign. This commonly happens when systems aren’t regularly maintained and serviced. Bacteria can grow in the coils and in other elements of the system. Even a musty smell could be a sign of mould in the ductwork or the unit itself. Don’t let this sign fester either, call for help promptly.

Commercial HVAC systems are engineered with heavy use and longevity in mind. With regular maintenance and servicing, they should operate at peak efficiency for many years. However, if you do come across any issues, such as the warning signs discussed above, the best thing to do is call for help quickly. This will limit the damage, and get your system running smoothly again faster. It will also save you time and money.

At Equilibrium Air Conditioning, we provide complete air conditioning solutions to suit any type of development, whether it’s commercial office space, healthcare, education, retail or industrial construct. We also offer maintenance and repair services. If you have any questions regarding commercial air-conditioning, including the signs that your existing system may be in trouble, give our friendly team a call on (02) 9439 4822.

 

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Equilibrium excited to be part of topping ceremony for SHOR project

October 10th, 2019 by

SHOR topping

Back in September this year we attended the topping ceremony for the Multiplex SHOR construction project for NSW Health. We were very excited to be part of the celebrations, and thrilled to have hit a huge milestone on the project. It is great to see that it’s moving on target.

It’s a privilege to be part of this big project, involving the construction of a 12 storey commercial building at the Royal North Shore Hospital in St. Leonards. The ongoing redevelopment efforts are part of the biggest in NSW Health history.

Some quick facts about the Royal North Shore Hospital:

  • It was established in 1885
  • RNSH is a major teaching hospital
  • Approximately 3,000 babies are born annually at RNSH
  • It is one-of-seven major trauma centres in NSW
  • RNSH meets the health needs of four local government areas, Mosman, Willoughby, Lane Cove and North Sydney.
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The importance of sustainability in project design

October 3rd, 2019 by

sustainable design

As time passes, the concern for our environment increases, because we want our planet to remain beautiful and capable of sustaining human life for many generations to come. We want our communities to be happy and healthy, our air to be clean and our natural resources to remain abundant. As communities grow, and the demand for modern conveniences increases, it will become even more important to design buildings and engineering projects, such as HVAC systems, with sustainability as a paramount concern.

HVAC systems can consume a lot of energy, and this consumption is actually highly dependent on the design of the building that the unit is situated in, as well as the choice of unit, and the level of maintenance completed. Quality is hugely important.

Green building concepts aim to design buildings that have minimal impact on the environment and depletion of natural resources. These methods not only have great environmental benefits, but are cost effective over the long term as well. The more energy-efficient a home or office is, the lower the running costs. So, what exactly is green building?

“In simple terms, green buildings are energy and resource efficient, non-wasteful and non-polluting, highly flexible and adaptable for long-term functionality; they are easy to operate and maintain, and are supportive of the productivity and well-being of the occupants.” – The design of a green building Hui, S. C. M., 2001. HVAC Design and Operation for Green Buildings, In Proc. of the Shaanxi-Hong Kong Refrigeration and HVAC Seminar 2001, 11-13 June 2001, Xian, China, pp. A44-51.

Experience has taught us that green building is an ever-evolving concept, and something that is unique to particular requirements and circumstances. It is a “whole systems” approach, factoring in the life cycle of the entire project, as well as the external environment.

If a building’s standard components are optimised (site, windows, walls, floors, and HVAC systems), building owners can “substantially reduce energy use without increasing construction costs. The most effective green design is a fully integrated design whereby architectural, HVAC and electrical systems all interact to minimize size, waste, energy use, and other negative impacts on the environment.” [Hartman, 2000].

HVAC systems significantly contribute to a building’s efficiency as they have the potential to cause severely unfavourable environmental hazards such as; discharging contaminated water and air containing dangerous chemicals, oils, refrigerants, other fluids and microbiological organisms. HVAC engineers are consequently responsible for avoiding these potential hazards where possible, and charged with devising action plans to benefit building owners, stakeholders and the environment. Engineers need to push architects to better design envelopes, and educate building owners and developers on the importance of green, sustainable design. It’s not surprising to note that the green design process actually involves a high level of collaboration from all involved parties. Optimal HVAC design requires focus on the thermal characteristics, using high-performance glazing, insulation, and sun control to substantially reduce heating and cooling burdens.

In addition to benefiting the planet, and reducing the running costs for the building owner, “green design” is also known to increase business productivity. When indoor environmental quality improves, research suggests the occupants of a room will experience higher levels of alertness, improved performance, a reduction in illness and subsequently, the risks of absenteeism are lowered.

Green building design is important for so many reasons, and HVAC systems, as large contributors, must always lead the way with efficient design. Environmental responsibility is everyone’s business and responsibility. At Equilibrium Air Conditioning, we believe in looking to the future, and that means sustainability is always a key factor in design and construction of every single project we undertake. For all your commercial air conditioning needs, please feel free to call our friendly, experienced team on (02) 9439 4822.

** References: The design of a green building Hui, S. C. M., 2001. HVAC Design and Operation for Green Buildings, In Proc. of the Shaanxi-Hong Kong Refrigeration and HVAC Seminar 2001, 11-13 June 2001, Xian, China, pp. A44-51.

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What is the standard life expectancy of an HVAC system?

September 26th, 2019 by

Flipping of sheets of calendar with black and red numbers

Commercial HVAC systems work hard to maintain temperature control in business and industrial premises, sometimes functioning constantly. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. In NSW, we experience weather of both extremes. The heat can be scorching, and the winter can be quite chilling too.

A reliable commercial HVAC system is a must, no matter what industry you’re operating in. HVAC engineering and solutions may be a necessity, though they are a significant investment for your business. Because of this, it’s understanding that life expectancy is a major concern. Typically, a good quality, well-maintained commercial HVAC system will last at least15-20 years. Factors that will determine actual longevity include:

  • Sizing of the unit in relation to the ductwork
  • Sizing of the air conditioning system in relation to building square meterage
  • Frequency of servicing, maintenance and changing of the filters
  • Outdoor climate, weather conditions and intensity, and the occurrence of any major weather events
  • Quality of engineering and installation
  • Intensity of thermostat settings

When your commercial HVAC system approaches the end of its life, you may start noticing some warning signs. Once they start appearing, it’s important to call in professional help sooner rather than later. A qualified service technician can help you determine whether the malfunctions are repairable, or whether you will need to consider replacement. Signs to look out for include:

  • Production hot or cold air inconsistent with your designated temperature settings
  • Diminished airflow
  • Strange odours or noises
  • Leaking or excessive moisture
  • Short cycling or switching off too soon
  • Drastic increase in energy bills and consumption
  • Frequently requiring repairs

Whilst no system can be manufactured to last forever, most HVAC units are made to endure climate, regular usage and the passage of a decent amount of time. You can get the most out of your system through proper care and maintenance. Ensure your system is serviced regularly, and call for help at the first sign of trouble.

If you’d like to know more about HVAC systems, including further information on their life expectancy, please feel free to call our expert team at Equilibrium Air Conditioning on (02) 9439 4822.

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Why your air conditioner needs regular maintenance and servicing

December 7th, 2018 by

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Just as your company vehicles require regular maintenance and servicing, your HVAC system needs the same care and attention. Given that your commercial air conditioning system is keeping your staff and customers comfortable for extensive periods of time each day, it makes sense to be vigilant and attentive when it comes to this investment.

The three main reasons for air conditioning servicing and maintenance are:

  • Extending the lifespan of the system

Air conditioning is a significant financial outlay for any commercial enterprise. Any time you invest heavily, you want a decent return. In order to get the most out of your HVAC system, and have it last as long as possible, you’ll want to have it regularly serviced. Servicing and maintenance will keep the unit running at peak efficiency, and prevent small problems from becoming larger ones. It’s estimated that regular servicing can extend the lifespan of an air conditioning system by up to five years.

  • Reducing running costs by maintaining peak energy efficiency

By ensuring that all parts are clean and functioning correctly, a unit can run without difficulty, which means it will consume less energy. Less energy consumption translates to lower electricity bills and reduced running costs. In a commercial setting, the air conditioning is typically used for lengthy periods of time, and the energy savings from having a healthy, well-maintained unit will be significant.

  • Preventing costly repairs by catching problems early

Just as catching problems with your system early will help it to last longer, it will also save you some money. Some issues are minor and inexpensively fixed when caught early. If they are allowed to continue, the problem becomes worse, and the solution is always more work and more money. Prevent huge repair bills by having your system serviced and maintained on a regular basis.

If you are a Facilities Manager or Building Owner, you’ll want to know your HVAC system is in good hands. At Equilibrium Air conditioning, we pride ourselves on making this experience fairly ‘autopilot’ and easy for our clients. Our technicians are in constant communication with our management team and our expert mechanical engineers to ensure you receive maintenance solutions of the highest quality. Our services can be tailored to suit your commercial needs and budget.

We have highly trained and qualified technicians, fully acquainted with all mechanical, refrigeration and ventilation systems, and we are authorised by ARCtick. We are on call 24/7 to provide reliable breakdown services and can assist in any emergency situation, getting your unit back up and running in as little time as possible.

If you’re wanting to invest in a quality commercial air conditioning system, or you’re interested in our maintenance and servicing packages, feel free to contact Equilibrium Air conditioning today on (02) 9439 4822. We encourage you to protect your investment in air conditioning equipment through proper care. In doing this, you’ll have a reliable, energy efficient system for years to come.

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Equilibrium supports the Tour de PIF and the ride to fight MS

November 9th, 2018 by

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There are many worthy causes around and we know it is important to regularly ‘get on your bike’ for charity, excuse the pun. At Equilibrium Air Conditioning, we believe in giving back to the community. Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to support a couple of people who literally ‘got on their bike’ for extremely worthy causes, the Tour de PIF Charity Ride and the MS Sydney to the Gong Ride.

Tour de PIF

Equilibrium was happy to sponsor one of our project partners from Built as he participated in the 2018 Tour de PIF charity ride on Friday, October 19th, raising vital funds for young, homeless Australians. Across Australia, there are 44,000 young people who are homeless and sleeping on our streets each night. We believe Australia to be a lucky and prosperous country, and yet this is an extremely confronting statistic in regards to our youth. In conjunction with the Property Industry Foundation, Built and other industry members would like to tackle the issue, and provide a way for helping young people to rebuild their lives.

All funds raised from the Tour de PIF event go towards the PIF House Program which builds homes and provides care for vulnerable children and youth. They have set a goal of building 125 bedrooms from 2017-2022, and we would love to see this achieved. Well done to the approximate 300 riders, and 270 walkers who took on Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Central Coast, raising a record amount of $350,000!!

MS Sydney to the Gong Ride

On Sunday 4th November, another project partner from Multiplex participated in the MS Sydney to the Gong ride with his team, “Lower North Shore Krankies”, raising much needed funds for Multiple Sclerosis. We were, once again, happy to sponsor the efforts of one of our valued project partners in raising funds for a worthy cause. Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating illness impacting the lives of around 25,600 Australians.

A popular event over the last 37 years, the Sydney to the Gong attracts cyclists from all walks of life to support their friends and family members who are battling MS. In 2018, an impressive $3,026,848 was raised and will be donated to help provide vital services and support for those living with multiple sclerosis. What a fantastic achievement.

 

As 2018 draws to a close, we feel grateful for the many opportunities we have had throughout the year to give back to the community that we love. As a business, we try to help where we can in lending a hand to those who need it most, and we look forward to the many projects and events and causes that will come our way in 2019. We wish everyone a Happy and Safe Christmas, and a fantastic start to the New Year.

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Why we need to actively work to reduce our carbon footprint

September 6th, 2018 by

carbon footprint

At Equilibrium Air Conditioning, we believe in sustainable practices that will reduce our carbon footprint, and preserve our beautiful planet for generations to come. We believe commercial industries have an obligation to the environment, which is why we are proud to partner with Green Building Council Australia, and consistently work towards Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) principles. All our projects are designed and constructed with sustainability factored in. We have Green Star accreditation, ensuring we remain current on the latest innovations and technology pertaining to our industry.

If the carbon footprint left behind by your business is not something you’ve previously given much thought to, now is the time to make some changes. What, exactly, is your carbon footprint? It’s the amount of greenhouse gas you/your business is personally responsible for. Greenhouse gases are directly responsible for global warming and climate change. At Equilibrium, all project managers are held responsible for ensuring that each project is assessed for reduction in energy consumption and that waste is minimised. This allows us to significantly decrease the carbon footprint resulting from building our HVAC systems.

The reality is, there’s a lot of everyday activities that increase greenhouse gases. For example, cooking our food and even breathing will release small amounts in to the air each day. Your food, clothing, transport and entertainment choices within your personal life also have great impact on our environment. These can all be managed to reduce your personal footprint, but what can commercial entities do to reduce theirs? It is a known fact that corporations make higher contributions to C02 emissions entering our atmosphere each day/year. However, if we are going to try and combat global warming and climate change, businesses need to do what they can to respect our environment and reduce this effect.

Not only is sustainability a moral obligation for businesses, there are legal obligations as well. For detailed information on the current Australian Environmental legislation, licences and permits, read here. The pressure to make changes to business practice will only continue as the problem becomes more and more imperative to address. Some businesses have even found that employing environmentally friendly practices, such as utilising alternative energy sources, has even reduced production and operating costs. There is much to look forward to when it comes to embracing “green” business practices.

Essentially, if we don’t start to actively reduce our carbon footprint soon, climate change will one day become disastrous. Maybe not in our own lifetime, but future generations will have live with the consequences of our actions. Experts predict that eventually, Earth’s temperature will continue to rise and become uncontrollable. Our ozone layer will then be in danger of vanishing, at which point we have no protection from harmful UV sun rays. This will make Earth virtually uninhabitable. Ice in Antarctica will melt, resulting in rising sea levels and a worldwide flood. Sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster, doesn’t it? As you can imagine, it’s pretty bleak.

The good news is, it isn’t too late to start focusing on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. It’s not too late to prioritise the environment, and even though it takes some effort, it can be done. If you’d like to know more about our own efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our HVAC productions, or if you’d like to invest in this area using a company that is Green Star Certified, please contact our friendly team on (02) 9439 4822.

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Is there a link between office temperature comfort and productivity?

August 14th, 2018 by

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Being in the commercial air conditioning business, it’s our job to ensure efficient, high-quality solutions are engineered for each of our clients. They rely on this effective temperature control for many things, but did you know that staff productivity is one of them?  Think about it for a moment… if it’s 30 degrees Celsius in an office, do you feel like working- or walking out and making a beeline for the beach?

For many years, it was common belief that the cooler the room temperature, the better office productivity. Scientific research conducted in Helsinki in 2006 even backed up this theory, however, a further study has surfaced and contradicted the verdict. Cornell University’s ergonomics study on office temperature revealed that “chilly workers” make more errors, whereas, workers in warm conditions had far fewer typing errors and significantly higher typing output.

While Helsinki concluded optimal office temperature to be 22 degrees Celsius, Cornell suggested a more “balmy” 25, as this was the point at which mistakes fell and output rose. As an added bonus, the study also found that warmer office climates produced warmer interpersonal communications between employees. Unsurprisingly, warmth is associated with feelings of affection, kindness and respect, and this was reflected in the way staff would interact.

Whatever temperature level you believe is optimal within your own personal office environment, it’s a fact that personal comfort among employees facilitates the best conditions for office productivity. Another factor to consider is humidity, which has a universally negative impact on office morale. In order to maintain superior air quality, minimal humidity and a consistent temperature, you’re going to need air conditioning solutions that are tailor designed to your office size and requirements.

At Equilibrium, we specialise in designing, installing and servicing climate control systems for commercial developments. We find the best solution for projects and we’re fully automated with computer aided estimating, design, drafting and management control. Our portfolio includes industries such as; healthcare, education, retail and industrial construct. All industries involving extensive amounts of employees and requiring top performance from them at all times.

If your commercial premises needs new or updated air conditioning solutions, don’t hesitate to contact our team on (02) 9439 4822.

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What is the Green Building Council of Australia- It’s not easy being green, but we can.

August 3rd, 2018 by

Green Building Council Australia (1)

At Equilibrium Air Conditioning, we are committed to sustainability and looking out for future generations by being environmentally responsible. This is a key consideration in the design and construct of all our projects. We are proud to be members of the Green Building Council of Australia and we’re actively working towards Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) principles.

What is the Green Building Council of Australia? The GBCA is comprised of more than 600 individual companies with an annual turnover collectively exceeding $40 billion. This extensive group of companies employs over 50,000 staff across Australia.  The industries represented within GBCA is varied and includes; major developers, banks, superannuation funds, professional services firms, product manufacturers, retailers and suppliers. GBCA also includes a number of local and state government departments and land organisations, as well as having 18 university members.

Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, has said of the work done by GBCA, “We are proud to work collaboratively across government and industry to deliver healthier, more productive, sustainable and resilient places for people.”

In 2016, a new strategy was released by GBCA focusing on leading a carbon positive industry. This new strategic plan supports the vision of providing a healthy, resilient and progressive place for people and the natural environment. The aim is to lead the sustainable transformation of the built environment by achieving the four goals below:

  • PLANET: Drive a carbon positive industry
  • PEOPLE: Foster liveable and sustainable communities and cities
  • INDUSTRY: Broaden market transformation
  • REGION: Increase regional influence

Equilibrium Air Conditioning are proud to partner with an organisation that is pioneering the way to a healthier future for our planet. We actively promote the use of sustainable solutions and enthusiastically seek alliances with like-minded suppliers and industry groups. Our project managers are made responsible for guaranteeing each project is completed with optimal reductions in energy consumption and waste in mind, and that a minimal carbon footprint is made during the building and production of HVAC systems. It’s not easy being green, but it can be done. With teamwork and cooperation, planning and care, we can reduce human impact on the Earth’s environment and ensure it stays beautiful for generations to come.

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