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.