NABERS Rating was conceptualised to promote energy-efficient and sustainable commercial buildings.
The NABERS rating system measures building performance using a star rating on a scale of 0 to 6. A zero star indicates the building’s performance is below average and has a huge scope for improvement. On the other hand, a six-star rating demonstrates industry-leading performance with optimal energy utilisation.
A 6-star rated commercial building will produce 50% fewer greenhouse gases when compared to a 5 Star NABERS rated building. Similarly, for residential buildings, energy efficiency is demonstrated using a BASIX certificate.
What Is HVAC System?
HVAC system comprises heating, cooling, and ventilation components that ensure maintaining a comfortable internal thermal temperature. The HVAC system is a primary energy consumer in both residential and commercial sectors.
Therefore, efficient heating and cooling systems can lead to increased energy consumption, therefore, building performance, costly energy base, and ultimately low NABERS rating.
What Are The Benefits Of An Energy-Efficient HVAC System?
Improving the efficiency of HVAC systems will deliver you a plethora of benefits, including:
- Reduced operational costs
- Reduce heating and cooling equipment downtime
- Less carbon footprint, which can contribute to net-zero targets
- Improved equipment performance minimising excessive operation.
- Enhanced zone conditions, including ventilation, thermal, and compliance
- Improved occupant satisfaction.
Ensuring your heating and cooling systems perform optimally is crucial to increasing your NABERS star rating. So how do you do that?
Common HVAC Issues That Can Lead To Increased Energy Consumption
- Short cycling: A situation where your HVAC system turns on and off frequently. This can lead to increased pressure and more energy consumption.
- Unusual noise: Generally indicates a fault within your HVAC system. Continued usage without maintenance will lead to further damage, increased energy bills, and hefty repair bills.
- Thermostat issues: A faulty thermostat can also lead to short cycling, translating into greater energy consumption.
- Moisture in wrong places: Refrigerant leaks and broken or blocked drain pipes are mostly the culprits behind moisture in unwanted places. This is a serious problem and needs immediate attention to avoid faulty and inefficient operations.
All these conditions might bring down your NABERS rating.
Also Read: Solar Panels And NatHERS 7-Star Rating: What’s the Connection?
4 Practical Ways To Improve The Efficiency Of Your HVAC System
Follow Adequate Maintenance and Checkup Schedules
The primary step in improving the efficiency of the HVAC system is that you follow a regular maintenance and checkup schedule. HVAC components such as air handling units (AHUs), chillers, and boilers require proper maintenance to deliver consistent peak performance.
The energy efficiency of the HVAC system is a vital component of both NABERS star rating and the BASIX certificate.
Some key actions from a maintenance perspective on equipment that will impact energy efficiency are as follows:
Air Handling Units (AHUs)
- Cleaning water coils.
- Ensuring zero air leaks from panels or water leaks from any coils and pipes.
- Ensure secured and fluid-tight damper linkages. Check for any leakages.
- Check key control sensors calibration (temperature, humidity, differential pressure, etc.)
- Check control sensor calibration (temperature, differential pressures).
- Ensure no water leaks.
- Ensure adequate water levels in the system.
- Ensure boiler insulation is properly installed.
- Check control sensor calibration (temperature, differential pressures)
- Ensure cleaning the strainers
- Thoroughly clean the chiller tubes and filters
- Confirm accurate oil levels
Minimise Unnecessary and Extensive Operation
One of the primary reasons for extensive HVAC equipment energy consumption is excessive operation.
This can be due to poor time schedule management or, in most cases, equipment not having an automatic operation control.
This mostly happens after the maintenance activities when the automatic function might get overridden with a manual function.
Implementing efficient operation protocols can improve your NABERS rating. You can use several tools to measure your building’s operational energy efficiency.
Proper Physical Installation
Improper installation can significantly affect HVAC efficiency.
- For example, temperature sensors located near vending machines can give incorrect readings leading to excessive operation of the cooling unit.
- A poorly installed sensor in a duct can also misread the return air temperature, leading to impaired free cooling potential.
Connect with a building consultant to ensure proper planning on the HVAC units and improve NABERS rating.
Check For Air Leaks And Ensure Adequate Sealing
Any ductwork running through unconditioned areas should be sealed accurately to avoid leaking out of conditioned air.
- Large air leaks are easy to spot, but the smaller ones are tricky to discover. Hire professional services to check for air leaks during maintenance visits.
- They can help you determine how thick the insulating material needs to be for the efficient functioning of the HVAC system.
- Inadequate home insulation will lead to escaping of the conditioned air. Consequently, the HVAC units need to operate for a longer duration and with more intensity, leading to excessive energy consumption.
- Consider integrating insulation into walls and selecting energy-efficient windows. All these considerations can contribute to an energy-efficient commercial structure and increased NABERS rating.
Improving the NABERS rating can increase the market demand and value of your commercial property. Connect with professional building consultants to gain sustainability credentials on your commercial real estate projects.
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