Australia's HVACR industry has been warned to prepare for much stricter energy efficiency standards in 2019.

And it isn't just one standard the industry needs to prepare for but several revised codes that are currently under review.

The biggest change relates to the new section J of Volume 1 of the National Construction Code (NCC). To be published in February 2019, the new code must first be approved by the Australian Building Codes (ABCB) Board later this month.

According to an ABCB spokesperson commercial buildings to be targeted include the common areas of apartment buildings (Class 2 buildings), Class 3 buildings and Class 5 to 9 buildings.

In a statement, the ABCB said: “Further changes are proposed to the commercial energy efficiency requirements, which are aimed at increasing the flexibility of the requirements and the number of compliance options available. This will promote innovation, reduce red tape for industry and improve interpretation and compliance with the NCC provisions.”

The ABCB has also updated its NCC Handbook to provide practitioners with sufficient knowledge to successfully apply energy efficiency requirements for multi-residential, commercial and public buildings.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has come out in support of stronger energy standards under the NCC.

ASBEC executive director, Suzanne Toumbourou, said the building code needs to be zero carbon ready.

“The council welcomes improvements to the 2019 NCC to advance energy performance in commercial buildings and adjustments for residential buildings,” she said.

The deputy director of Swinburne University's Centre for Urban Transitions, Professor Peter Graham, said new standards are necessary.

In fact, he said the goal should be net zero energy building codes before 2030.

“Every building constructed to Australia’s existing codes locks us in to energy demand and high emissions, and locks out a lot of opportunities for integrating renewables. It’s a race against time,” Professor Graham said.

“Old buildings need to be retrofitted so they're at least four times more energy efficient than they currently are, and all new buildings need to be near or net zero energy – that is either super low energy consuming buildings and/or buildings that have integrated renewable energy supply.”

Graham said its time to decarbonise the building sector. This means making buildings net producers of renewable energy rather than net consumers.

He said Australia's building industry is practical, and if standards change it will retool to meet those standards.

“Policy that resets the baseline to ambitious energy and sustainability performance would have a powerful effect on emission reduction,” he said.

Another draft code that is open for comment until November 22, 2018 is draft standard AS 5389 Space heating and cooling and ventilation systems – Calculation of energy and comfort performance.

According to Standards Australia, the new code is a method for calculating energy consumption and determining the comfort performance of space heating and cooling systems as well as ventilator systems. The draft standard uses a combination of test results for component performance, mathematical models of representative buildings, and parameters for comfort conditions.

The draft of AS 5389 includes methodologies for calculating annual purchased energy use, calculating displaced purchased energy relative to reference heating and cooling devices, and methodologies for determining comfort performance.

The method is applicable to products capable of space heating, cooling, or both; with or without sanitary water heating; and products capable of temperature and/or humidity controlled ventilation or heat exchange between zones of the building.

To comply with stricter standards, building owners and managers will be seeking out HVAC systems that don't just guarantee compliance but features smart technology that is easy to install and manage.

Its this capability that has set the biggest players apart from the rest of the market.

A good example is the release of Daikin's new VRV H (Heat Pump) and R (Heat Recovery) range which is equipped with new VRT Smart technology.

It's a significant step up from its predecessor with Daikin delivering more features coupled with greater simplicity.

Daikin's Variable Refrigerant Temperature technology was well received by customers but to take advantage of this feature it had to be set up during commissioning.

“Now it operates as standard,” according to Daikin's national commercial manager, Simon Langstaff.

“VRT Smart delivers improved part-load operations and better comfort for occupants; customers are getting much more control and comfort.”

Langstaff said this Series makes smaller adjustments, more regularly updating the evaporator temperature and fan speed every three minutes.

“The previous unit only adjusted one degree, every five minutes,” he said.

“It also takes into account the indoor temperature before making an adjustment and has a five speed indoor fan whereas the previous unit had a three speed fan.

“It incorporates variable air volume control of the indoor fan coil integrated with refrigerant temperature control from the condenser to deliver a system which responds rapidly to indoor load changes.”

Daikin's national product manager, Raj Singh, said another key feature is the new “K” type compressor which is available on selected VRV H models.

“It features a state-of-the-art back pressure control mechanism that improves low load operation by up to 24% when compared to VRV IV,” he said.

“This isn't just a few minor improvements this is a real upgrade that represents a new age of comfort and control.”

The VRV H and R Series are available in capacities from 16kW up to 168kw.

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