HVAC overview

What is HVAC?

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) electricity consumption typically accounts for around 40% of total building consumption and 70% of base building (i.e. landlord) electricity consumption. It provides fresh air, control of the indoor temperature and provides comfort the building occupants. The installation, operation and maintenance of the HVAC system are the responsibility of the building owner. Under a net lease, tenants contribute to base building costs through their outgoings.  Under a gross lease the building owner pays for energy costs for the base building services. Tenants will pay the energy bills for any supplementary HVAC plus additional appliances including fans and heaters installed on their floor.

Why adjust heating and cooling?

Understanding the contribution heating and cooling makes to electricity consumption is important so that tenants’ actions can enhance and support the green activity of their building operators. For tenants, avoiding unnecessary heat from equipment and considering issues like air-flow when doing office fit-outs means that your floor is not working against the buildings’ own systems and unnecessarily increasingly energy load. It will help make the whole building greener and more efficient, unlocking further savings.

Resetting the indoor temperature by 1 degree can make an approximate 5-10% energy saving for the base building, so a little flexibility in temperatures can offer big emission and energy savings without compromising occupant comfort. 

Further, good indoor environment air quality can have a significant effect on worker productivity and influences how people perceive their workplace.

How to improve HVAC performance

Tenants can help improve HVAC systems in several ways:

  • a preference for high performing buildings with good NABERS ratings
  • making energy savings throughout the tenancy that reduce heat load on the  HVAC Systems
  • working with facilities management to optimise the base building’s heating and cooling efficiency, including the temperature settings
  • considering the impact on base building heating and cooling systems when doing fit-outs or refurbishments
  • undertaking NABERS indoor environment quality (IEQ) ratings.


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Related resources

BCO Guide to improving the environmental performance of offices

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Low Energy High Rise Project

Research and information for building operators by the Warren Centre showing how NABERS ratings can be improved but up to one star, with very low or no capital cost.

EEX: Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning

A comprehensive resource from the Energy Efficiency Exchange on reducing demand, optimising service, and upgrading HVAC services to improve overall energy performance.

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HVAC maintenance and operation techniques can be adjusted to save money, reduce emissions and keep occupants comfortable. This Australian Government guide and fact sheets are for  those working with the maintenance and operation of HVAC systems,to help improve energy and water efficiency.

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