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How can building controls reduce costs and complaints?

Did you know that low-cost actions – like cleaning air-conditioning filters – can reduce your energy costs and boost your NABERS rating by half a star?

This was just one of the secrets revealed by a panel of experts at a Total Facilities discussion hosted by CitySwitch in April.

Our panellists included Michael Thompson, a sustainability manager with JLL, Alberta McAteer, a senior project officer with NABERS, and Christhina Candido, who leads the Building Occupants Survey System Australia, or BOSSA, tool at the University of Sydney.

The panel’s advice was clear. Make simple actions, like building tuning, a priority before you turn to more expensive options like building upgrades.

Five low-cost solutions to improve the efficiency of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are:

  1. Switch off: check and tweak automatic timers, and look for opportunities to increase the ‘dead band’, or range of temperatures in which no heating or cooling is required
  2. Undertake basic maintenance: simple building tuning, and measures like cleaning filters, can improve a NABERS star rating
  3. Review the building management system: take the time to commission and tune
  4. Consider your leases: ensure lease agreements encourage NABERS IEQ ratings, allow for flexibility in set points and support wide dead bands
  5. Measure to manage: measurement can help you understand your HVAC system, control costs and validate the effectiveness of actions.

Set point adjustments, in particular, can be a contentious issue with facilities managers who fear complaints from building occupants. But the panel pointed to studies which have found 15-20 per cent of building occupants will always be unhappy with the set temperature. “Don’t fight the dissatisfaction,” the panel warned. “Expanding the set points to 25oC will not change this – as often complaints aren’t about temperature at all.”

Sometimes behavioural change is at the heart of the challenge. Try to relax the dress code or expand the dead band and “see what happens”, the panel advised.

The best plan of attack is to start with simple actions that build credibility. “Then it’s easier to get larger measures over the line.” The result? More comfortable spaces, happier tenants, smaller energy bills and a lower carbon footprint.



Learn more about how to set green lease agreements with the Better Building Partnership’s Best Practice Leasing Guide, or take action mid-lease with our standard MoU template.




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