Air Conditioning: Policy and Procedures

Document Number000528


An energy management study which considered all aspects of energy usage and cost highlighted the extent to which the University resources are absorbed by energy consumption and costs. It is estimated that over 30% of expenditure has related to heating, ventilation and air conditioning. A five year plan has now been put into place which when completed will provide substantial ongoing cost savings to the University, as well as a major contribution to the broader community goals of energy conservation.

Air conditioning systems in particular are expensive to install, operate, maintain and ultimately replace. With few exceptions none of the University's buildings were designed to be fully air conditioned. Only selected areas within some buildings have since been provided with a controlled environment dependent on the functions to be performed in those areas. Extending the air conditioning within these buildings generally is not a simple task, and in many cases is not possible due to lack of riser and plant room space and limited electrical capacity.

It is the long term aim to rationalise air conditioning installations and to reduce if not eliminate the proliferation of multiple package air conditioning units serving only small areas within buildings. This aim has been incorporated into the ongoing campus rehabilitation and infrastructure master planning.


New buildings will continue to be designed to be energy efficient. They will incorporate contemporary passive and solar design features which will enhance the scope for natural ventilation and environmental control. Only selected, essential areas will be air conditioned.

New air conditioning installations in existing buildings will be permitted only in those essential areas where a controlled environment is critical to the functions performed. Such areas generally will be limited to:

  • selected laboratories or parts thereof;
  • certain animal house areas;
  • rooms containing large scale computer installations and/or electronic equipment which require temperature control as a condition of the manufacturer's warranty;
  • certain areas within libraries; and
  • certain lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, seminar rooms, and other teaching facilities, dependent on size and orientation.

Comfort air conditioning will not normally be provided unless there are special circumstances which justify such installations.

New air conditioning installations shall normally meet the following guidelines:

  • each installation must be capable of future extension or inclusion in a central plant system able to service adjacent areas in the building concerned where this can be reasonably achieved;
  • systems proposed must be technically sound, energy efficient and in conformance with the University's Energy Management Program;
  • equipment locations must be aesthetically, architecturally and environmentally acceptable; and
  • installation costs shall include a component contribution towards infrastructure renewal and power upgrading costs.

All new air conditioning installations and any modification of existing installations must be pre-arranged through the Facilities Management service portfolio. In particular, the approval of the Executive Director, Facilities Management is necessary before any installation or modification is proceeded with.


Request for Installation

All requests for new or replacement installations and for modifications to existing installations should be directed in the first instance to the Manager, Operations, Facilities Management. A funded requisition form must be signed by the head of the cost centre. Requests for air conditioning work will be decided by the Executive Director, Facilities Management in consultation with the Director, Facilities Planning and the Manager, Operations.

The Manager, Operations will arrange for each request to be examined and provide advice in respect of:

  • the selection of a system which will meet the requesting unit's requirements and conform to University policy on standardisation and energy management;
  • the location of the system, after considering;
    • building aesthetics, condition, function and future use;
    • noise and accessibility
    • availability of services, eg. electrical power;
    • Code requirements; and
    • the location and type of any existing air conditioning plant.
  • the operating and maintenance procedures for the system; and
  • an estimate of costs, including:
    • purchase and installation costs, and
    • operating costs (including electricity, servicing, maintenance and breakdown repairs).

Other criteria which will be considered in the assessment of proposals include:

  • the location of the area/s proposed for air conditioning, in relation to existing systems and the infrastructure master plan;
  • suitability of the building fabric to accommodate air conditioning installation and permit economical and cost efficient performance;
  • the age, nature and condition of the building and its status within the major maintenance and refurbishment program; and
  • the need for all new air conditioning installations to comply with all relevant and statutory Code requirements.

Requesting units must be prepared to meet all costs associated with new and replacement air conditioning installations and modifications. These costs will include:

  • all purchase and installation costs, including
    • a fee of 15% for the consultant and specialist staff needed for the design, documentation and administration of the works;
    • any upgrading of the building power supply needed for the unit to operate;
    • any passive building treatment to minimise the air conditioning load;
    • any works to modify, improve, or reinstate internal and/or external building fabric;
    • associated energy management devices; and
    • a component contribution towards infrastructure renewal and campus HV power upgrading.
  • all servicing and maintenance, based on manufacturer's recommendations and to be charged annually;
  • all breakdown repair costs, to be charged as they occur; and
  • if a system is removed and not replaced, the cost of reinstating the building fabric.

An annual charge for electricity will be levied based on the category of system installed, with rates to be reviewed annually to reflect changes in supply tariffs. Details of categories will be advised by Facilities Management.

Facilities Management

Facilities Management will provide the following services in actioning requests for air conditioning:

  • conduct initial feasibility investigation and provide an indicative cost estimate for purchase and installation;
  • arrange and/or undertake detailed investigation and design work;
  • advise anticipated annual operating costs and electricity charges;
  • as necessary, obtain statutory approvals;
  • where appropriate, prepare tender documentation, invite and receive tenders, and arrange installation contracts;
  • supervise all installation works, including any ancillary building operations and other upgrading works; and
  • service and maintain installed systems.


This revised air conditioning policy is effective from 1 January 2002. The policy is equally applicable to proposals to relocate existing systems and/or to replace systems which have reached the end of their economic life. Enquiries may be directed to the following:

Mechanical Engineer/Energy Manager ext 6507 Manager, Operations, ext 7210, Executive Director, Facilities Management ext 6563


This document is based upon Air Conditioning Policy guidelines for the University of NSW Facilities Department.
Approval AuthorityVice-Chancellor
Policy SponsorDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Services)
Policy OwnerDirector, Facilities Management
Policy ContactMechanical Engineer