Stage 2 project update – August 2019

Stage 2 of the Joint Engineering Precinct is nearing completion. The new chillers are in position, the cooling towers erected and the pipework which joins them together is complete. The yellow access platforms and hand rails have added a welcome contrast to the grey and black of the cooling towers.

The next step is to fill the system with water and pressure test the system to prove its integrity.

Meanwhile the chiller plant room is a hive of activity with power supplies being run to the various panels, pumps and chillers. The new chiller control panel is mounted and ready to go. The control cabling is beginning to unravel and connect to the many control systems, sensors and meters. The last task will be to re-surface the plant room floor which has taken a bit of a hammering.

Commissioning is due to commence the week beginning 26 August and chilled water will once more circulate from the Hawken chiller plant room.

This will mark the end of a long journey which started with the innocent suggestion that the AEB and Hawken chilled water systems be connected together.

New cooling tower installation
New cooling tower installation - August 2019

Update – June 2019

Stage 2 of the Joint Engineering Precinct is literally in full swing with the removal of old cooling towers and chillers from the Hawken Engineering Building (50). Once the summer temperatures had abated the last of the old chillers in Hawken could be safely decommissioned and work could commence.

On 11 May 2019, a 55 Tonne crane was wedged into the lane between Don Nicklin Building (74) and Hawken Engineering Building (50) for the tricky task of removing the five old cooling towers from the roof. Meanwhile, the old chiller in the Hawken chiller plant room was taken out to Coopers Road, awaiting kerb side collection.

The new high efficiency chillers and cooling towers were installed to the Hawken Engineering building in June. This will lift the capacity of the chilled water system to meet the future expansion of the precinct. The system will be fully commissioned by September 2019 ready for the return of peak air conditioning loads in summer.

The project has not been without disruption to the normal functioning of the surrounding buildings. This has included roads being partially blocked, lanes closed, power interrupted and air conditioning and fume cupboard systems shutdown. The co-operation and understanding shown by building occupants throughout the project has been exceptional and this is greatly appreciated.

Joint Engineering Precinct chillers
Installation of chillers and cooling towers on Hawken Engineering
Joint Engineering Precinct crane lift
Joint Engineering Precinct crane lift
Joint Engineering Precinct chilled water
Joint Engineering Precinct chilled water removed from Hawken Engineering Building

Update - 18 October 2018

Stage 1 of the Joint Engineering Precinct to connect the chilled water systems between the Advanced Engineering Building (AEB -14) and Hawken Engineering Building (50) was completed on schedule in June 2018. The anticipated energy savings were already being delivered with an overall saving of 262,000 kWh to the end of September 2018 which is worth $36,700. This was well on target to meet the predicted annual savings of $100k per annum.

The amazing aspect of the energy savings is that even though the AEB chillers are now serving 8 buildings instead of 3, the additional electrical load imposed on AEB for this period has only increased by 13,000 kWh. This is due to the higher running efficiency of the chillers with the increased load. It is almost the case that we are getting the additional chilled water for free.

Stage 2 will add more capacity to the combined system such that there will be enough chilled water to serve the new Andrew N Liveris building. This contributes a significant capital cost saving for the new building and relinquishes valuable floor space for other priorities. The shared load and redundancy of the extended chilled water system will produce overall gains in both energy consumption and plant maintenance.

Project scope

The joint engineering precinct is a two-stage project that will:

  • connect two neighbouring chilled water systems to improve overall energy consumption
  • replace old, inefficient chiller plant
  • provide enough chilled water capacity to air condition the new Andrew N. Liveris building.

Stage 1 of the project  will join the two existing chilled water systems in the Advanced Engineering Building (AEB) and the Hawken building. 

Stage 2 of the project will involve expanding the capacity of this combined system to accommodate the 11-storey Andrew N. Liveris building.

The four Hawken chillers serve the engineering chilled water precinct, and are some of the oldest and most inefficient chillers at UQ. Three of have reached their end-of-life stage and still use refrigerant R22, which is being phased out.

The relatively new AEB features modern, efficient chillers with plenty of spare capacity. If these chillers were given an additional workload, they would run more efficiently.

The “business as usual” approach would simply replace the old chillers in the Hawken building with new ones. However, by joining the two precincts together, the AEB chillers will operate more efficiently and achieve an overall energy reduction of 800,000 kWh, worth $100,000 per annum.


AEB chiller
(click to enlarge)
New chilled water pumps
(click to enlarge)
New AEB pipework
(click to enlarge)