Located in Southbank overlooking the Yarra River, Arts Centre Melbourne is Australia’s largest performing arts venue, including three theatre spaces and a concert hall. Arts Centre Melbourne completed an 18-month project that upgraded the chiller and heating hot water systems.

Johnson Controls was appointed by Arts Centre Melbourne to manage the project, which involved removing all end of life equipment, refurbishing the plant room, installing six YORK chillers, and two natural gas burners. Two boilers and six cooling towers were also refurbished and a CPO 10 Plant Manager system integrated to automate the chiller plant room.

This major project came with many challenges as the entire system needed to remain fully operational while the work was carried out. Johnson Controls was also required to collaborate with the National Gallery of Victoria as Arts Centre Melbourne supplies the gallery with chilled and heated hot water. This meant taking into consideration major events that were being hosted at the time, which was particularly important for the National Gallery of Victoria due to strict guidelines with space conditions for its valuable, priceless artworks.

The busy St Kilda Road location also presented a number of challenges which included managing large deliveries, cranage and rigging, and at times overseeing road closures.

Johnson Controls project included decommissioning all end of life equipment, installing a new chiller plant, refurbishing the heating hot boilers, and modernizing the heating hot water distribution system. Additionally, the large mechanical plant inside the basement plant room was to be demolished and a new direct digital control (DDC) plant manager system integrated with an existing Honeywell building automation system. It was also imperative that the system remained operational throughout the project.

Johnson Controls decommissioned the chillers in stages to ensure that the installation of large components was managed efficiently and that the system was able to function while the project was being carried out.

To allow Arts Centre Melbourne to continue supplying water to the National Gallery of Victoria, Johnson Controls began the preparation work and boiler refurbishment during the warmer months.

As the weather cooled, the six chillers were decommissioned two at a time, along with associated pumps and pipework. The two new chillers and equipment were installed and fully operational before the next two chillers were withdrawn from service. This process helped control the site conditions and minimize disruptions.

The Johnson Controls YORK® YMC2 1,800W magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller was chosen for its energy efficiency and flexible control options under different loads. Arts Centre Melbourne had YORK® chillers installed previously and wanted to remain with the YORK® brand for the new upgrades. A Johnson Controls Chiller Plant Optimizer (CPO 10) was also selected.

Replacing the chiller plant involved managing many large components, including six new 1,800kW YORK® YMC2 variable-speed centrifugal water-cooled chillers with a total plant capacity of 10,800kW. Twelve new primary chilled water pumps with two new condenser water pumps and nine new secondary chilled water pumps were specified.

Refurbishment of six cooling towers located in the forecourt of the National Gallery of Victoria was also part of the work, as well as primary control system integration and a chemical treatment system.

A new high-performance, energy-efficient heating hot water loop was also installed, consisting of two new natural gas fired variable speed enterprise burners (boiler three being a dual-fuel diesel) with a total plant capacity of 7,200kW. Three new primary heating hot water pumps and air dirt separator were installed. Refurbishment of boilers one and three included new stay and flue tubes, and pipe work alterations created a primary and secondary system.

Johnson Controls Australia successfully completed this project within 18 months, while keeping the central plant rooms for both Arts Centre Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria fully operational throughout all seasons with minimal disruption.

Due to the number of technical and logistical challenges, a high level of engineering expertise was required, as was meticulous project management. There were up to 20 subcontractor companies working simultaneously on site, which the Johnson Controls team was required to work around.

“While the assets had reached the end-of-life phase, we took the opportunity to push for energy savings, and given the size of the plant and equipment, we’ve achieved a very positive outcome.”

Officials said Arts Centre Melbourne is now enjoying the benefits from the new equipment installation, which is delivering greater energy efficiency. The chillers alone are saving the venue approximately 1,029,234 kWhrs (November 2016 to June 2017) — an average of 27% in energy reduction.