Tag Archives: ESD

What Your Mechanical Engineer Can Do for You?

 What Your Mechanical Engineer Can Do for You?

“Only an ESD consultant can do ESD”

Specialisation in Australia has led to a vast amount of knowledge and ‘know-how’ being wasted. Worse we are paying for another level of consulting, which can be very well handled by your existing core consulting team (Architect and Engineers).

To ‘draw that duct’, your mechanical engineer has at his fingertips, all the sites; climate data (including rain, solar, wind, temperature, humidity and so); has evaluated your fabric; considered shading, day lighting, equipment efficiencies; wall temperatures and colours and the like.

With this information all the ESD output needed for a project can be delivered. The only thing missing is that you have just asked them to only ‘draw a duct’.

Some Items you might want to ask for are detailed below:

Is co-generation suitable?                       Gas Fired? Liquid Bio Fuel? Methane?
 Co-Gen Engine liquid bio-fuel
What size solar panels suit this site?
PV Chart
What shading is required to reduce Air Conditioning capacity (Façade Optimisation)?
 Window Shading Section  Window Shading Elevation
What is the average daylight level in a room? Is the room dark? Will lighting need to be turned on? SEPP 65 Day Light review
Room Daylight
Have I got interstitial condensation or surface condensation issues?
 Interstitial Condensation
Can I naturally ventilate that car park?
Can I remove all ductwork from a car park?


What air flow will I get with present openings…what openings should I have?
Single Stack Natural ventilation



Single Side Ventilation – two openings.


Air Conditioning Load reduction or load slowing by fabric selection (Façade Optimisation)
Energy (Heat) via Conduction Through Wall



Overall Load review (Sensible Heat)


How much rain will fall on this site?


What is the mass of the building?
Which AC System has the lowest running Cost?


 AHU2  AHUEnergyChart


What the prevalent wind direction?


Do I need air conditioning? How comfortable are occupants without air conditioning? Is free cooling an option?


What’s the pay back for; more insulation; LED lights; natural ventilation; shading devices; lighting control; co-gen, solar hot water; solar electricity, air con system 1 vs air con system 2; heat recovery and so on.
Can I use Geo thermal or ocean heat rejection to remove cooling towers?
How much energy is saved with a green roof?
Are zero carbon liquid bio fuels an option?
 liquid bio-fuel  Biogastank
Is gas fired air conditioning an option for my project?

In addition to the above most consultancies offer; Green Star, NATHERS, LEED, NABERS.

How did this happen?

Engineering, of old, was appreciated for good engineering and practioners focussed on excelling in the delivery of drawings and specifications.

As CO2 and energy relevance ‘took off’ in recent years, ESD companies saw a market. The engineers kept focused on drawing that duct.


The delivery of low energy products (buildings) is a team effort. To keep us on the ‘straight and narrow’, we have the BCA. To make it easier to see reward for our efforts, we have developed schemes where we get stars or numbers or both.

A modern mechanical engineer has all the necessary skills to deliver and assist in delivering low energy products. Often no additional fee is required.

As ever, it’s down to individuals. Find someone who has a drive and passion and technical ability to deliver low energy products and that’s your best choice.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Jorgen Knox PIC

Original Post Date: 19/02/2015

Contact e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE

LI: au.linkedin.com/pub/jorgen-knox/27/a44/506/



Greening our Buildings, Literally

Greening our Buildings, Literally

This post discusses green spaces in urban areas and proposes, any natural land we displace with a development, be exactly replaced or re-dispersed on the same development. This is simple and clear and doable and not a ‘more points’ in a ratings scheme.

What right have we?

Man creates massive urban areas. Soft areas become hard areas and species are pushed out of the way, or worse. Green areas (vegetation, soil, eco systems etc.) are replaced with a built environment.

A tad arrogant. Hey, but we are humans.

There are many natural cycles that occur that we are aware of, and I’m sure many, many, more we are not. Urbanisation can dramatically modify these natural cycles. The global attack on these natural cycles is not yet fully understood.

The water cycle below is certainly one such natural cycle affected by urbanisation.

Water Cycle

Other natural cycles include the carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle.

What can be done?

In truth, with our population growth, not a lot in the long game. However ‘going vertical’ will reduce our impact on land surface area and allow us more easily to replace that surface area on and within our new buildings.

As a starting point we could consider the following ideas.

Replace displaced

Any site prior to being urbanised must be accounted for, square meter by square meter, including oxygen producing trees, grass and so on. This natural green environment must be replaced as part of the development. A new role for our surveyors and quantity surveyors!

In practical terms this is achieved by green roofs (with deep soil), perimeter gardens on multiple levels, internal sun lit green courtyards, green walls and so on.

Green Roofs

Re Connect

Prior to a new development water and wildlife were provided with full access to the landscape. A new development is a ‘brick wall’, breaking and separating habitats and eco systems. Green corridors through our sites should be provided, allowing connection of green spaces.

In cities, we provide pavements for human connections. With some simple thinking even our cities can link our parks with green corridors (could even share with humans with a path), allowing animal and insect connection.

In Sydney we are building a new connection between the city and the Barangaroo area of the city. Great for humans, but so short sighted for our wildlife. The incorporation of green, deep verges within this connection, together with skylights for underground areas would have provided a natural connection corridor.

Bike lanes, tram ways, think green ways.

Green way

Green Corridor 2

Pay Back ($)

Ahh some of you are heading straight to the dollars. What will this cost? We can’t afford it. Well that’s one way of looking at it. Another way is back to the top of the page…what right have we. If we take away the natural environment, we need to pay for it or as I’m advocating re-disperse it in exactly the same quantity.

With a few more seconds of thought you can consider the big picture cost (not just the quick up front cost). You can now place a value on the greening of your buildings. There are schemes available to calculate the financial benefit to the community of your green building. Given these buildings will be around for decades, this is a lot of money added to the community. If I were a councillor reviewing a development this would be near the top of my list on an approval review.


Firstly its simply the right thing to do, but there are countless other benefits, including:

  • Un-sterilizes our world
  • Wild Life Increase
  • More Bees
  • Lowers city temperatures
  • Reduces dramatically earth sun-light reflection
  • Slows water run off
  • More oxygen
  • Less CO2
  • More areas to relax
  • Reduces air conditioning costs
  • Reduces glare
  • Provides areas for crops/fruit trees etc
  • Aesthetic and psychological benefits (less doctor visits)
  • Improved human health (less doctor visits)
  • Green walking/running tracks
  • Car free zones
  • storm water  runoff  reduction
  • carbon sequestration and  storage
  • Provision of shade
  • Human interaction zones
  • Increases property values
  • Air quality improvement
  • Species diversity
  • Increased tourism

Development Impact

Greening of our developments, literally, will require, for some, a reset on our present concept of building form and function.

It is likely building will need to be taller. This is simply inevitable anyway, given our human population growth. Reducing building heights to old DCP’s is just daft and planning departments are just slowing the inevitable. What should be happening is allowing building height increase and ensuring light to green spaces and green corridors. On the assumption global warming is real, we are going to want a lot more shaded spaces to move between in the future.

Additional height will be required to accommodate (structurally) mid level(s) of deep soil areas and deep soil roof gardens. Loss of lettable /saleable areas, to green areas, will need replacement areas to keep developments profitable, thus upward pressure (more levels).

Building shapes will change to accommodate mid level green areas allowing sunlight.

On smaller projects traditional roofs will change from a cheaper pitch construction to concrete roofs to allow for deep soil gardens.

Building Usage will change. Commercial ‘parties’ will move to commercialising these green areas. Roof top gardens will become garden centres, sporting facilities, with gym facilities below, wedding venues and so on.


As ever, words, words and words. To get this happening prior to any global catastrophic events will require legislation. Get it into the BCA (Building Code of Australia). It’s also down to our planners to organise an Australia wide set of planning rules to drive the greening of our buildings.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Original Date: 26/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE

Blog: https://engineeringbyjorgen.wordpress.com/
LI: au.linkedin.com/pub/jorgen-knox/27/a44/506/


Thermal Piles (There not painful)

Thermal Piles

This post discusses the often forgotten opportunity of incorporating thermal piles into your project.

‘Thermal piles’, you could use the term thermo-active foundations, if you prefer.

What Am I on about?

You need to dig a big hole as part of your development. This needs a piling rig and lots and lots of piles. Insert a reo cage, pore some concrete and finish up with a capping beam. Hey presto a piled retaining wall.


What opportunity did we miss?

Insert a plastic pipe in each pile and you’ve just removed the cooling towers from your project!

Piling with tube

How it works

Simple. You have just created a massive heat exchanger in the ground. You haven’t had to hire in a bore hole drilling rig. That came free of charge with the piling rig.

Hot water that normally went to a cooling tower to have the heat removed, with typical water temperatures at 29.5 oC and 35 oC, is now sent to the piles. So we have a heat exchanger maximum temperature difference of 35 to 17 oC (18 oC difference). This is great.


Ideally you would have the pile completely surrounded by earth (central structural pile). With edge piling you will have an exposed side. All good. This is taken into account and the number of piles with tubes in adjusted. If, as is typical you are building a dry wall in front of the piles, add air movement (as you would d in a car park exhaust system, from example) and you’ve just created another improvement to your ‘natural heat rejection system’.

The Detail

You need to consider:

  • Ground conditions for thermal sizing of tubes
  • Consideration of the concrete in the piles is required, for good thermal heat exchange. Thermally enhanced concrete means less tubes and is definitely recommended.
  • Excess tubes should be allowed in case of breakage and as a general safety.
  • You will need sign off from your structural engineer. My reading of the literature is the plastic tubes will have almost an irrelevant effect.
  • Dependant on the no. of piles you can achieve and given ground conditions will determine if you can do all of your cooling or heating or just base loads, with supplementary towers for peak loads.
  • Piles, driven, into the ground are obviously not up for consideration. Pile cages, pipes attached and concrete poured in after cage insertion is a preferred choice.

 Further Reading

As ever, the school of Google is a great source for all you will need on this subject.

Author: Jorgen Knox

Date: 15/08/2014

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI

It’s Complicated (The Green Thing)

It’s Complicated (The Green Thing)

This post discusses in layman’s terms Global Warming. Always a vex topic and I’m hoping I’ll start some healthy blog responses.

Humans – Can We Believe in Global Warming?

We are all different. Our ability to believe anything is a mixture of hard wiring, how we’ve been nurtured during our child hood, our working experiences and what we need to believe (to fit in to our social or work life).

So you can talk all day about the science of global warming and you might be right, but that only ticks a % box in an individual’s decision matrix.

Further the science of global warming whilst many say is settled, just isn’t.  So a rational decision based on science cant be made.

If Global Warming is occurring and all the predictions are true  a slow creep to extinction is occurring.   However to most of us  its not real yet. The human decision matrix hasn’t got to; let’s say, to a required 60% certainty  level. It will take natural world wide event(s) to get to ‘oh we need to do something moment…it is real’.

At a corporate level (and this is where most of us are, plying our skills and trades in the construction industry) there’s another level of thought process. Decisions are made on financial models, with the aim of growth or profit.

Summary: Generally, ‘head in the sand’ prevails, mixed with ‘there’s enough market out there to make some money’ or ‘I think people will like us more if we are a bit greener’.

From a simple cause and effect basis, I haven’t seen sea levels rise in Sydney Harbour yet.

ACADS BSG (local weather data provider for Australia) has recently updated their temperature files….they have not seen any temperature rises (the opposite).

What Can Be Done?

Again, lots of ‘science’ is out there. Some positive (we can fix things) and some negative (it’s too late). Some saying CO2 level increase is actually a good thing.

Negative View

  • The planets systems are to complex and massive
  • It’s a cyclic event in our planets history, it can’t be stopped
  • Stopping or reducing CO2 levels is a waste of time.

Many use the analogy of the massive ball rolling down a hill. It’s too late, the ball has started moving and we can’t stop it. At best we might deflect it a few, years.

It is interesting to hear our worldwide leaders already planning for a 2+ oC temperature rise…’read my lips’,  global warming can’t be stopped in their opinion, for at least, this first big temperature increase.






Positive View

The positive view comes down to believing global warming is due to man-made CO2 and if we can stop this, our planet will be able to recover. It assumes our best scientists know how the planets systems work and interact and their modelling is infallible. My experience with modelling is ‘rubbish in rubbish out’.

So, where are we at?

We have reached a status quo. Believers, non-believers and those who haven’t decided. Much of the undecided may well be down to the complexity of the data out there. It’s a hard slog to read it.

Our government (Australia) appears (at 2015) to not believe in global warming, but is providing some funding for greening.

There is still no massive climate events happening and weather data now appears to show we are in a cooling period.

Our industry, ran head long into the Green movement (getting star rated buildings everywhere), the industry wanted to pay for it (saw a marketing potential). That rush is now over. Many in the industry have ended up disillusioned with ‘green’ and its cost (to some extent) and its compliance requirements (to a large extent). I’ve been made aware of a lot of ‘green infrastructure’, now sitting idle. Was this infrastructure installed simply to get ‘green points’?

[See my previous posts about green points. For me it’s about reducing energy consumption and getting lower bills an dyes this removes CO2].

In typical human decision making process when you are unsure we get a compromise :

The compromise: We undertake CO2 reduction in a manner the nation can afford. (This is where the Australian government is presently at)…. you could be cynical and say this is to keep both sets of voters on board.

What will happen, however, due to politics, is that we will flip (with each government) to ‘Spend to save the planet’, to ‘we are in debt and the country’s going down the gurgler’.

For now, we will go with the compromise:

  • we will keep complying with the BCA (Building Code of Australia)
  • where mandated we will use the various rating schemes
  • where a marketing potential exists we will again use the various rating schemes.
  • industry suppliers will continue to improve their equipment efficiencies and we will reward them with sales.
  • New technology will be found to create electricity without CO2 emissions

Where I’m at?

Global Warming: I’m still undecided (or is that head in the sand), but leaning towards a naysayer. I’m struggling with the belief that man-made CO2 is the only reason for the alleged warming and that stopping CO2 emissions will stop the warming. Don’t forget we are now allegedly in a temporary a cooling period.

The real elephant in the room, on this subject, is population growth. Australia’s population growth I understand is at c.400,000 per year (a new Canberra to be built each and every year). This is horrifying and the physical impacts are huge.

Energy Reduction: Being practically minded I’d like to see the following:

  • BCA efficiency increase for plant and systems
  • BCA Fabric thermal performance increase
  • BCA mandated leak tests for new buildings
  • BCA mandated maximum watts per square for lighting and equipment
  • Industry standards being changed to mandate minimum and maximum room temperatures (lower in winter and higher in summer. Try 18 oC and 25 to 27 oC).
  • A reduction in fresh air supply rates for occupants, in air conditioned spaces.

With the above points I’d like to see an agreed ‘bar raising’, year on year. These simple points will do as much, or more than any rating systems to save energy (thus CO2). It will also give manufacturers, and the like, a clear instruction to get innovating. If we accept a 2 oC temperature rise is correct, we should be designing (preparing) for this now.

The little extra for me would include:

  • More money (with payback on sales) for new technology – to the private sector
  • More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with CO2 and energy reduction
  • More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with alternative forms of energy creation.


  • Tax free status for approved research and company development associated with CO2 and energy reduction.
  • Mandated 100% use of renewable fuels (fuels that can be grown). Obviously this comes with some practical issues to be resolved.

See link to funds an grants: : http://www.business.gov.au/grants-and-assistance/grant-finder/Pages/Search.aspx?collection=business-gov-au&profile=grant&search_type=grant&query=Energy

What Impact Can we have?

This is annoying. In our industry we can only impact global energy consumption and global CO2 in a small way.

The following link is a great source on our impact on the Construction industry. The link states “Construction produced 7.1% of total indirect greenhouse gas emissions in 1994-95”.


So are best efforts will not eliminate all the 7.1% and on a world basis anything we do will have negligible to zero impact…add in population growth and we can rightly start to feel useless.

Further Reading

This post has not gone into the detail or science of global warming from the various points of view. The web is chock-a-block with it. I recommend you get googling. Some great sites I’ve looked at are:




Author: Jorgen Knox

Last Updated: 10/08/2015

Contact: e: jorgenk@knoxadv.com.au, t: 02 800 33 100, w: KAE, LI