Located in Neutral Bay on the north shore of Sydney Harbour, HMAS Platypus is a totem of Australia’s naval history. Originally commissioned in 1967 as a sheltered anchorage for six Oberon Class submarines, Platypus was decommissioned in 1999 when those subs had also completed their service. The site was refurbished in 2019 into a waterfront precinct open to the public.

“The aim of the refurb was to maintain the history of the site, while making the buildings more contemporary for the modern public,” says Rebecca Steffanoni, Territory Sales Rep for Big Ass Fans. “Keeping a free flowing element between the internal and external environment was really important, as was ensuring the design had minimal environmental impact, and was incredibly energy efficient.”

Big Ass Fans supplied - unsurprisingly - a number of large fans to increase ventilation and occupant comfort in the updated buildings. “When it comes to cooling, you can have fans, air conditioning, or a mixture of both”, says Rebecca. “Air conditioning is effective but very energy intensive, and in a project like this - where the buildings are designed to be open and let wind through - very inefficient.

For a project like HMAS Platypus where fans are the sole source of cooling, and energy efficiency is of top priority, Big Ass Fans do their due diligence to ensure that the effects of any installed fans will be maximised. “We work closely with the architects and designers to really understand what the requirements are. We look at things like window placement, building shape and position - it all comes into play when you’re designing for thermal comfort,” says Rebecca. “Then we’ll run software models to look at how fans will affect ventilation, and ultimately the cooling effect that will have on the space. It gets quite technical.”

Apart from the obvious sustainability benefits of not continuously running air conditioning to cool a space, the energy efficiencies that can be realised by installing a large ceiling fan are incredible. The Essence fans that were installed for HMAS Platypus range from 2.4-4.3 metres diameter and can provide the same air movement as 64 standard ceiling fans, at just a fraction of the wattage. High-torque direct drive motors deliver the requisite power to keep the blades moving, while keeping operation almost silent.

In a time where the global temperature is rising and people - particularly in larger public or commercial spaces - rely more and more on air conditioning to maintain thermal comfort, fans are a great solution. Industrial size fans can move significant air volumes quickly, silently, and most importantly, without using a significant amount of energy. They added both functional and aesthetic value to HMAS Platypus, as they will do for any space.

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