Green Square is a $250-million residential apartment development in Victoria Street, Abbotsford, situated just a few kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD.

Designed to offer premium riverside living, the luxury apartment project was developed by Salta Properties on a former Metropolitan Fire Brigade site. Over 400 luxury apartments across four buildings as well as 93 serviced apartments managed by Quest formed the first stage of the project. This upmarket development is designed around a dynamic outdoor recreational hub, and offers residents a host of on-site amenities including indoor/outdoor swimming pool, gymnasium, library, basement car parking and rooftop entertainment zone.

Salta Properties engaged Icon Construction as head contractor for the first stage of the Green Square project, and appointed multidisciplinary firm SJB Architects as architect and interior designer. Each building has been designed with its own individual lobby access, gathered around the large central green square, while the apartments open up to views across the Yarra, to the city or across the adjoining suburb of Richmond.

Consulting engineer Simpson Kotzman was appointed to the project, while local HVAC contractor Rival Air was engaged by Icon Construction to provide a quality, air conditioning and mechanical services solution.

The project brief for Rival Air sought a quality air conditioning and heating solution that matched the high end finish of the apartments. This meant all outdoor condensers were required to be located away from the apartments where they would not be visible and also avoid noise issues.

Rival Air’s managing director Andrew Stewart explained that the client did not want balcony-mounted condensing units with the systems. Working with both the architect and the engineer on possible solutions, Rival Air was able to relocate around 100 condensing units from the basement car park to a rooftop location to avoid issues around heat rejection.

However, given the height of the buildings, which were up to ten storeys high including basement car parks, refrigerant pipe runs became an important consideration. Rival Air began a review of various air conditioning solutions that would provide the flexibility of longer or shorter pipe run lengths, depending on the location of the apartment. Additionally, it was important that the design of the indoor units was also consistent.

After comparing available systems, Rival Air selected Fujitsu General’s Airstage J-II Series range of heat pump units to provide cooling and heating to the development’s one and two bedroom apartments, as well as the Quest serviced apartments.

According to Stewart, Fujitsu offers a wide range of products with long refrigerant pipe runs as well as a consistent range of indoor units across their domestic and light commercial range – and this consistent look was important to the developer.

Fujitsu was also able to provide the flexibility for apartment buyers to upgrade their system. Around 70 apartments were upgraded to multi-systems to provide individual conditioning of living areas and bedrooms.

The HVAC design for the serviced apartments also required multi-systems to be installed. Quest specified the installation of reed switches on balcony doors, so that air conditioning automatically switches off when doors are opened. All of these requirements were fulfilled by Fujitsu.

To keep refrigerant pipework runs to a minimum, Rival Air took a top down, bottom up approach whereby condensing units serving apartments on the bottom four floors were located in the basement car parks, and those serving the levels above were located on the roof.

“Because of the longer pipe run lengths afforded by the Fujitsu units, we were able to get more units onto the roof and less in the car park. This was advantageous because of the heat rejection available and also allowed for more car parking spaces to be available,” said Stewart.

Locating the units in the basement and on the rooftop addressed both noise and aesthetic considerations sought by the developer.

Fujitsu General’s advanced VRF technology used in the J-II Series allows for a total refrigerant piping length of 180m. The J-II Series system provides energy efficient cooling and heating via the unit’s DC inverter control at both full load and low to medium load operation and with any Fujitsu indoor unit. Heat exchanger performance is also substantially improved by the unit’s 3-row large heat exchanger design, while a subcool, dual tube heat exchanger improves cooling performance.

The total combined capacity of the systems installed at Green Square is approximately 3500kW.

Though the Green Square project had a large number of apartments as well as air conditioning systems, a central plant was never considered mainly because of the difficulty in providing individual billing. Residential developments with central plant and common-type systems have always had an issue with individual billing, says Stewart.

“Providing a dedicated condenser for each apartment and individual control is the easiest and most cost-effective way of achieving individual billing.”

Key learnings

The construction of Green Square commenced in the last quarter of 2012 and was completed in March 2014. Rival Air provided warranty and maintenance during the obligatory 12-month warranty period, and its service department continues to provide maintenance to the property today.

“The systems have performed very well since the project was completed in March 2014 and we’ve been more than happy with the product,” says Stewart.

All areas of the project from individual apartments and serviced apartments to lobby areas feature indoor units from Fujitsu General (Aust.) Pty Limited, adding to the luxury interior design created by SJB.

“No one sees the condensing units,” says Stewart. “It’s all about the indoors and Fujitsu offered us a very similar look of unit all the way through the project. So whether it required a short refrigerant pipe run or a long one, we knew we had that consistency.”

He added that Fujitsu General’s pre-sales support was vital to the success of the project. “Fujitsu’s pre-sales support gave us the confidence to use their product. They provided us with the answers and information we needed including the types of controls and multi-systems we could offer as upgrades. I don’t think we would have got a better product for this particular project than Fujitsu.”