The Western Australia Centre for Rural Health or WACRH is focussed on improving rural, remote and Aboriginal health by promoting rural health careers, creating rural-based placements for undergraduate and higher degree students, and providing education, training and support relevant to rural and remote practice. Supported by the University of Western Australia, the WACRH is based in the coastal town of Geraldton.

A combination of Commonwealth and State Government funding allowed for a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the WACRH building in 2013, including the addition of a two-storey extension to its eastern wing to accommodate a new education and simulation centre.

The EdSim Centre is a purpose-built facility that provides students and professionals with clinical education and training in a simulated environment. The extension includes five customisable consulting rooms and two clinical demonstration Emergency Department bays, as well as education staff offices and student desks.

Local Geraldton-based HVAC contractor Hallinan Refrigeration and Airconditioning was engaged to design, supply and install the air conditioning systems at the new facility. The brief sought to achieve a comfortable indoor environment within the centre; and provide a system with intuitive end-user control that offered independent modes of operation for each space, as well as remote log-in capability.

According to Hallinan Refrigeration, it was a mixed use building combining offices, consulting rooms, meeting rooms and a practical lecture area. It was, therefore, important to provide adequate temperature control as required for each area depending on individual requirements and room occupancy.

However, the multi-use nature of the facility combined with the building fabric presented several challenges to Hallinan. Key challenges included restrictions placed by the existing ceiling grids on the system layout and design; lack of adequate ceiling space and complex timber truss layouts requiring a careful approach to equipment selection and installation; and local climate conditions impacting system design and equipment selection.

Geraldton faces extreme climatic conditions with temperatures in summer known to reach 47°C and the average number of days with temperatures above 30°C exceeding 80 each year. Conversely, winter temperatures can occasionally fall to around 0°C.

To overcome these challenges, Hallinan Refrigeration and Airconditioning sought product assistance from Fujitsu General (Aust.) Pty Limited right at the initial design phase.

Fujitsu General’s technical team recommended their 101kW system comprising of two Fujitsu VRF heat recovery systems and a number of cassette-type fan coil units (FCUs), which met the brief of cost-effectiveness, timely delivery, performance and functionality.

Fujitsu’s VR-II heat recovery systems are ideal for the multi-use nature of the EdSim Centre as they can provide simultaneous cooling and heating in multiple rooms or spaces fitted with an indoor unit. The highly energy efficient VR-II heat recovery systems can also draw heat from the room to be cooled and transfer it as energy for rooms that are to be heated.

Multiple outdoor units were connected as part of the WACRH system, with a sophisticated operation performed by each compressor so that all compressors operated at part load and distributed refrigerant to all of the heat exchangers, improving overall system efficiency.

Twelve Fujitsu compact cassette units were selected for the installation to overcome the restrictions created by the ceiling grids. The high efficiency design of the Fujitsu systems with a two-stage turbo fan ensures even air distribution across the heat exchanger to produce two separate and quiet airflow streams.

Additionally, nine standard cassette units were also deployed where space constraints did not exist.

The Fujitsu VR-II system was also selected due to the ease of interlocking the indoor units with outside air fans and motion sensors to provide a high level of user control and greater energy efficiency. WACRH staff members were given control of the air conditioning system via an intuitive touch-screen central control unit.

The easy finger touch operation via a high resolution TFT-LCD panel allows users to easily manage the temperature of specific rooms and spaces, as well as distribute heating and cooling to different rooms simultaneously via individual control of the indoor units. The system can be accessed remotely or over a network via the VRF Explorer PC interface, which provides a wide range of controls including energy savings.

According to Hallinan Refrigeration, the support provided by Fujitsu’s technical department throughout the design and commissioning phases had a major influence on the selection of the brand’s products for the WACRH project. The extended warranty terms offered by Fujitsu General on their commercial range was another advantage for the company during the selection process.

The construction of the Western Australia Centre of Rural Health’s EdSim facility was completed early 2014, and was officially opened by dignitaries in April 2014. Fujitsu’s air conditioning system has been performing to optimum levels, efficiently meeting the demands placed on it by the new facility.