ICC - International Convention Centre, Sydney Redevelopment

Featuring striking contemporary architecture, leading technologies and a unique combination of innovative function spaces and facilities, the International Convention Centre Sydney is positioned as the Asia Pacific’s premier integrated convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct. The scale of this $3.4 billion dollar project, its ground breaking features and technical challenges make it one of Australia’s most exciting and challenging urban redevelopment projects.

Developed through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the New South Wales Government and Darling Harbour Live (comprising Lend Lease, HOSTPLUS, Capella Capital, AEG Ogden and Spotless) the world-class facility was expected to help bring more than 26 million visitors to Darling Harbour each year.

It includes convention facilities capable of hosting three separated, self-sufficient, concurrent events for up to around 12,000 delegates, as well as an 8,000 seat plenary hall, total exhibition capacity of 35,000 square metres, a premier red carpet theatre with a capacity of 8,000, a grand ballroom to provide premium banqueting space for more than 2,000 people, plus 8,000 square metres of total meeting room space across 70 rooms that link to both the convention and exhibition areas.

Appointed by construction managers Lendlease, A.G. Coombs Projects is the sole mechanical and HVAC services provider for the redeveloped Convention building and the new Exhibition and Theatre buildings that make up the complex, with the three being delivered simultaneously.

A.G. Coombs used its leading Building Information Modelling (BIM) capability to complete the design and support the construction of the mechanical and HVAC systems across the three buildings which are very different and have very specific design requirements.

Cooling and heating energy is provided to the complex from a centrally located energy-efficient plant. Chilled water for cooling is generated using six large chillers with a total capacity of 21,400 kWr. These are arranged in a series counter flow configuration with a variable speed primary pumping system to support the wide range of load conditions. Chilled water is distributed to over 210 separate air handling units and fan coil units in the ICC buildings.

Heat rejection from all cooling systems is provided for by twelve large cooling towers with a total capacity of 24,600kW delivering condenser water to the chillers as well as the heat exchangers serving refrigeration plant for kitchen and hospitality services.

There are six large hot water generators with a total capacity of 10,650 kW. With associated pumps, these deliver heating water at 80°C to the air handling units, fan coil units and duct mounted heating coils throughout the complex.

A number of different types of air distribution and ventilation systems serve the various areas in the ICC to address the particular functional requirements of each area. Over 235 fans are installed.

The three theatres in the project have displacement air conditioning systems. These distribute conditioned air into the space from an airtight plenum beneath the tiered seating. A.G. Coombs devised and tested a prototype of this system prior to construction. The systems serving the Ballroom can operate under different scenarios as the space can be subdivided to suit the demands of various events. And the systems serving the large Exhibition Halls also operate under a range of different scenarios with the space able to be partitioned into halls of various sizes via a series of operable walls. Conditioned air is ducted into this very large space at high level using large diameter fabric ducts and self-adjusting radial diffusers.

The air handling units that service the larger and high occupancy spaces incorporate Electronically Commutated (EC) fans for better energy efficiency. EC motors consume on average about 30% less electricity than conventional AC motors and offer other advantages. Their application on this project required considerable investigation and engineering development to determine optimal installation, control and commissioning arrangements.

The multiple large and high ceilinged spaces in the complex required significant installation and commissioning work to be carried out at height. A number of innovative safe working-at-height solutions were devised to meet the requirements of the construction manager’s stringent safety requirements and to comply with A.G. Coombs AS/NZS4801 and SafetyMAP Advanced certified safety management system.

Sustainability is a prime focus for the development. The transformation of Darling Harbour has received the highest available rating for master-planned precincts in Australia, demonstrating ‘World Leadership’, by achieving a 6 Star Green Star Communities (v1) rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. It is also the first Australian convention and exhibition facility registered with the US Green Building Council for the internationally recognised LEED® green building certification (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and is targeting a Gold Certification.

Careful design and installation, detailed system commissioning and tuning, and energy efficient operation of the complex’s HVAC and mechanical services, will play an important role in achieving and maintaining these green building ratings.

From the start, we were confident in A.G. Coombs’ ability to not just deliver the HVAC and mechanical services, but to also tackle the big challenges and deliver comprehensive, technical solutions in line with the complex’s operational and energy efficiency requirements.

Richard Eaton, Project Director, Lendlease.

Project Overview

Project Name: ICC - International Convention Centre Redevelopment

Location: Sydney, NSW

Client: Darling Harbour Live

Project Type

Redevelopment Project - Mechanical & HVAC Services


  • All major equipment successfully installed.
  • Commissioning works progressing well.


  • 2018 AIRAH Award for Excellence in Innovation and Excellence in Sustainability - ICC Sydney
  • Advisory Excellence Award at the 2014 National Infrastructure Awards, convened by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA)
  • Asia-Pacific PPP Deal of the Year at the 2013 Project Finance International (PFI) Awards
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification

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