UQ Chiller Replacement

A.G. Coombs Projects replaced chillers and rooftop cooling towers at The University of Queensland’s (UQ) St Lucia campus.

UQ has a precinct chilled water system based in Building 69. The primary cooling system serves a common primary CHW ringmain system which provides cooling to several secondary chilled water systems serving Building 69 and six adjacent buildings within the precinct.

The chiller replacement project was led by the UQ Property & Facilities’ Engineering Section, with A.G. Coombs undertaking the detailed layout design, installation and commissioning of three new large high efficiency chillers, which replaced two older existing chillers, as well as the reconfiguration and installation of three cooling towers on the building’s rooftop to support the new chilled water plant.

The key challenges were around space, time and the assurance of ongoing day-to-day operations. A.G. Coombs used its advanced BIM capabilities to produce a 3D spatially accurate plant room model from the client’s 2D documentation. The resultant design solution included the use of a non-typical CHW Pump arrangement and allowed for additional future equipment. When the plant room was taken offline for eight weeks to allow for equipment replacement, A.G. Coombs and UQ P&F Engineering worked closely together to define, cut-over and manage a temporary chilled water supply solution to ensure continuation of the University’s day-to-day operations with no disruption to the staff and students, and to also ensure that temperature-critical areas, including research laboratories, remained functional.

The chiller replacement project was critical for the University in helping to ensure appropriate, long-term working conditions for our staff, our students and our facilities. It posed many challenges including short time frames, tight spaces and a live working environment. The University, A.G. Coombs and McNab Constructions worked well as a team, efficiently coordinating all services and delivering the project with minimal disruption to our everyday operations, resulting in a successful project outcome for all stakeholders.

Stewart Hobbs, Manager Engineering Services - Property & Facilities Division, The University of Queensland

Project Overview

Project Name: The University of Queensland

Location: QLD

Client: McNab Constructions

Project Value: $2.1m

Year Completed: 2014

Project Type

UQ Building 69 chiller and rooftop cooling tower replacement (detailed design using advanced BIM capabilities and 3D modelling)


  • Timely delivery of services with minimal disruption to UQ’s existing operations.

  • Successful detailed design solution using 3D modelling to assure the innovative use of limited space.

  • Project completed with zero Lost Time Injuries (LTIs).

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