Australian sheet metal contractor A.G. Coombs, known for its commitment to innovation and sustainability, has been involved in some of the largest and most high-profile HVAC projects in the land down under.
From hospitals constructed as part of public-private partnerships to the redevelopment of a convention and entertainment district, it’s a good chance many of the country’s residents or visitors have passed by, or through, a project in which A.G. Coombs was involved.
The building services company works on projects throughout the country with a focus on the major cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, and elsewhere along Australia’s eastern seaboard. The company is based in Moorabbin, Victoria, in the southeastern part of Australia.
Byron Price, A.G. Coombs’ strategic development director, describes the company as a building services firm that provides “whole-of-life technical services” for all building systems.
They’re a lot more than just an HVAC service company.
“We provide advice, design, fabrication, installation, commissioning, maintenance, or ongoing operation and management services in the areas of air conditioning and mechanical services, fire protection, hydraulics, electrical services, lighting, and building control technologies,” Price said.
Construction Across the Continent
A.G. Coombs’ client list is long and varied. “We work nationally with building owners, constructors, project managers, property managers, facility managers, occupants, and tenants alike across a wide range of market sectors including commercial property, health care, telecommunications and data centers, government, defense, education, financial, arts and recreation, retail, transport infrastructure, and industrial,” Price added.
For a country of approximately 25 million people, Australia has a large HVAC industry, with a contracting market estimated to be worth around AU$7.9 billion ($5.6 billion U.S.) and an HVAC equipment market estimated to be worth AU$1.7 billion. Both figures come from a 2018 market study published by market research firm IBISWorld.
It’s probably reasonable to say A.G. Coombs’ gets its share of it. The company has won awards from the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), and the Property Council of Australia, among others.
A recent project that Price said was especially noteworthy was the erection of the largest commercial office building made of engineered timber in the world. The 45-meter (148-foot-tall) structure makes extensive use of cross-laminated and glue-laminated timber. It’s part of a redevelopment effort in Brisbane’s Bowen Hills neighborhood.
The 14,000-square-meter (151,000-square-foot) building uses a highly energy efficient variable-air-volume (VAV) HVAC system with air-handling units (AHUs) on its roof. A small basement parking garage, designed for 56 cars, is mechanically ventilated.
The project made extensive use of building information modeling (BIM), ensuring penetrations were properly placed in the building’s cross-laminated timber, and to improve project coordination.
A.G. Coombs is a big believer in BIM, Price noted.
“We realize the benefits of BIM through all stages of a project — from design, enabling large-scale prefabrication and virtual build simulation, to construction and installation,” he said. “The application of BIM has very significantly reduced coordination issues and waste, and supported improved site safety. It has also enhanced site set out and installation methodologies — for example, the use of laser-pointing systems and cast-in ferrules. Commissioning, operational, and maintenance practices have also benefited, ultimately resulting in improved systems performance.”
“A.G. Coombs is a founding member and a key contributor to the BIM MEP AUS Forum (an Australian BIM-mechanical, electrical, and plumbing industry initiative),” he said, “and keen to support the take up and application of BIM in the Australian construction industry.”