Building Technology and Design

Vipac’s engineers are independent consultants who can get involved in any stage of the building and construction process - design, certification, tender preparation, construction supervision, maintenance, and remedial advice. Our flexibility allows most tests to be carried out to individual specifications, with lead times to suit client requirements.


All assessments are supported by extensive field instrumentation, advanced CAE programs and facilities, such as a boundary layer wind tunnel, various acoustic chambers, and façade and window test rigs.  Our Building Technology and Design consultants deliver internationally recognised test reports, which include detailed procedures, set-up information, and clear and concise results.

Our building components and design team offers an extensive list of services including:

Performance Testing of HVAC Components

Vipac's NATA accredited Air Distribution laboratory can conduct performance testing on a range of building air flow components. Read more about our HVAC performance testing capabilities.

Air Tightness of Buildings

Well sealed or airtight buildings are vital for energy conservation, thermal efficiencies and occupant comfort.

Air tightness (air permeability) testing involves measuring the rate of air leakage of a building envelope under controlled pressurisation and depressurisation. Testing is paramount during the design and construction stages of all building projects.

Vipac is the world’s first laboratory to hold NATA accreditation for air tightness testing in accordance with AS/NZS ISO 9972 and BS EN 13829 - Thermal Performance of buildings – determination of air permeability of buildings – fan pressurisation method.

Our air tightness testing consultants offer a range of services, including:

  • Complete air tightness in building tests (optional -  sealing of plant and services for the air test),
  • Partial building air tightness tests,
  • Testing for the purpose of sizing smoke extraction systems for smoke control,
  • Confirming fire zone extraction requirements.
  • Onsite inspections and consultation:
    • Inspections throughout the building phase,
    • Training of project engineers and skilled trades in improved air sealing methods,
    • Additional testing days on site as required.
  • Component testing of (but not limited to):
    • Loading bays, shutter doors and external fire doors,
    • Dampers and louvres,
    • Windows and doors,
    • Fan performance curves,
    • Façade air leakage,
    • Raised floor plenums used in heating/cooling of server rooms.
  • Leak detection:
    • Smoke tests,
    • Infrared thermal imaging or thermography.
  • Oil rig testing for temporary refuge:
    • BOSIET qualified engineers.

Test results can be used towards the Green Star rating system or to prove compliance with the proposed verification method JV4 or Section J of the National Construction Code (NCC).

Curtain Wall and Structural Facades Testing

Vipac’s NATA accredited laboratory tests the endurance and weatherproofing of curtain walls and structural facades against cyclonic winds and wind driven rain.

Our laboratory consists of multiple test rigs which are capable of simulating the same harsh conditions (i.e. rain and wind impact) as what would be experienced if on site, on full scale prototypes up to 7m high and 8m wide.

Our facades engineers can test curtain walls and shop fronts in accordance to the following standards:

  • AS/NZS 4284        Testing of Building Facades (NATA Accredited),
  • AS 2047                                 Windows and External Glazed Doors in Buildings (NATA Accredited),
  • AS/NZS 1170        Structural design actions,
  • AAMA 501.2         Quality Assurance and Diagnostic Water Leakage Field Check of Installed Storefronts, Curtain Walls, and Sloped Glazing Systems (NATA Accredited),
  • NCC Building Code of Australia Weatherproofing tests (Volume 1, Section FV1.1 and Volume 2, Section V2.2.1) (NATA Accredited).

Vipac can also apply custom testing procedures to products that are not required to meet any specific standards including:

  • Cast in bracket pull out strength, to test load capacity of a sample of façade connections,
  • Crowd loading, to test permanent fencing, balustrades and large windows,
  • Water run off tests, to test for wall and façade drainage capacity (e.g. gutter overflow),
  • Wind Loads/Wind Blown Rain Simulations (wind resistance),
  • Customised onsite testing, including assistance with designing appropriate test rigs.

Building Energy Rating and Ecologically Sustainable Design (ESD)  

Vipac’s uniquely developed approach to ESD has been specifically designed to give you a holistic, cost effective and prompt service.

Vipac offers end-to-end sustainability services from planning, concept and design, to project management, implementation, certification and benchmarking. Services include:

  • Sustainability Benchmarking & Ratings Schemes, including NABERS , Green Star and Building Energy Efficiency Certificates (BEEC),
  • Sustainable Energy and Resource Efficiency; design developments and reviews/audits; feasibility studies, project management and monitoring,
  • Building Performance Modelling and Simulation including Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD),
  • Sustainability Reporting, Measurement and Compliance Assessments – mandatory and/or voluntary,
  • Sustainability Funding Programs and Emission Offset Plans,
  • ESD Services for New & Existing Buildings.

Vipac is a certified assessor of building energy efficiency and has been performing thermal comfort, energy, and condensation studies for the past 28 years, using both physical and computational analysis techniques. We have conducted assessments demonstrating energy-conscious and environmentally sustainable constructions for end users, and the municipality at large.

Residential:

The design of energy efficient buildings is now seen as highly important by most planning authorities. Energy audits are becoming standard components in the Development Application of any major new building. Rating Schemes (First Rate, and NatHERS) have been established to assess the energy efficiency of residential developments using a star rating system. Many councils, particularly leading municipal councils in the eastern states, now require Energy Efficiency Ranking be assigned to residential developments at the early planning stage.

Vipac are accredited to perform calculations for:

  • First Rate,
  • NaTHERS.

Vipac also provide practical recommendations to enhance the energy consumption characteristics of proposed residential developments, from single storey houses to high-rise apartment blocks.

Commercial:

For commercial or retail developments, ESPII Energy Audits (DA Stage) are conducted using the ESPII software package. Heating and cooling loads are calculated during early planning stages prior to the specification of any mechanical services such as air conditioning, hot water system, and lighting. Calculated load values are matched to the energy consumption of typical office mechanical services and occupancy patterns. The resulting estimated energy consumption, in MJ/pa/m2, is then compared with specific Council DCP target values. Recommendations are then made to achieve an energy efficient building.

In our assessment of energy implications we make recommendations to cover:

  • Site and overall concept,
  • Parking,
  • Solar access and shading,
  • Zoning,
  • Wind exposure and ventilation,
  • Landscaping,
  • Building materials (colouring, glazing),
  • Internal configuration (lighting, thermal insulation, natural ventilation etc),
  • Building services and appliances (water conservation, hot water provisions),
  • Recycling,
  • Construction and demolition.

Garage Door Testing

The ability of garage doors to resist the powerful wind loads imposed on them are a direct reflection of the quality of product. Vipac’s garage door testing laboratory has the capability to test prototypes up to 8m (wide) to 7m (high).

The Vipac testing laboratory offers a wide range of capabilities for testing garage doors in accordance with AS/NZS 4505 and AS/NZS 1170.2 for:

  • Wind Loads,
  • Cyclonic Windborne Debris Impact Resistance.

Internal Building Climate 

The design of energy efficient buildings is now seen as highly desirable by most planning authorities. Vipac, a certified assessor of building energy efficiency, performs thermal comfort and energy studies as well as condensation studies, using both physical and computational analysis techniques.

Testing facilities for physical modelling of internal building climates include:

Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel:

  • To test scale models of proposed buildings and determine pressure contours on external surfaces. By combining this information with the local statistical wind climate, the yearly or monthly potential for natural ventilation in terms of the number of air changes per hour or open space air velocity can be assessed, as well as the optimal location of air inlets and exhausts.  Read more about our Wind Engineering capabilities.

Solar Simulator, Environmental Chamber, Air Distribution Laboratory and UV Spectrophotometer:

  • For determining heat and light transmission through a facade; full scale sample testing to determine air and water leakage, as well as transmission, reflection and absorption characteristics of sample materials; laboratory modelling of air conditioning devices, diffusers & jets and of air dispersion in spaces.  Read more about our Environmental Testing capabilities.

Results of physical models can be trialled and extended through computational modelling.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, such as AirPLAN and NISA – to ascertain the natural ventilation potential and building thermodynamics, as well as to predict, evaluate, and optimise the performance of proposed climate control systems, reducing the annual air conditioning expenditure.

Vipac’s heat load evaluation software INSOL for building energy consumption analysis – to determine the solar heat gain of a building with consideration to any nearby shielding buildings, as well as canopies, sun shades, glazing configurations, and window geometry (i.e. double-glazed systems).

On site testing complements Vipac’s range of services with the usage of advanced instrumentation and a multitude of experience in all facets of HVAC.

Overshading, Glare and Reflection Studies 

With the increase in use of reflective glass in curtain walls of high-rise buildings, concerns have been raised regarding overshadowing and reflectivity. Various planning authorities have enacted regulations to control the impact of shading at ground level and limit the use of reflective facades.

Overshadowing

Vipac has developed SHADE; a highly specialised computer software program specifically for quantifying environmental impact, and in determining the impact of reflections from proposed building developments and the surrounding carriageways and pedestrian pathways.

SHADE uses Vipac’s extensive database of buildings and topography of Australia’s main cities along with calculations of sun positions to determine minute-by-minute variations of shadow locations at any time of the year.

Building Reflectivity

Reflectivity assessments determine the adverse reflective glare from glass surfaces, which can impact motorists, pedestrians, and neighbouring buildings. Conducted as part of a development approval, reflectivity studies are equally important in ensuring maintenance of nearby public spaces, as well as assessing the aesthetics of the development of the different glazing designs.

Vipac has been involved in numerous shading and reflectivity assessments, helping architects in planning public indemnity spaces, supporting developers during statutory planning processes, and for councils in determining the impact of proposed towers in regards to the existing city shadows.

Solar Panel Mounting System – Physical Component Testing 

Vipac’s structural testing laboratory can test the physical components of solar panel mounting systems, which is the preferred method by industry.

Unlike modelling, physical component testing can measure the effectiveness of single and multiple component interactions, and identify any potential problems/failures in the system, before they go to market. The results obtained are a lot more conclusive and accurate than those obtained through modelling, finite element analysis (FEA) and desktop appraisals. Physical component testing is also a lot more efficient and cost effective, and can be carried out in Vipac’s laboratory or onsite as required.

Vipac has been involved in the certification of many roof mounted solar panel systems, including solar hot water (SHWS) systems and photo-voltaic (PV) systems, and is therefore well positioned to consult you through the certification process.

Structural Load Testing

When structural safety or performance is in doubt, Vipac can provide accurate and appropriate solutions through a spectrum of structural load testing capabilities.

Vipac can conduct testing in its NATA accredited laboratory or onsite to assess the structural soundness, gauge defects, and identify construction deformations in a wide range of complex components and structure types.

Adhering to Australian and international standards and building codes, Vipac’s engineers can provide professional insights into the expected and actual behaviour of new and existing structures and components, in particular:

  • Uniform Structural Loads (crowd loading, point loading and balustrade tests),
  • Temporary Handrails – AS 4994,
  • Balustrades,
  • Fences,
  • Façade brackets.

Wall and Roof Cladding 

The ability to deliver new building components and products to market in an efficient and cost effective manner is critical to both manufacturers and importers.

Vipac’s testing laboratory offers a wide range of capabilities for testing wall and roof cladding systems, and structural insulated panels (SIPs) for:

  • Wind Loads,
  • Concentrated Loads,
  • Thermal Resistance,
  • Seismic Testing,
  • Bending Resistance,
  • Water Penetration,
  • Windborne Debris Impact,
  • Compression Resistance,
  • Joint Strength.

Wall and roof cladding systems must be tested for compliance with AS 1562, and wind loads calculated from AS/NZS 1170.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are tested to a range of standards including ASTM E72.

Vipac has worked with clients to ensure that their products stand up to the loadings that will be seen on site.

Weatherproofing

In building construction, weatherproofing is a fundamental aspect of creating a solid building envelope. Major problems can occur when products are used for the wrong application. It is critical that the right weatherproof membranes and construction materials are used.

Vipac’s building engineers are experts in testing the integrity of the building envelope and its various components, and locating any breaches. Our engineers can conduct the following tests, onsite or in our independent laboratories, to assess any potential penetrations:

  • Static Pressure Wind/Water Penetration Test,
  • Flood test,
  • Cyclic Pressure (Water Penetration) Test,
  • On-site Water Spray Test, AAMA 501.2, a weatherproofing installation check,.
  • NCC FV1.1 Prototype Test.

Vipac is NATA accredited to test for the weatherproofing standard contained in the NCC Building Code of Australia (Volume 1, Section FV1.1 and Volume 2, Section V2.2.1).

Windborne Debris Testing 

Determining the level of damage that comes with a cyclonic event is no easy feat. Vipac has the engineering expertise to estimate the level of devastation associated with a cyclonic, or severe storm event.

Testing is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) and AS/NZS 1170.2:-2012.

Window and Door Testing 

Vipac tests all types of windows and doors to Australian standards for residential, domestic, and commercial buildings.

Window and door testing must be completed on all fenestration products sold in Australia to ensure specific standards are met, and manufacturers’ performance claims are verified.

NATA accredited for tests under AS 2047, AS/NZS 4420 and AS/NZS 4284, Vipac can provide internationally recognised test reports, including detailed procedures and set-up information, to ensure our clients receive clear and detailed results of every job completed.

We can conduct testing within our NATA laboratory to project-specific requirements, or in accordance with window and door testing standards. Full scale samples of up to 7m high and 8m wide can be tested, or simultaneous testing can be conducted on several side by side samples which can reduce the overall test duration and cost.

On-site tests in factories (if preferred) can also be conducted, as well as testing installed windows and doors on building sites.

The window and door testing methods used at Vipac comply with the following standards:

  • AS 2047 – Windows and External Glazed Doors in Buildings,
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #1: Test sample, preparation and sequence (NATA accredited),
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #2: Deflection test (NATA accredited),
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #3: Operating force test (NATA accredited),
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #4: Air infiltration test (NATA accredited),
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #5: Water penetration resistance test (NATA accredited),
  • AS/NZS 4420.1 – Windows – Methods of test, #6: Ultimate strength test (NATA accredited),
  • AS 1170.2 – Cyclonic windborne debris impact.

We offer our clients responsive, efficient, and informative reports with accurate and reliable test results. All modifications to windows and doors are recorded, and can then be repeated down the production line.

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