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Finding the right advice

For turnkey solutions to retrofitting and improving building efficiency, access the Energy Efficiency Council's list of certified energy specialists.

Consultants, contractors and service providers are an important part of the building retrofit process. They provide the expertise required to analyse the building, identify the opportunities for improvement, design any changes to the building and then implement them.

Architects

Architects plan and design buildings. They may also take on a project management role.

Architects need to be registered by the Architects Registration Board of Victoria in order to practice. Visit the Architects Registrations Board of Victoria for more information.

Builders

Building contractors perform structural works. If internal walls need to be added or removed as part of a building retrofit, for example, a building contractor would perform the work.

Commissioning agents

Commissioning is the process whereby a building’s systems are tested and adjusted to ensure they are all functioning as they were designed to.

Sometimes commissioning is performed by the contractors who installed the relevant systems, but there is a trend now towards using a specialised commissioning agent. 

Electrical engineers

Electrical engineers analyse and design a building’s electrical systems – its lighting, controls, security and power, as well as communications and data in some cases.

Energy auditors

The job of an energy auditor is to investigate and verify the amount of energy a building (or other system) is using.

There are three levels of energy audits, ranging from a “desktop audit” where energy bills are reviewed to a full assessment where the auditor will thoroughly inspect the building and provide a detailed report on how energy is being used.

Energy audits should be performed to the standard proscribed in AS/NZS 3598:2000 Energy Audits. Visit the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating for information about their accreditation scheme for energy auditors.

Energy performance contractors

An energy performance contractor’s role is to assess a building (or group of buildings) and then propose a range of options for improving its energy efficiency.

Once the building owner has chosen from the options presented, energy performance contractors usually take on the role of project manager for carrying out the works and will take responsibility for finding appropriate engineers and installation contractors.

The energy performance contractor guarantees a minimum level of energy savings and takes a management fee from any savings made as a result of their work.

Environmentally sustainable design (ESD) consultants

ESD consultants provide a range of services, usually concerned with designing buildings to minimise energy and water consumption. Their work may cross over a range of engineering disciplines including mechanical and electrical.

Fire engineers

These consultants analyse and design a building’s fire safety systems, including sprinklers and smoke control systems.

Hydraulic engineers

Hydraulic engineers analyse and design a building’s water systems – its connections to the water mains, water flows through the building and its domestic hot water system.

Installation contractors

Installation contractors, as the name suggests, are the ones who carry out installation works in the building. They may follow the designs set out by the engineers or architects, or they may prepare the designs themselves on a design and construct project.

The installation contractor is often (but not always) the party that returns to the building to perform routine maintenance on the various systems.

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical engineers analyse and design the mechanical systems within a building – primarily its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Project managers

Project managers oversee the entire building retrofit process.  They will be in contact with all the involved parties, briefing and organising them as required.

The role of project manager is sometimes fulfilled by the architects, builders or engineers who are taking the lead role in the project. Sometimes a third-party project manager is used, or project management is carried out by the building owners.