Ben Mees
General Manager, Building Management Australia

Water cooling towers: why regular maintenance is vital

Cooling towers provide a cost-effective and energy-efficient operation of systems in need of cooling – i.e., heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) – and it’s crucial that they are strictly maintained to reduce the risk of system damage and health issues, and increase health and safety, durability, performance and efficiency. Failing to regularly maintain cooling towers can incur high costs and even put people’s lives in danger due to dangerous bacterial growth.

At Building Management Australia (BMAUS), our building managers prioritise regular checks of cooling towers in the buildings they manage to ensure optimimum efficiency while also creating a safe, compliant and clean environment.

The role of cooling towers
Water cooling towers are a component of the HVAC system’s chiller, which cools water before it is circulated throughout the building.s They use evaporation to remove unwanted heat from the chiller, unlike dry cooling towers that use air.

“Essentially, water cooling towers help create a comfortable temperature within high-rise buildings and those in elevated areas,” explains Ben Mees, BMAUS General Manager.

One of the biggest hurdles to water cooling towers being regularly maintained is their location. According to Sydney Water, their typical location on a building’s roof makes them suffer too often from being “out of sight and out of mind”.

“Our building managers ensure water cooling towers aren’t overlooked and that they’re prioritised for regular maintenance by the right contractors. A major focus of their role is on maintaining a building environment that keeps everyone safe,” says Ben.

Health and safety
Water cooling systems use evaporative cooling, which creates moist air and enables water-borne bacterias, including Legionella bacteria, to become airborne. One of the most common sources for Legionnaire’s disease is an infected cooling tower, and the bacteria can spread rapidly through air-conditioning systems. If Legionella bacteria is present and inhaled, it can cause Legionnaire’s Disease, a severe form of pneumonia which can be life threatening.

“The warm waters in these buildings create perfect conditions for bacteria like algae or mould, which can help grow dangerous pathogens such as Legionella, which could spread through the air released when a cooling tower is in use,” explains Ben. “Clean water is vital for a healthy building environment.”

Reducing the risk
As water cooling towers can have a significant impact on our health, they are part of a building’s Risk Management Plan (RMP). According to NSW Health, they must be installed, operated, maintained and decommissioned in accordance with the Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health and Wellbeing Regulation 2019 and managed according to the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3666.

To reduce the growth of harmful water-born bacteria, including Legionella, cooling water towers need to be regularly and correctly checked, cleaned, tested and maintained by a suitably qualified contractor. NSW Health stipulates that a duly qualified person (DQP) must install, inspect, clean and maintain cooling water systems.

“DQPs are usually employed by a water treatment company, mechanical services firm or organisations involved in the management of cooling water systems. Our building managers source experienced DQPs and ensure their building’s water cooling towers are checked and cleaned each month to help ensure a safe environment and optimal operational efficiency,” says Ben.

BMAUS building managers help ensure their buildings’ water cooling towers are well maintained and meet NSW Health’s six key requirements – also called safeguards – by contracting a DQP to:

1. Assess the risk of Legionella contamination and prepare a Risk Management Plan (RMP) every five years or more frequently if required.
2. Perform yearly independent auditing of compliance with the RMP and government regulation.
3. Provide certificates of RMP completion and audit to the local government authority.
4. Perform monthly cleaning, chemical analysis and testing for Legionella and other water-borne bacteria.
5. Notify reportable laboratory test results to the local government authority.
6. Ensure unique identification numbers on all cooling towers are displayed.

“Also, when a DQP carries out maintenance, they must minimise contamination of the surrounding environment via aerosol dispersion of water and prevent public access to the area,” says Ben. “Given that water cooling towers can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, there are penalties for not maintaining them, and those responsible for their management can be held liable for any deaths caused by Legionnaires’ Disease.”

Efficiency and cost savings
According to Sydney Water, water cooling towers that are in good condition, operated property and are well maintained allow chillers to operate at peak efficiency, and that even the “slightest decrease in performance” will have a major impact on efficiency.

In addition to helping ensure a healthy environment, correct and regular maintenance of water cooling towers identifies performance issues and wear and tear early, which:

• enhances efficiency, which in turn reduces running costs
• reduces the incidence of costly breakdowns (minor faults or damages can affect the performance and if overlooked, can lead to expensive repairs and high running costs)
• reduces water usage
• increases a tower’s useful life, which makes them more sustainable and therefore more eco-friendly – and saves moneys
• reduces frequency of parts replacement
• Identifies leaks early (Sydney Water states that one leak of just 250ml per second can cost more than $15,000 a year)
• detects and prevents corrosion
• helps maintain a consistently comfortable environment for residents

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Building Managers provide a variety of services that help create a more convenient, efficient and cost-effective building. Strata buildings that have numerous lots – residential, commercial, retail – have an increased amount of traffic and activities which require a professional building manager to oversee and mitigate.

The costs of employing a single building manager can be significantly smaller than contracting individual roles simultaneously. Additionally, the costs of maintaining a building are additionally less than repairing problems. Having a service that helps preserve and enhance your most valuable asset is a smart investment.

Building Managers organise, control and delegate the strategic and operational management of a building. They are based on-site with a dedicated office from where they manage contractors and suppliers carrying out maintenance and upgrades and provide services such as security, cleaning, and property maintenance. Building Managers can issue keys, accept parcels and manage the adherence of the occupants to the registered by-laws.

Bmaus can assist the owners’ corporation with:
– The management of common property
– Controlling the use of common property by tradespersons and other non-residents
– The maintenance and repair of common property
– Duties such as concierge, security and cleaning

Building Managers usually manage strata buildings greater than 70 lots, however, they can manage smaller strata on a part-time basis at the Strata Committee’s discretion.

Strata Managers take direction from a building’s strata committee and their role involves duties similar to those of a banker, administrator and lawyer. Strata Managers manage the funds of the building’s owners, issue levy notices, pay contractors, and ensure the owners are complying with strata laws.

Building Managers are appointed by members of a Strata Committee. They are appointed at an AGM or EGM and are administered by the Strata Committee via a Strata Agent.

The Strata Committee of the owners corporation represents owners or owners’ nominees. It is responsible for the day-to-day running of the strata scheme and is elected at each annual general meeting (AGM). The owners corporation decides the number of strata committee members for the coming year at each AGM. An owners corporation may also employ a Strata Managing Agent and/or Building Manager to carry out some, or all, of the responsibilities of the strata committee.

Bmaus can provide a full-time or part-time Building Manager. Your building’s size, amenities and management requirements, as well as your budget, largely determine whether you require a full-time or part-time Building Manager.
Bmaus’s building management contracts are for a minimum of two years.

We create a tailored quote by discussing your tenant’s requirements and by conducting an on-site scope of work to assess your building’s maintenance and management requirements such as security, cleaning, coordinating/overseeing repairs and renovations, provision of valet parking, concierge, and/or mail/parcel management, and facilities maintenance such as gardening and maintenance of amenities such as gyms and/or swimming pools.

Yes, our Building Managers are experienced in managing buildings that have a mix of residential and commercial lots. Each of our managers has a strong understanding of the different tenant and operational requirements of mixed-use buildings.
Yes. All building management contracts can be redetermined as needed. Changes quite often occur in the first year of management as the building’s requirements become more fully known.
Ultimately, our Building Managers report to the strata committee, usually via the Strata Manager. Bmaus provides a comprehensive and thorough report on the building’s activities, which is issued either monthly, quarterly or biannually depending on the Strata Committee’s needs. In addition to the reports and the Building Managers, we also have a relationship manager and general manager who are always on-hand to provide support.
Bmaus has managers who work on the weekends, and some buildings have split shifts with two managers performing a total of 12 hours of onsite management. As always, we adapt services to meet the needs of the building and our clients.

Bmaus has managers who operate as full-time managers, part-time managers and, in some instances, a combination of remote and onsite managers. As with all our services, we tailor the manager’s hours to meet the needs of your building.

Bmaus employs several ‘floating’ / ‘relief’ Building Managers who are acquainted with your building and its operation and maintenance requirements. This ensures a continuity of quality service during times of leave.

Taking Building Management to a new level

Professionalism is key

Bmaus is an integrated building and facilities management company that has evolved to meet the needs of today’s strata buildings.

Most importantly, we understand we are a services company entrusted with the care and comfort of your homes.

With this in mind, we offer highly professional Building Managers with the necessary skills and aptitudes to meet the needs of your strata, from the simplest to the most complex.
Bmaus is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Our team members have strong expertise and experience in the following:

• Compilation of building defects
• Control of key and access systems
• Management and audit of security operations
• Supervision of communications systems
• Operation of concierge and reception service
• Reporting and advising the owners corporation of all building issues
• Supervision of contractors
• Control of furniture and goods entry and exit
• Enforcement of by-laws and rules relating to the property
• Attending owners corporation and other relevant meetings

To find out more about our services and how we can improve your building’s management, please contact us on 02 8356 7127 or email

We look forward to being an integral part of your building’s success!

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Double Bay, NSW 2028.

02 8356 7127

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