Sunday, 27 January 2013

Engineers try to lead towards a greener future

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating has apparently decided that they can take a leadership position in working towards a low emission future.

It is easy to see any such initiative as simply jockeying to protect livelihoods in an industry that is popularly perceived as the villain in climate change.  But that would be grotesquely unfair for two reasons.

It is all the rest of us who demand the comfort and productivity that increasingly sophisticated environmental controls in buildings can provide.  And the truth is that AIRAH has for years promoted a much more vigourous commitment to upskilling and the spread of knowledge related to sustainability amongst its members, than have comparable organisations such as the Institute of Architects.

So it is in interesting to read what they have to say in their Draft Discussion Paper, Transition to Low Emissions HVAC & R, Issues and Solutions.  It would be fair to say that nothing the paper is really new, or even for that matter any more sophisticated than the concepts taught to undergraduate architecture and engineering students.  A relatively experienced reader would be constantly disturbed by the unavoidable inference that many (or even most) professionals and technical personnel in the industry clearly are not up-to-date with either the rapidly developing technology, or with good practice.  But in spite of that, it is refreshing to have the issues brought out into the open.

For instance, the conflicts of interest associated with advocacy of passive design.  As the paper says: “Changes that reduce the size and complexity of HVAC & R equipment will reduce revenue for the industry. Fees for ‘low carbon’ advice and analysis need to be separated from HVAC & R design activities,” the paper suggests.

Other highlights of the paper include an exhortation for emphasis on systems rather than equipment, placing the emerging skills shortages in the industry in the context of both the longevity of typical building HCVAC systems and the poor connectivity between design and commissioning, and the need to encourage uptake of building information management (BIM).

 For a relatively brief and supportive review, including an interview with Phil Wilkinson, chief executive of AIRAH, try these two articles in TheFifthEstate (from which the image above is taken):

For meatier reading, try the real thing here even if it is too late for comments after February 1.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve
Phil Wilkinson