The third iteration of AIRAH’s The Future of HVAC 2015 conference explored a range of topics affecting not only the industry of tomorrow but also the industry of today, writes Matthew Dillon
The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) recently held what has become one of the most eagerly anticipated HVACR conferences in the southern hemisphere.
Held in Melbourne over two days in August, the event included an array of speakers presenting on a broad swathe of topics, including passive buildings, data centres, rethinking cogeneration, university buildings that act as living laboratories, “big data” and integrated building information systems, climate change adaptation, resilience and more.
The keynote addresses by the Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood and by ClimateWorks Australia chair John Thwaites set the tone for the event, with both delivering provocative, engaging and thought-provoking addresses.
“The presentation by John Thwaites drove an important message about the cumulative effect of the carbon emissions that we are creating,” said conference committee chair Ian Harwood, M AIRAH. “We need to do something now.”
One of the more popular presentations was by Lend Lease’s Graham Carter, M AIRAH, who discussed the impact and benefits of cool roofs, and the importance of cool roof design in minimising HVAC impacts.
“The dialogue in our industry around green, cool and energy-generating roofs has been elevated in recent years,” said Mr Carter.
“Yet there are significant shortfalls in our industry knowledge and tools to fully understand how different roof types affect mechanical system performance. A heat-absorbing roof will warm the air layer above the roof, creating a micro-climate that can then bias the roof surface, the ventilation air, and the condensing air temperatures where this equipment is located on the roof.
“This biasing – or urban heat island – effect is ignored by the vast majority, if not all load-calculation and energy-simulation tools our industry uses. Thus we fail to account for the full impacts of conventional roofs – at worse we undersize AC systems – or the full benefits of cool and green roofs. “
Atelier Ten’s David Ritter, M AIRAH, gave a presentation on the Passivhaus design manifesto and how it can be applied to what has hitherto been considered conditions that are too harsh for it.
“The global trend towards ultra-high-performance building envelopes will have a significant impact in determining the future of HVAC design,” said Mr Ritter. “The Passivhaus movement began in Germany in the early 1990s and has grown to become a leading standard in high-performance buildings across Europe and beyond, applicable to a wide range of sectors including residential, educational, commercial and leisure buildings.”
Ritter explored how Passivhaus methodology was effectively applied to a building in sub-tropical China, the Bruck Building.
“A particular aspect of this application was to modify the energy standard to account for the high-humidity climate, and find suitable low-energy HVAC solutions,” said Mr Ritter.
“Big data” and its effect on HVAC was the subject of several presentations, and pivotal to that of NDY’s Jon Clarke, like Mr Ritter, an expat Brit.
“Over the past two decades, there have been significant advancements in the technology used to operate commercial buildings,” said Mr Clarke. “Today’s buildings intersect the boundaries of the construction and information technology industries, with sophisticated computer software managing the environmental conditions and balancing energy demands.
“These systems collect large amounts of valuable data, which are vital to understanding a building’s performance. From analytical reporting to portfolio management, new products and processes are emerging to harness the power of data, with a vision to provide a truly intelligent building, which can intuitively learn, tune and optimise.”
Mr Clarke’s session examined the latest buzzwords to hit the industry, particularly “Big Data analytics”, and the technologies used to design and manage the ultimate intelligent building.
Mr Clarke explored how data around performance, maintenance and operational expenditure can be used to full effect. “Data is the new currency,” he said. “It’s powerful, and provides a great depth of knowledge. Unstructured data in disparate formats is cumbersome to manipulate and difficult to understand its source.
“Data that has been normalised and complies with conventions such as tag naming, is therefore thefeatures first step to consider when embarking on data collection from multiple systems, services and facilities.”
“The future of HVAC will not be driven by equipment technology breakthroughs,” said Mr Stoller. “Rather, we will be designing to higher standards of human comfort and wellbeing; we will be spending less time calculating and drafting and more time thinking and consulting on system strategy and tricky details.”
Matthew Dillon is communications manager for AIRAH – www.airah.org.au/events