AIRAH outlines the future of HVAC in a net-zero world
The Australian Institute of Refrigeration,
Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) says building regulations must
assess true performance and target net-zero energy, and that mandatory energy disclosure for existing buildings is a must.
These are some of the findings from the recently released Future of HVAC – in a Net-Zero World, an AIRAH foresighting report.
The report is based on a foresighting workshop in which a
variety of experts and practitioners from the HVAC, building services
and associated industries considered what form HVAC will take in the
net-zero building sector of the future.
“Foresight can help an industry navigate change by providing
an early warning of the barriers and opportunities ahead, and it also
provides evidence for government policy makers with grass roots
insights” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH.
“By tasking a group of experts and practitioners to develop a
credible picture of future buildings and future heating, ventilation
and air conditioning (HVAC), AIRAH has been able to start the
conversation on the strategies that can be used, and the changes to
industry, technology and practice that will be required to make this
The experts were posed the question, “How can our energy-intensive approach to HVAC in buildings be further developed, refined and changed to help deliver the net-zero buildings of the future?”
The paper provides a snapshot of future HVAC in a net-zero
world, and outlines some of the main themes from the workshop
discussions, such as:
The changing relationship and behaviour between occupants and buildings.
- A shift in the approach and objectives for town planners.
- A move to low-energy HVAC technologies, including step changes in controls.
A regulatory focus on building performance rather than construction.
- The extension of government regulation into operational energy use.
AIRAH’s Phil Wilkinson, F.AIRAH, says that following an
analysis of the most likely changes that are needed and the most common
barriers that may be encountered, a series of recommendations or actions
have been developed to help government and industry understand how the
HVAC and property sectors can best transition to delivering and managing
net-zero energy buildings.
“AIRAH will continue to lead industry change by ensuring the
implementation of the PRIME whole-of-HVAC&R industry strategy for
the transition to low emissions. AIRAH is working with the CSIRO and
PRIME to establish an Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling,
or iHub.” Wilkinson says. “And of course, the Institute will continue
to advocate for energy policy changes to incentivise the design and
delivery of net-zero buildings and low-emission HVAC.”
The key findings of the foresighting report are:
Building regulations must assess true performance and target net-zero energy over time.
- A renewed focus on existing buildings is required,
including mandatory energy disclosure, incentives for energy efficiency
maintenance, and upgrade assistance and support.
- Training and education initiatives should help all
stakeholders understand the risks and opportunities of a net-zero
building. Development of a Net-Zero Building Retrofit Toolkit and
behaviour-change programs for building users are key.
- Increased research into low-emission HVAC and better
support for innovative technology and approaches are needed. On the
agenda: an HVAC research roadmap and improved research/industry
- Increased investment in Australian research for Australian
innovations in HVAC is required to counteract the conservatism of the
- Government and industry should support innovation and
commercialisation of low-emission HVAC technologies by supporting
To access the report, go to www.airah.org.au/foresight