Skip Navigation Links Resources > Special Technical Groups > Environmentally Sustainable Design

Environmentally Sustainable Design




Over the past decade, those who work in the built environment have identified the need for the sector to improve its collective approach to sustainability. The principles of sustainability seek to integrate three closely interlinked elements - the environment, the economy, and the social system - in a manner that can be continuously developed and nurtured to reduce our impact on the planet.

HVAC&R systems are a major contributor to energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation. At the same time, they also play an essential role in contributing to the health and wellbeing of building occupants. We cannot do without them.

AIRAH members are involved at all points of the lifecycle of HVAC&R systems: research and development, equipment manufacture and supply, integrated design, installation, commissioning, operation, and maintenance and decommissioning.  The industry has profound environmental, economic and social impacts.

Through these activities AIRAH members have considerable influence in creating a more sustainable future through the implementation of practical measures to minimise energy and water use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality of life (such as improved indoor environment quality and improved product safety).

The ESD STG recently made a submission to the Green Building Council of Australia's Green Star - Design and As Built consultation paper, which can be viewed here.





The purpose of the AIRAH ESD STG is help AIRAH meet the strategic aim to “claim the sustainability space” and to provide members with a platform for involvement in ESD issues that affect their industry, including: policy advice; regulation development; plus the development of and access to industry-leading advice. This platform will promote a whole-of-supply-chain integrated view on sustainability issues and best-practice delivery in the Australian and international community..




  • Paul Graham, M.AIRAH (Chair)
  • Karen Hovenga, M.AIRAH (Deputy Chair)
  • Ania Hampton, M.AIRAH 
  • Alex Harrington, M.AIRAH 
  • Chris Wallbank, M.AIRAH
  • Borzou Shahsavand, M.AIRAH
  • Andrew Scerri, M.AIRAH
  • Paul Stoller, M.AIRAH
  • Wayne Lobo, Affil.AIRAH

Recent discussions


The initial task of the committee has been to define areas within the sustainability space where AIRAH should focus our attention. The focus areas intend to:

  • Leverage AIRAH members’ expertise, particularly in practical application; and
  • Cover key areas requiring professional development in the short to medium term.

Following is a preliminary list of focus areas; we hope to receive member feedback to refine and consolidate the list.

1. Adaptation

Adaptation of buildings including refurbishment and retrofitting addressing issues of:

  • climate change
  • energy efficiency improvements
  • regulation and policy
  • technology changes
  • maintenance and tuning

2. Energy Management and Efficiency


 Energy efficiency including:

  • energy reduction and peak demand managaement through mechanical systems (i.e. thermal storage)
  • technology based changes to energy demand
  • policy and regulation

3. Economics + Policy and Regulation

 Carbon economy issues including:

  • carbon tax
  • mandatory disclosure
  • enewable energy targets
  • compliance costs
  • licensing and registration to comply with regulations
  • policy and regulation

4. Rating Tools + Design and Simulation


 Application of rating tools and simulation including:
  • technical content of tools
  • competency of assessors and processes/protocols
  • consistency/conflict between tools and how members and stakeholders can dehelp undo the conflict between the multitude of tools
  • improving design decision making
  • policy and regulation

5. Commissioning, Operation, Maintenance and Decommissioning

 Improving outcomes beyond design through:

  • commissioning
  • tuning
  • operation
  • maintenance
  • Improved knowledge and linkages between design and operation regarding controls and operations
  • systems
  • strategies
  • modelling versus actual
  • buildability and maintainability




 If you are interested in being involved please email