AIRAH 2021 in review

Wrapping up 2021
AIRAH's year-in-review

It’s been a big year at AIRAH – and for Australia.

We’ve seen movement on the professional registration of engineers. The major climate summit COP26 featured discussions around the built environment’s role. And, as we continue to adjust to the new normal, indoor air quality has dominated the news with ventilation getting its long-overdue chance in the spotlight.

As we head into the holiday break, we’re recapping the year that was. It is a glimpse into the work we’ve done to elevate the profile of the HVAC&R building services sector, champion our members and your work, and provide essential training opportunities and resources.

Thank you for being a part of AIRAH, and for your support throughout 2021.

We look forward to seeing you back online in 2022, as well as for the return of our hybrid conferences/forums and face-to-face division events, courses, and Industry Nights.

Temperzone Hitachi


A message from AIRAH Chief Executive Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH

“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven significant changes – not only for the world around us, but also for how AIRAH serves as a progressive force in the HVAC&R industry.

While further uncertainty lies ahead, 2022 also brings new opportunities to continue to promote and enhance the engineering profession with an agile edge.

As always, our actions truly do speak louder than words. And while AIRAH is getting on with the job, it is worth reflecting on some of our achievements in 2021.”

Celebrate the year with us at the AIRAH Awards 2021. Our gala dinner will take place in Sydney on Thursday, February 17, 2022. For more information and to book your ticket/table, please visit

AIRAH year-in-review – membership
Board appointments Paul Jackson, F.AIRAH, was named AIRAH’s President. We also welcomed Chris Stamatis, M.AIRAH, as a new appointment to AIRAH’s Board.

AIRAH would like to thank Ian Harwood, F.AIRAH, for his contributions to the organisation as President from 2017–2021, and Nathan Groenhout, F.AIRAH, for his time on the Board as Discretionary Director.
James Harrison Medal Paul Bannister, F.AIRAH, was named recipient of the James Harrison Medal, AIRAH’s highest honour. Bannister will formally accept this at the AIRAH Awards 2021 – February 17, 2022 in Sydney.
AIRAH10ONE At the Refrigeration 2021 Conference in Melbourne, we opened the AIRAH time capsule from 1995. We’ve also assembled and sealed the new version – a delayed commemoration of our 2020 100-year anniversary! What's inside? You'll find out in 2045...

AIRAH year-in-review – advocacy
Professional registration AIRAH supported the roll-out of professional registration schemes by providing input to government consultations and establishing the APER accreditation pathway for HVAC&R building services engineers.
Pandemic response and recovery During the pandemic, AIRAH shared the latest knowledge about COVID-19 and HVAC&R systems through our website, communications, publications, and by working with government and other industry bodies.
Government engagement In 2021, AIRAH strengthened relationships with government by stepping up our submissions to public consultations and in direct meetings with state and federal governments.
Industry spotlight We continue to raise the profile of HVAC&R. This year we helped ensure our industry was recognised as an essential service in COVID-19 restrictions, and ran a campaign during the Australian Census to highlight our sector.

AIRAH year-in-review – STGs
Membership involvement In 2021, our 10 Special Technical Groups (STGs) included a total of 167 active members, driving innovation across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
Events Our STGs helped organise Streamline sessions and some of our major 2021 events, including the Big Data and Analytics Forum, Building Physics Forum, Commissioning Virtual Forum, and Refrigeration Conference.
Output In addition to contributions to Ecolibrium, our STGs and members released the COVID-19 ventilation optimisation guide for primary and secondary schools; COVID-19 common practices: Advantages, disadvantages, risks, and comments (Infection Control and Operating Theatres STG); the Resilience Checklist (Resilience STG); and more essential industry resources.

AIRAH year-in-review – divisions



AIRAH ACT division
Our ACT division ran a popular site visit to 240 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra – a zero-emissions building. We also hosted 60 members and guests at a belated AIRAH ACT Centenary breakfast in March.

AIRAH NSW division
The Newcastle Industry Night took place in March, welcoming the largest number of attendees in over five years.

AIRAH NSW division
In 2021, AIRAH's NT division hosted exhibitors and attendees at the Darwin Industry Night. We were also able to celebrate some long-standing members receiving their 40-year certificates.

AIRAH Qld division
We made a long-awaited return to the Sunshine Coast for an Industry Night, and also hosted the sold out Brisbane Industry Night.

We also welcomed members to an interesting session on cyber security, plus a site visit to UQ’s ANLB building.

AIRAH SA division
The South Australia Centenary celebration was a very nice way for everyone to catch-up after a long time apart.

We also hosted the Apprentice of the Year Awards – an annual highlight in the SA calendar as we congratulate our hardworking apprentices.

AIRAH Tas division
It was a busy week of events in May, with the Tasmania division hosting a site visit to the Royal Hobart Hospital’s K-Block, the Hobart Industry Night, the Tasmania Centenary celebration, and the Hobart Golf Day.

AIRAH Vic division
Fortunate in timing, AIRAH's Victoria division was able to host the Melbourne Industry Night in March prior to further COVID-19 lockdowns.

At the Victoria AIRAH Centenary celebration, long-serving members reconnected and received their commemorative certificates and pins.

AIRAH WA division
The Women of AIRAH WA group hosted a seminar (“Mastering the Balance”) to a record number of women. Our annual Members’ Lunch welcomed 150 guests.

In November, we held the second WA HVAC&R Emerging Trends Symposium and the Perth Industry Night.

  AIRAH year-in-review – publishing
Ecolibrium continued its essential role as the premier HVAC&R technical journal in Australia. With eight issues distributed to the AIRAH membership and beyond, the publication reached more than 8,500 recipients each month.

  • Case studies: 3 Parramatta Square, Earth House, HVAC Centre of Excellence at Holmesglen’s Chadstone campus, 80 Collins St, Lightning Ridge’s proposed Australian Opal Centre, Port Adelaide’s 6 star NABERS Energy building, and Fernhurst’s world-first blast refrigeration facility.
  • COVID-related articles: The efficacy of UV-c in preventing COVID-19; COVID-19, digitisation and the modern workplace; and exploring the link between the built environment and environmental health in the age of COVID.
  • Topics: Best practice in airtightness and ventilation, pivoting towards a more sustainable future, passive principles for harmonised heat recovery, maintaining data centre uptime, data ontologies, and Passivhaus in the Australian climate.
  • Technical papers: Economy cycle and outside air control; Propagation of droplets in an HVAC system; Potential impact of evaporative cooling technologies on Australian office buildings; Carpark mechanical ventilation – time to take performance seriously; Best-practice energy performance benchmarking for refrigerated warehouses; Moderating the impact of integrating water-cooled servers into data centres; Next-generation fault detection for commercial building HVAC systems; Planning for carbon neutral in existing buildings.
>> As of 2022, Ecolibrium will boast a refreshed look and have a new home on a stand-alone website.

HVAC&R Nation
AIRAH’s trade-focused magazine continues to be distributed through about 300 outlets – including wholesalers and TAFEs – across the country. With a readership of 28,000 and eight issues in 2021, HVAC&R Nation is still Australia’s most widely read HVAC&R magazine.

  • Stories: Cutting-edge refrigeration installations, COVID-19 and indoor air quality, the Global Cooling Prize, building commissioning, and a homage to Australian refrigeration pioneer James Harrison.
  • Skills Workshops: Air and water balancing, air purifiers and UVGI, cooling tower access, and more.
>> As of 2022, HVAC&R Nation will be retitled HVAC&R News to better align with the HVAC&R News website.

It was a big year of news for HVAC&R, with COVID-19 dominating the media. In 2021, we published more than 500 articles with a 50 per cent increase in average monthly users to the site.

Our most-read stories included:

Other top stories of the year focused on HVAC&R technology:

AIRAH year-in-review – resources

We expanded our suite of technical resources with the release of the updated AIRAH Technical Handbook and four Design Application (DA) manuals.


AIRAH year-in-review – education

AIRAH continues to establish itself as the leading educator of the Australian HVAC&R industry. Over 250 people attended our technical courses across 20 face-to-face and virtual sessions. Our online education courses – including Air Conditioning 101 and the Professional Certificate in HVAC&R Fundamentals – had over 136 enrolments.

This year, with support from the ARBS Foundation, we also successfully launched the AIRAH accredited Professional Diploma in Sustainable HVAC Design and Operation.

Our Professional Diploma in Building Services – HVAC&R continued its momentum with another 61 students beginning the program in 2021, taking total enrolment to over 360 students since 2016.

AIRAH year-in-review – events
Major events This year, we held five major conferences/forums. Across the events, over 675 attendees heard insights from 12 keynote speakers, 126 speakers, and 12 panels/workshops.
Webinars We hosted 19 Streamline sessions this year, with over 1,900 attendees tuning in live. AIRAH members can watch recordings of these webinars (and earn CPD hours for this activity) here.

We also hosted our first Technology Talk, featuring a session on indoor air quality.

AIRAH year-in-review – online
Online Visitors to the AIRAH website may have noticed some updates over the year. We completely overhauled the About, Careers, and Education sections, making it easier than ever to find what you need.
Socials AIRAH has continued to have an active presence on social media, connecting with the HVAC&R building services industry on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This year, we welcomed over 1,750 new followers across our channels!
FairAir In 2021, we redesigned and relaunched the improved FairAir website. The site and its calculators provide in-depth, unbiased technical information to help consumers and HVAC&R professionals find the best home cooling and heating options.

There are many different ways to get involved with AIRAH in 2022! Please click here for information.


This page was last updated December 21, 2021

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