Dennis Lee, Affil.AIRAH

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Why is HVAC&R important?
HVAC&R is incredibly important and I don’t think most of us realise just how important it is! This goes beyond the comfort that we often take for granted in our places of work – for those (un)lucky enough to work in an office – and homes. It is so essential to the fabric of our modern society that it is frankly mind boggling.

I thought I would share my top three things that impact us every day (and some we wouldn’t even realise!), in no particular order:
  1. We all like eating right? HVAC&R is essential to keeping food and beverages fresh and keeping at bay the ravages of time (and micro-organisms). The technological marvel of the refrigerator that we pretty much all have and take for granted (except when it doesn’t work) is an ingenious invention refined over generations to keep our food fresh from the farm to our plates. Moving produce over vast distances in a country as hot as Australia just wouldn’t be possible without the humble fridge, which would make living in a city pretty much impossible (unless, of course, you really like jerky) due to the sheer logistics of managing the volume of food a city needs without it all spoiling.
  2. Science is pretty important. It is how we were able to invent awesome things that make our life today great, like computers, planes and slurpees. But to do science, we need labs for experiments to discover things like what composition of metals works best to stop things from blowing up when in use. That requires standard temperatures and pressures to be maintained in a laboratory to ensure experiments can be replicated, and the science is sound. How do we make sure there is standard temperature and pressure in a lab? HVAC&R!
  3. You probably have a headache now if you have read this far. The convenience of handily packaged pharmaceuticals is a modern wonder, which goes beyond paracetamol to the huge array of drugs available to treat all manner of ailments, chemotherapy and the ability to keep a supply of blood critical to saving lives. All of this is only possible through HVAC&R, carefully maintaining conditions in the creation of these drugs, ensuring the dose is correct and the packaging is fit for purpose.

What do you do, and what is the most satisfying aspect of your work?
I do a wide variety of things, from reports to technical analysis of tricky problems. Probably best described as management with a bit of engineering thrown in for good measure (and because without the engineering, it would probably just drive me nuts – you’re generally allowed to hit engineering problems with a hammer).

The most satisfying thing about what I do is the scope of the impact that my role has on wider sustainability and the ability to influence positive practice at such scale and be able to see the results.

What will you be doing to celebrate World Refrigeration Day?
In true engineering style, there will be cold ones for the team to reinforce the importance of refrigeration! Cheers.