AIRAH's Refrigeration STG

The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is an essential part of the Australian economy, with refrigeration forming part of almost all aspects of modern life. Without its services, our major cities and much of our agriculture, energy and chemical industries, telecommunications sector, manufacturing sector, transport sector, food processing, food preservation, food distribution sector, and health sector would not be able to function.

For information on AIRAH’s Refrigeration Conference, please visit

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About this topic
Purpose and aims

Resources and links
Get involved

About this topic

Refrigeration systems can be very energy intensive and there is a great opportunity to design, install, and operate them much more efficiently. This will need to be supported by appropriate information, education, training, awareness raising, business cases, legislation, codes and standards development, etc.

As the leading trusted voice in technical guidance in Australia, it is imperative for AIRAH to work with relevant industry and government stakeholders to identify the challenges and barriers for advancing our industry to a safe, highly skilled, competent, cost-effective, and environmentally effective one. The AIRAH Refrigeration STG will support AIRAH in all matters relating to the refrigeration industry, providing technically accurate and unbiased information with a focus on energy efficiency, safety, skills, environmental impact, and sustainability.


About the industry

According to the Cold Hard Facts reports, the HVAC&R sector employs around 300,000 people in Australia, including designers, installers, maintenance personnel, plant operators and service staff, equipment providers, and controls companies. It is a large and growing industry with high demand for good quality workers.

There have been dramatic, global changes over the past 30 years in refrigeration technology and refrigerants used. CFCs, once the mainstays of refrigerants, have been phased out due to their ozone depleting potential (ODP), forcing a transition to HFCs via HCFCs. HCFCs are in their final stage of being phased out, and many HFCs are also being phased down due to their high global warming potential (GWP). More than 100 countries, including Australia, have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and committed to reducing their use of HFCs. 

Australia is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, meaning it has committed to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050. These reductions include a focus on reducing direct emissions from HVAC&R systems through the HFC phase-down, and reducing indirect emissions through improved energy efficiency. For leak-tight HFC-based systems, the direct emissions represent approximately 10 per cent of the total environmental impact over the life of the system, whereas indirect emissions represent approximately 90 per cent. This assumes systems are supplied with electrical energy generated by means of fossil fuels (Velders et al, 2015). This emphasises the strong challenge faced by industry with respect to improved energy performance for all refrigeration systems.


About the Australian HFC phase-down

The federal government has committed to a gradual reduction in the amount of bulk HFCs permitted to be imported into Australia, leading to an 85 per cent reduction by 2035. To support this effort, the HVAC&R industry needs to understand the implications for the systems they design and install. This includes aspects such as risk management, change management, WHS, standards, codes, education, information, implementation, refrigerant options, skills needs, new technology, and research gaps.

End-users of HVAC&R look to industry professionals to provide them with clear cost-benefit analyses to make fully informed decisions, not only in relation to the capital costs of transitioning to low-GWP refrigerants, but also the benefits. Clear and unbiased information about these benefits is vital to help the AIRAH membership guide end-users.

The next generation of refrigerants bring a range of new safety and environmental considerations, from flammability and toxicity issues to asphyxiation potential and toxic by-products of combustion. This needs to be carefully managed in all refrigeration applications, including those that form part of HVAC systems.



AIRAH’s Refrigeration STG has developed and released a position statement (March 2020) for HVAC&R licensing in Australia.

It is AIRAH’s belief that to achieve our national climate goal commitments and provide a safe and comfortable environment for all Australians, we need a skill-based, harmonised licensing system for HVAC&R technicians.


Purpose and aims

AIRAH’s Refrigeration STG provides its members with a platform for involvement in issues affecting their industry, including:

  • Policy advice and regulation development
  • Development and/or dissemination of codes and standards
  • Sustainability and environmental impact
  • Energy efficiency
  • Emissions reduction
  • Risk management
  • Change management
  • Development of (and access to) industry-leading advice

The STG promotes a holistic, integrated view on issues related to the activities of the group and AIRAH, plus information on best-practice delivery in Australia and around the world.

The Committee aims to:
Promote industry leadership on best practice approaches Encompassing these key focus areas:
  1. Energy efficiency and emissions reduction at the design level
  2. The safe and responsible use of all refrigerants
  3. Access and reference to current and applicable design guides, case studies, and papers
  4. Keep members updated with current domestic and international developments
Promote reduced carbon emissions Promote awareness of the possibility of reducing direct and indirect carbon emissions by using new developments of technology in the refrigeration industry, or simply by better application of existing technology.
Policy guidance The STG will serve as a reference point for government in shaping relevant policy relating to the environmental, economic, and social impact of HVAC&R and related systems.
Advocacy and influence The STG will make submissions on behalf of members to influence policy setting (as collectively agreed upon), and work with government at all levels to establish workable regulations, frameworks, and guidelines.
Identify and seek funding for collaborative projects The STG will identify and seek external funding for collaborative projects that support its objectives and aims of AIRAH and its members.
Considered, integrated, and technically objective guidance The STG will provide guidance to the HVAC&R industry to develop a considered, integrated, and technically objective approach to big data and analytics.
The creation of special interest groups (where needed) Where needed, the STG will create special interest groups led by industry knowledge champions. These will help to further the interests of the Committee.
Formalise and track progress The STG will establish a rolling list of projects/outcomes to be accomplished for the calendar year. The list will be updated yearly with interim reviews as appropriate.
Refrigerant choices Assist the HVAC&R industry in making refrigerant choices that are rational and sustainable.
Refrigerant use Assist AIRAH in training, regulatory issues, and policy development in the use of all refrigerants.

The Committee aims to deliver:

  • Input to AIRAH’s formal responses to government and stakeholder policies and papers.
  • A voluntary Energy Intensity Rating system for refrigeration compliance/quality checking. This may also result in software or rating tools being developed, or customisation of existing tools.
  • Assistance to industry in developing energy efficient solutions, rather than relying on unitary equipment default options. This includes architects, end users, building owners, etc.
  • Awareness initiatives on refrigeration as an industry to attract high-quality people at all levels.
  • A review of existing international refrigeration design guidelines and standards that would be suitable for adoption or to supplement current Australian Standards and safety guides.
  • Access to a database of papers, presentations, and case studies.
  • Presentations at forums/site visits etc., including for education of users of HVAC&R systems.


AIRAH's refrigeration webinar series Join us throughout 2023 for a free series of webinars exploring the key fundamentals of refrigeration.
Learn more


The Refrigeration STG helps to organise AIRAH’s Refrigeration Conference.

The 2022 edition took place as a hybrid event (in Sydney and online) from May 16–17.


Resources and links


We have collated this extensive list of refrigeration resources from AIRAH and other industry bodies. AIRAH also offers a number of technical courses on refrigeration, including ammonia safety.


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To view the members of AIRAH’s Refrigeration STG, click here.


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Get involved

Please click here for more information on AIRAH’s STGs and their work.

To get involved with the Refrigeration STG, please email [email protected]


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