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CA Group Services managing director, Ian Tuena, has challenged the consulting industry to look outside the box and be more innovative when it comes to energy efficiency, especially when it is applied to refrigeration systems.

Sitting at my desk recently I pondered the standard of the projects being tendered and what we were trying to do both in the HVACR industry and this country .  Australia has signed up to COP 21. Just a couple of weeks ago COP 21 was ratified globally when over 70 countries and more than 56 per cent of the world’s emitters ratified the agreement. This means carbon neutrality by 2050.

Then there was the Kigali Amendment, a global HFC phasedown agreement under the Montreal Protocol. This means we have to begin to set targets and actually reduce our greenhouse gas emissions both direct and indirect and we need to start now . This really is nothing new.

This being the case, my question to the consulting industry is: what are you going to do to make a contribution to the reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions? When the previous government introduced the carbon tax, a very clear shot was fired across the industries’ bow. It blinked, it teetered, it briefly asked what now, but in reality nothing changed, and Hallelujah, a knight in shining armour, Sir Tony, came forth and delivered a salvation and it was business as usual.

This is vindicated by the daily dose of garbage called tender documents that come across my desk. I am yet to see one that is innovative, forward thinking and accepts the challenge of a different sustainable design.

Yes granted, there are many great and progressive building designs and they receive the accolades of innovation. Yet the heart, the very core of our industry, the refrigeration system (not the mechanical services, the refrigeration system) has received little or no attention from the consulting fraternity.

I have read documents stamped with “leaders in sustainability” all over them, yet I see no mention of the use of natural refrigerants (or any attempt to reduce our greenhouse emissions via the fundamental refrigeration system). The low hanging fruit is completely missed.

The consulting industry is made up of the so-called educated ones, the ones with the university degrees. Yet few if any, demonstrate any knowledge of the characteristics of the working fluids that are available or demonstrate the value of good design within the refrigeration system.

Rather they opt for the selection from a catalogue with very rubbery figures and all sorts of claims of energy efficiency in preference to sitting down and applying the fundamentals of thermodynamics and good design. So what am I asking? What am I saying? Am I slagging the consulting industry? NO! What I hope to do is challenge the consulting industry. My words are only my opinion.

The challenge is to sort out the wheat from the chaff. To do the hard yards and look outside the square, to really apply that university degree and do the investigative work required to find the correct maths, find the correct solution and come up an innovative display of energy efficiency engineering which meets our international commitments.

This energy efficiency engineering must include environmentally benign natural refrigerants because these, when applied correctly, deliver cycle efficiencies superior to those of synthetic refrigerants. HFOs and other chemical derivatives thereof including HFC/HFO blends marketed as “sustainable” are not the future - they are the lazy man’s solution. I was once told Australians are great managers of adversity and very poor managers of prosperity. For far too long we have taken the easy road and have lost the fundamentals. The good times have gone, we need to knuckle down and use this opportunity to become leaders.

I do not believe we need to look outside this country; great engineers are here. They just need to go back to the basics, then look outside the square and not at a hundred splits or VRV systems as solutions because in the not too distant future, they won’t be around.

About the Author - Ian Tuena is the managing director of CA Group Services He has some 43 years of industry experience and has been involved in the design, installation, commissioning and service of industrial ammonia refrigeration systems or commercial systems, supermarkets as well as secondary refrigerant re-circulation systems . He is a member of AIRAH and participates in the Natural Refrigerants Special Interest Group (SIG).

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