Ashak Nathwani, through 33 years

8 July – Ashak Nathwani wrapped up 33 years with Norman Disney & Young last month with a rousing farewell in Sydney at the Sergeants Mess in Chowder Bay and some reminiscing thanks to a Q and A session organised by his daughter Rehana. His next role will be as  lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Sydney, in the faculty of architecture.

Mr Nathwani who arrived in Australia after being expelled from a ravaged Uganda in 1972, said in the Q and A that his interest in sustainability started with his father’s influence in “respecting nature and his view that “anything in excess was not healthy”. For Mr Nathwani this also meant the “minimisation of consumption of energy, water and materials – the essential ingredients of sustainability.”

Mr Nathwani led the NDY environment discipline which he said was ahead of the  trend its contribution to publications  on carbon trading and sponsoring research nearly a decade ago from academics such as  Jacqueline Vischer of Montreal University and the Late David Rowe from Sydney University, on issues such as indoor environment quality.

Another key interest was in geothermal systems, carrying out six such installations, “all of which are still in operation and achieving better than average energy (and hence cost) savings together with very low maintenance costs,” he told farewell guests.

However, the recent 1 Bligh Street in Sydney topped the list for “challenging but informative” design work he said.

The biggest changes he had seen in the industry over his career included the erosion of the architect’s role in development as project managers took over, and secondly some builders becoming  major investors. But for engineers thermal modelling and computational fluid dynamics had made it more exciting for engineers to carry out analysis and come up with better designs.

Mr Nathwani named key sustainability projects he had worked on: the Aquatic and Athletic centres as well as the ACER Arena for the Olympics, a data centre for Woolworths, project managed by Sam Johnstone, that is aims for comparatively high energy efficiency using “around 26 runs of computational fluid dynamics, thanks to Prof John Kent, to evaluate all types of arrangements ranging from hot/cold aisle segregation to chimney cabinets.”

Mr Nathwani has also been a chair of sustainability roundtable for Consult Australia and was involved with recent publication and launch of Seizing the Sustainability Advantage white paper with Jonathan Carteledge and Megan Motto, and taught an operations and facility management course for the Property Council of Australia.

A key belief, he says is that the “sustainability cycle” needs to extend beyond design and installation into facility operations and management.

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