Dr Stephen White

The HVAC&R industry’s sustainability initiative, PRIME, in collaboration with AIRAH and CSIRO, is working to establish Australia’s first Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling.

The hub is seen as a key mechanism for facilitating the industry’s transition to a low-emissions future.

Funding will come from contributions from industry and additional funding from government is also being sought. Eventually it is hoped to be self-supporting through growing the membership base and returns from IP generated through activities within the hub.

Its target market includes manufacturers, product entrepreneurs, designers and consultants.

“The Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling will provide virtual and physical spaces where a community of industry innovators, designers and educators can easily access knowledge and research infrastructure,” AIRAH chief executive Tony Gleeson said.

He said it would enable Australian small to medium enterprises to accelerate product development, with access to “cutting-edge intellectual property”, independent technology validation, and interfaces with venture capital investment.

Job creation is also a focus. Mr Gleeson said the hub aspired to create more than 200 jobs from new products and services, see innovative low-energy designs used on at least 10 major projects and establish a new tertiary education undergraduate degree major in building services.

CSIRO energy efficiency domain leader Dr Stephen White said the hub would create a connected HVAC innovation community in Australia.

“‘Collaborate to innovate’ is the key theme, with low-emission heating-cooling solutions for buildings the primary focus,” Dr White said.

The hub plans on incorporating a shared IP platform, a streamlined and flexible research environment, living laboratories and design studios.

The goal for the design studios will be to provide a way for developers and asset owners to work with the design industry to explore new high-performance building solutions in greater detail. They will also provide access to international networks and knowledge.

The living laboratory element involves an actual location that is available to trial innovative HVAC&R products and services.

“In a living laboratory all interested stakeholders – owner, suppliers, users and researchers – can participate, collaborate, co-create and reflect on improvements and alternative solutions,” Dr White said.

“We want to help Australian SMEs compete on the world stage. We encourage companies to join up as members to gain access to all these resources and free testing infrastructure.”