By Eamonn Ryan

Olu Soluade, president of ASHRAE South Africa chapter, as well as of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA), made an address at the CESA Gauteng Presidential function on 18 May, at which RACA Journal caught up with him to discuss events at ASHRAE as well as areas of collaboration between the two organisations.

Olu Soluade , president of ASHRAE South Africa chapter.

Olu Soluade , president of ASHRAE South Africa chapter. Image credit: © Eamonn Ryan | RACA Journal

Soluade noted that both sectors rely to a considerable extent for their workflow on the development of a sound, sustainable infrastructure – both in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

“Sustainability and infrastructure development are a key function for both HVAC and consulting to occur. If we are able to get our infrastructure advancing, then it becomes easier for HVAC contractors and artisans to be able to do their job. We are looking at an all-encompassing strategy at CESA, not specifically focused on the HVAC industry but on all sectors of construction. An entire nation becomes more developed through investment in infrastructure. When that occurs, then every single person, including those in HVAC, will have reason to smile. It will give impetus to think outside the box for HVAC development, and new ideas will emerge from it.”

Soluade explains that he sees considerable prospects for infrastructure to start improving in South Africa, and indeed, the rest of Africa.

“We see it, because if I look at the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), and the scale of investment that is currently being derived from the US’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), it means that we need to start thinking beyond the norm, in order for us as an industry to be able to benefit. If I look at the current state of South Africa in respect of loadshedding, it forces us to start thinking of increasing our scale of investment in infrastructure development. It is key to our survival.

“The rest of Africa used to have the problem that South Africa is now experiencing with loadshedding. Their attitude and the actions currently being taken are completely different from what is happening in South Africa. There is a lot of stability in those countries. Even when one looks at the bane of corruption, African countries have started tackling what is only now arising within South Africa. In Africa, a lot of good things are happening at the moment and many South African companies, consulting engineers and HVAC or construction contractors are establishing a footprint in the rest of Africa.

“In Nigeria, for instance, there is a lot of development in data centres. Such companies either go to the UK, or they look to partner with foreign consulting engineers and contractors including those from South Africa when it comes to commissioning, design and best practice certification.”

Attendees at the CESA Presidential Function held at The Premier Hotel, Midrand on 18 May, 2023.

Attendees at the CESA Presidential Function held at The Premier Hotel, Midrand on 18 May, 2023. mage credit: © Eamonn Ryan | RACA Journal

Though ASHRAE is a more focused body than CESA, Soluade says there is considerable scope for assisting each other. He notes that with refrigeration becoming a major factor in the food chain industry and improving food sustainability, there is an advantage in him serving on both boards. “I can leverage the substantial local footprint of CESA to help ASHRAE and at the same time the footprint of ASHRAE from the global perspective can assist CESA as well.”

Soluade says momentum is currently building in ASHRAE: “We have the Board of Governors meeting this afternoon and then we have international speaker Prof. Tim Wentz presenting three public talks over three weeks”:

  • A Human behaviour approach to net zero energy buildings (30 May)
  • The ethics of money: bidding, payment applications and change orders (5 June)
  • Back to the future: pour industry in 2030 (14 June)

These three presentations will be featured in future RACA Journal issues.

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