On 13 June, Timothy G. Wentz, PE, HBDP | Fellow / Presidential Member ASHRAE, gave the third of a series of three presentations over three weeks to the South African Chapter of ASHRAE. The third was on the topic of Back to the future: Our industry in 2030 hosted by the ASHRAE Society Chapter Technology Transfer Committee (CTTC). The following is a relatively complete review of the second part of that presentation, edited by Eamonn Ryan.

…continued from part one.


Recent events, such as the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, have highlighted the stark reality that we are not on track to meet our climate goals. The global average temperature has already risen by approximately 1.1°C, and the target of limiting warming to 1.5°C is slipping further away. This widening gap between where we need to be, and our current trajectory poses a significant challenge for our future.

Data provided by Swiss Re, an insurance company, emphasises the global nature of this problem. The graph of insurance losses showcases a substantial increase in frequency, signifying the inevitability of more severe and frequent disasters. This paints a vivid picture of our future, highlighting the urgent need for action. Acknowledging the reality of the climate crisis does not mean surrendering to its consequences. On the contrary, it serves as a call to redouble our efforts towards decarbonisation, energy efficiency and sustainable practices. The HVAC&R sector has a pivotal role to play in mitigating climate change and ensuring a resilient future for all.

Timothy G. Wentz, PE, HBDP | Fellow / Presidential Member ASHRAE. Image supplied by ASHRAE

Timothy G. Wentz, PE, HBDP | Fellow / Presidential Member ASHRAE. Image supplied by ASHRAE

To navigate the challenges ahead, the HVAC&R industry must embrace innovation and collaboration. This entails integrating advanced technologies, such as AI and machine learning, to optimise energy usage, enhance building performance and minimise environmental impact. By adopting integrated design approaches and leveraging tools like BIM, we can create more efficient and sustainable buildings.

Given the challenges we face and the likelihood of not meeting our climate goals, it is imperative to prioritise resilience. Resilience encompasses our ability to withstand and recover from adverse events, ensuring the continuity of operations in the face of disruptions. Furthermore, cybersecurity has emerged as a critical concern. A study conducted by the Mechanical Contractors Association reveals that approximately 60% of small to mid-sized corporations are ill-prepared to withstand a massive cyber-attack. As our industry predominantly comprises such enterprises, it becomes evident that cybersecurity is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Looking ahead, the future of the HVAC&R sector lies in a merging of sustainability, resilience, security, design and construction. Integrated design, which considers all these elements, is key to navigating the complex environmental landscape. By embracing this holistic approach, we can create buildings and systems that are efficient, sustainable, secure and adaptable to evolving challenges. The need for integrated solutions arises from the unique environmental circumstances we are likely to face in the future.

The HVAC Global Summit held by ASHRAE identified six common problems faced by the industry globally. These issues, which include energy efficiency, indoor air quality and climate change mitigation, present opportunities for HVAC&R professionals to make a meaningful impact. As the HVAC&R industry plays a vital role in each of these areas, it offers an avenue for individuals to contribute towards a sustainable future. For those considering a career in the HVAC&R sector, joining ASHRAE provides valuable opportunities for preparation and growth. ASHRAE has established the Task Force on Decarbonisation to align its efforts with global initiatives and enhance operational expertise to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy efficiency remains a crucial focus, as it is an integral component of decarbonisation. By leveraging cleaner energy sources and promoting electricity produced from low- carbon sources, ASHRAE aims to support the decarbonisation of buildings.

To meet the urgent challenges we face, ASHRAE has set ambitious goals to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030. This target reflects the pressing need for immediate action. The data available today demonstrates that we are not on track to mitigate the impacts of climate change effectively. By prioritising net-zero energy buildings, we can significantly reduce environmental impacts while reaping benefits such as cost savings, enhanced resilience and improved energy security. While decarbonisation presents a broader perspective, energy efficiency remains a vital component. ASHRAE members need not fear that the focus on energy efficiency will be abandoned in favour of decarbonisation. Both aspects are interdependent and essential to achieve sustainability goals. Buildings consume 35% of the world’s energy and emit 38% of carbon emissions. By prioritising energy efficiency, our industry can make a significant impact on climate change mitigation.

Buildings consume 35% of the world’s energy and emit 38% of carbon emissions. Image supplied by RACAJournal

Buildings consume 35% of the world’s energy and emit 38% of carbon emissions. Image supplied by RACA Journal


  • Behavioural change and design guides: Recognising the significance of human behaviour, ASHRAE invests considerable effort in understanding and harnessing its potential for energy Research has revealed that focusing on human behaviour can lead to 10-20% energy savings. ASHRAE’s Advanced Energy Design Guides and Zero Energy Design Guides offer valuable design ideas, now freely available for download. Additionally, ASHRAE has reformed its materials to align with social modelling, understanding that humans are inherently inclined to adapt to group behaviour. The Building Energy Quotient (Building EQ) measures the energy gap between design and operation, emphasising the role of human behaviour in energy efficiency.
  • Adaptability and agility: ASHRAE recognises the need for speed and adaptability in addressing emerging Just as a vintage car might evoke nostalgia, it is essential to acknowledge that it may not meet the demands of the future. ASHRAE is committed to becoming faster and more nimble, continuously evolving to keep pace.
  • Embracing growth and adaptability: In the words of wisdom from my grandfather, growth and decay are the only two states of being for individuals and organisations. ASHRAE recognises the importance of growth to benefit its members and the communities they serve. This includes eliminating silos, empowering decision-making at lower levels and fostering a collaborative approach through councils, regions and chapters.


The HVAC&R sector has a significant role to play in ensuring both energy and food security. Energy security is closely linked to energy efficiency, reducing reliance on the grid and mitigating risks associated with extraordinary events. ASHRAE is actively involved in promoting renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power, as well as supporting efforts to scale up investments in renewables. By embracing a people-cantered and inclusive approach to energy access, ASHRAE aims to combat energy poverty and its adverse effects.

Similarly, food security is an area where the HVAC&R industry can make a substantial impact. Proper refrigeration has the potential to preserve vast quantities of food, ensuring its availability to those in need. Estimates suggest that refrigeration could save 475 million tons of food, which could feed approximately 950 million people. ASHRAE recognises the importance of refrigeration in addressing food security and continues to work toward innovative solutions in this realm.