Nicki Parker, M.AIRAH
Nicki Parker, M.AIRAH, is the sustainability lead for the Brisbane office of Norman Disney & Young. She is also the chair of AIRAH's Resilience Special Technical Group.
Originally from a small town in the UK's South Wales, Parker studied mathematical engineering in Birmingham. Although she loved the core maths and mechanical engineering elements of her degree, she says it was a third-year course in fluid dynamics where Parker's close association with HVAC&R really began.
After graduating, she took on a computational fluid dynamics modelling role with AECOM's Advanced Design Group in Manchester. It was here that Parker expanded her thinking into sustainability and energy-efficient design.
In 2011, Parker moved to Australia, originally settling in Melbourne. Making the move to Brisbane in 2016, her current role at NDY involves the growth and development of the engineering consultancy's sustainability offerings in Queensland. She looks forward to pushing the concept of performance-based sustainable, pragmatic design in to the future.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
I didn’t know a great deal about how buildings worked when I first left uni, but having a carpenter/joiner as a dad helped me understand a lot about how buildings were constructed. I was able to put the physics behind different opportunities and look at how conditions change throughout the year. It was then that I realised that you could really optimise the buildings we work and live in to use less resources and be more comfortable.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
So many great memories, from working with clients and colleagues to helping to break down the stigma around computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling, to seeing design solutions like Big Ass Fans installed in Adelaide Oval as a result of some thermal comfort work I had done. Probably my favourite, though, has been getting to know people through AIRAH – some of which I now call very dear friends.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I remember going to my first Future of HVAC Conference in Melbourne in 2015. I was so excited to hear people talking about things I understood and, even better, about things I hadn’t thought about. From that moment I was sold and joined AIRAH pretty much straight after!
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
That simulation doesn’t have to be painful and take forever! This covers energy modelling, CFD or any other type of modelling the industry does. The key to performance driven design is using appropriate levels of detail at the right time, and being comfortable with what your models don’t do, as well as what they can do.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
With the levels of automation and data generation we are currently seeing, I think it would be naive to think the way we approach building design isn’t going to change dramatically. Rather than just having responsive systems, we need to think about responsive buildings and how to provide comfort at zero energy penalty. Not only that, but we have seen the growth of health and well-being consideration over the last few years and I think it still has far to go. What if our buildings made us healthier throughout the day? I don’t have the answers but I’m excited to see where our industry can lead the charge in this area.