Simon Hill, L.AIRAH
A life member of AIRAH, Simon Hill is widely known and highly respected both within the Institute and throughout Australia’s HVAC&R industry.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Sydney University, Hill secured his first job in 1970 with Nestlé Australia working on spray drying, low-temperature coolrooms, chocolate cooling tunnels, and production machinery. Over the following decades his talents opened doors in different companies both in Australia and abroad, including London and Singapore.
In 1988, while working with Environ, Hill joined the Standards Australia sub-committee responsible for HVAC in the control of fire and smoke in buildings, AS 1668.1 – and he remained a member (and chair) of this committee until 2018. Hill also served on related Standards Australia sub-committees for Maintenance of Fire Safety Systems, AS 1851, and Fire and Smoke Dampers, AS 1682.
In 1996, Hill was a member of the steering committee inaugurating the NSW Chapter, Society of Fire Safety, and the following year he began a sole practice consultancy, Professional Engineering Solutions Pty Ltd, providing regulatory compliance advice, professional opinions and industry training in the fields of HVAC and smoke control on behalf of AMCA and AIRAH.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
In 1973, after a year of travelling in Southeast Asia and Europe, I was working in London on a meagre salary. Having just become engaged to be married, I returned to Australia to get a proper job to satisfy my prospective wife — and her father.
My three years with Nestlé Australia had given me some experience in HVAC, especially psychrometrics (spray drying, process cooling and cold stores). With this rather minimal experience I applied for a job as an HVAC designer in the Sydney office of a major D&C contractor, T O’Connor & Sons. Fortunately, I was interviewed for the job by the chief engineer, Mike Timar, who I already knew professionally from my time working with Nestlé. I commenced with T O’Connors in January 1974 as estimator, designer and, occasionally, site manager.
While at O’Connors, I learnt HVAC site management from Peter Bossink (project manager sans pareil), and HVAC&R engineering from Mike Timar, one of the most consummate professionals in the Sydney HVAC industry at the time.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
Thirty-three years in August this year.
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
The HVAC&R industry not only provides comfort conditions for the living and working environment of wealthy people and large corporations. It is also essential for:
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
While president of the NSW division of AIRAH, I initiated the annual “Mistakes” seminar, which AIRAH NSW has run for almost 20 years at the November monthly meeting – always well-attended. This two-hour cathartic seminar gives AIRAH members an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others and, in doing so, avoid those mistakes in their own projects, raise the standard of their own work and, in turn, raise the professionalism of the HVAC&R industry.
The Mistakes event format involves six experienced practitioners who each speak for 15 minutes at a confidential, “industry only” forum. Their stories about mistakes are always interesting, perhaps embarrassing, sometimes funny and often expensive, but contribute significantly to helping our industry avoid repeated errors.
In my opinion, this type of seminar is an essential part of our industry association’s contribution to the Continuing Professional Development of all HVAC&R practitioners.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
Recognising that the HVAC&R industry is a major user of energy, much of which is generated by fossil fuels, there will be more development of technology using existing and innovative application of thermal mass, insulating materials and high-efficiency cooling cycles to reduce energy consumption of HVAC&R systems.
More HVAC systems will be designed to control indoor environments beyond the supposedly “ideal” comfort range of 22.5°C ± 1.5°C and 50% RH. The validity of this proposal is supported by the ISO Standard: Moderate Thermal Environments ISO 7730 as well as work being done in Australia (by AIRAH Members). These systems depend on the premise that if each occupant can control temperature, humidity, air movement and clothing, then thermal comfort can be achieved over a range of indoor air temperatures perhaps as wide as 18°C to 26°C, incurring less energy consumption than systems using the “ideal” range of 21–24°C.