Peter Dobney, F.AIRAH
A third-generation AIRAH member, Peter Dobney, F.AIRAH, can boast of a distinguished career that saw him follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather – Bill Dobney Jr and Sr, respectively – by becoming a mechanical engineer and joining AIRAH.
He enjoyed noted success working on challenging projects such as the Australian Antarctic Division’s bases at Mawson and Casey.
Dobney graduated from Swinburne University as a mechanical engineer in 1974. His final year project was spent designing and building a (working!) hovercraft.
He joined the Commonwealth Department of Works (later known as the Department of Housing and Construction/Australian Construction Services), as a cadet engineer in 1972. All the cadet engineers were put on training courses, including refrigeration, air conditioning, acoustics and building modelling in wind tunnels.
In 1982, Dobney joined Enersonics Consulting Engineers, specialising in energy audits, efficient designs for buildings and – when energy markets opened – energy procurement.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
My father, Bill Dobney Jr, started his career as a refrigeration mechanic during WWII, and later qualified as a mechanical engineer. He eventually became managing director of Luke Airconditioning (formerly Applied Airconditioning).
My grandfather, Bill Dobney Sr, was a refrigeration designer and salesman for Werner Refrigeration – so you could say I had refrigeration in my blood!
Both my father (a former AIRAH President, 1965–66), and my grandfather, had long-standing involvement with AIRAH.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
Design of buildings and building services for the Australian Antarctic bases at Mawson and Casey, including building thermal insulation, heating, ventilation and heat recovery, powerhouse and reticulated heating hot water and drinking water.
Designing laboratories for CSIRO and CSL including the Human Vaccine Building at Parkville, Materials Science Laboratories at Clayton and the Australian Radiation Laboratories at Watsonia.
Designing one of the first ground-source heat pump systems in Australia at Victoria University’s Werribee Campus – the engineering and science building.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I became a student member of AIRAH in 1972, and, despite a change in career path into energy, I have been a member ever since.
I can still recall attending AIRAH evening lectures in the 1970s at Clunies-Ross House with my father and grandfather.
Some of the highlights as an AIRAH member include:
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
We will see more emphasis on the passive design of buildings so that they require less heating and cooling.
There will be more use of renewable energy, including eventually moving from natural gas to more sustainable fuel sources such as hydrogen.