Alan Obrart, L.AIRAH
The CV of Institute luminary Alan Obrart, L.AIRAH, is a who’s who of the Australian HVAC&R industry. An office bearer for Engineers Australia since 1978, he is also a former president of AIRAH (1991–1992); the current vice-president of the Society of Building Services Engineers; and has held councillor positions with RACCA and AMCA.
Obrart was the owner of a design-and-construct air conditioning contracting business, which ran from 1976–2000. After selling this business, he continued as a consulting engineer in building services. This is still ongoing, part-time.
When most people might be looking to retire, he also took on the role of adjunct senior lecturer and co-ordinator for Sydney University’s graduate building services program, to provide better learning outcomes for young (and not so young) engineers and architects.
On top of all that, Obrart is an occasional contributor to Ecolibrium, AIRAH’s industry journal, and was inducted into the ARBS Hall of Fame in 2014. He also published a textbook – Building Services Engineering for Architects and Building Services Professionals (fourth edition) – in 2016.
An enormous presence in our industry, Obrart is also the winner of AIRAH’s highest honour – the James Harrison Medal.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
An early interest in air conditioning as a technology… and the delusion I could make good money in this industry.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
Years back, Howard Jones of the New South Wales committee organised interviews with our “old” members – many of whom were long forgotten. He invited them to our monthly meetings, after decades, just to introduce themselves and receive a medal. There was not a dry eye in the place as these old gentlemen from the 1930s and 40s told their stories, recorded and published by Jones. Thank you, Howard, for a great job.
Second, recent AIRAH/ARBS dinners do a great job of showcasing the growth and prosperity of our industry.
Finally, reading the current Ecolibrium – an excellent review of where the industry is, and where it’s going.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I originally joined in 1981. I was a Fellow member, an ex-National President, and I am now a Life member.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
There will be a big focus on sustainable, integrated design to improve the cost-effectiveness and customer/client appreciation of our “product”. There will be a greater focus on controls, the difficult, not-sufficiently-understood or publicised, kept-in-the-background sector of our industry.