Jesse Clarke, M.AIRAH
Jesse Clarke, M.AIRAH, grew up in Sydney and completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Photovoltaics and Solar Energy at UNSW. He then worked in ESD consulting in Sydney and London, and in the building products manufacturing industry where his primary focus was on insulation and glass.
While working in building products, Clarke became Chair of AIRAH’s Building Physics Special Technical Group (STG). He now tries to lead the industry to better, more adequately air-sealed, healthy, durable, and energy-efficient buildings.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
I was always tied to the construction industry through family history, and I grew up around residential construction sites.
I never had a direct passion for machinal engineering, but I ended up working with AIRAH because I wanted to make more sustainable buildings. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I stared working as an ESD consultant, which seemed to be primarily about increasing thermal performance of the building envelope to reduce cooling and heating loads.
Dissatisfied with on-paper designs – knowing that what was being drafted and designed had little chance in the real world of delivering what computer models suggested – I set out to work out why. The goal was to utilise construction practices to deliver a building fabric requiring little energy to keep comfortable – in reality, not just theory.
I still don’t know a lot about mechanical engineering or HVAC&R. My goal is not to waste the efforts of the AIRAH members who design elaborate systems to keep our buildings warm and cosy in winter and cool in summer.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
Some of the AIRAH Awards nights have been pretty fun, but making change is the big one.
Recently we finalised negotiations with ASHRAE to utilise their IP in DA07 Criteria for Moisture Control Design Analysis in Buildings – a huge stepping-stone to creating healthy, airtight structures.
What’s something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
I’d rather hear their story.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
How have you seen the industry change in your time?
Very, very slowly. Sometimes I think time has stopped. But then I remember I’m in the construction industry.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
From my perspective it will be about a far better integration of the HVAC with the building fabric. These two things need to work together. As airtightness is improved, the way air is moved into, out of, and around buildings gets much more critical. So that’s the first 30 years taken up.
We will see more smart systems that allow the building fabric to be optimised to take the onus off the HVAC. There will be a focus on reducing heat gains and heat loss so less heating, and cooling capacity can be delivered more efficiently through better building products, better HVAC technologies, or – ideally – integration of building products that can absorb, reject, and store heat when required to take the onus off heating and cooling systems.
If Australia gets serious about tightening up the air infiltration in buildings, this will drive mass change in the evolution of HVAC solutions that work highly effectively with super insulated and airtight building fabric.
After that, it’s about rejecting heat to large heat sinks that are basically infinite, like outer space, to keep our super homes cool, and making use of simple but effective smart ventilation technologies – especially as IoT continues to evolve.
It seems that every new generation of refrigeration gas has its own set of problems, so hopefully other methods of shifting heat that don’t require refrigerant gas may be mainstream within 100 years.