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Has ISHRAE Played its Role to Perfection?
24 June 2015

The short answer to this question – technically speaking – is that it is ‘A Story of Missed Opportunities’. The misses – looking back over a few decades – are by no means negligibly small; nor do they relate to insignificant issues. We list 4 of them below briefly.

1. This story begins with the ODP issue – it may also be called ‘the ammonia issue’. Ammonia could have been encouraged, but we missed the bus.

2. Missing to register its presence in the debate on energy aspects of buildings and in the framing and formulation of ECBC meaning no genuine participation in the discourses on such a vital issue – especially with the government was another opportunity lost.

3. Much the same thing needs to be said on an issue of even greater importance, viz. Global Warming, GHGs, carbon emissions, climate change...

4. Failing to push adaptive approach and passive (natural) cooling strategies – something that is directly linked to significant achievable emission reductions.

The point that keeps coming up again and again in discussions on all the points is the need for minimizing energy consumption. HVAC buildings continue to remain too cold in summer and too warm in winter all over the world, India not excepted. Exerting ourselves to promoting the concepts and changing of mindsets to push adaptive approach strongly in this context would have been the right thing to do; instead, we have exercised the non-existing option of doing nothing about it.


The Backdrop

Let us take this opportunity to review the background of the birth and growth of the HVAC industry in our country. It has sprung essentially from the west. The west has served us well all these years, but this will not continue for long. Just depending on aping western practices, styles, technologies and solutions will not do. Continuing to use only western concepts, technology and equipment, even when we do not require them and they do not suit us, is not acceptable. At the same time, the (benign) influence of the west should not be disregarded or discarded totally either; but, we need to take the most appropriate and the best of the west and adapt them to suit our requirements. We should also find other ways– alternate ways of tackling our problems – and pursue those ways. Thus, and in other ways, we need to learn to stand on our own legs. What we have to overcome is – lack of conviction, lack of confidence, lack of spine . . . all resulting in poor articulation, and absence of anything like genuine advocacy. Today there is some talk about using LEDs in buildings. A great idea, no doubt, but one should not forget the immediate application is for commercial buildings, office buildings, public buildings and the like . . . . and in advanced countries, whose focus

is on enhancing their lavish consumption and lavish life styles, but its beneficial impact on poor people – all over the world is minimal. ‘The today’s talk’ is from no less than our PM. Obviously this concept should have come to him in various ways – from listening to experts, in our country – and abroad as well, and of course, the print media and the electronic media; but did he hear it from ISHRAE? Either in favour or otherwise. Did he?


Main Stream HVAC & Adaptive Approach

Main stream HVAC will of course, continue to grow strongly in the coming years – as indeed it should. But this does not mean that attention should not be paid to technologies which contribute to elevating standards of comfort of the poorer people of the world by alternate solutions, which also provide an incomparably more powerful and affordable tools to conserve energy, cut down emissions and thus contribute positively and significantly towards reduction of Global Warming. The benefits of applying the adaptive approach and alternate solutions are far too many and far too well known to our professionals to need elaboration.


Advocacy and Creating Awareness

One would imagine that ISHRAE would have played a major role in the four scenarios chosen as examples, but has it? Study of the topics, informed discussions leading to professionally analyzed approaches – results presented as competently argued proposals, could have been worked out and articulated convincingly to the relevant authorities. But has it happened? One would suppose that this is one of the functions of an organization which focuses on Advocacy. Also, is there any way we can believe that any considerations of ISHRAE’s objectives and aims have ever been brought to bear on the way these issues have been viewed – and handled? A technical society – in which technology must necessarily play a large role, one presumes, would not be unduly influenced by commercial factors in its discourses and functions. ISHRAE has got just the kind of structure that it requires to display the freedom from the power of external influences, which is so essential in a professional society because its membership is open only to individuals and not to anybody else, including in particular the corporates. It is hard to find suggestions from our performance in the past several decades to conclude that ISHRAE has in fact achieved that freedom (from external influences).


Interacting with Professionals Societies in other Disciplines, NGOs and the Government

The points covered today are sensitive. Where do we go from here and what are the options? The organization could change and improvements brought about from within. Changes and new methods of working could be encouraged – like for example, forming ginger groups, special groups, task groups . . . that could address the issues more informally than the committees that characterize today’s structure, and the committees in ISHRAE could receive inputs from them and take up the process of implementation. Such groups can address any subjects of their choice, including those which are seen to be the driving forces of the future. Some members could be engaged on their own (and they should be encouraged) in organizations like NGOs and bring to bear the benefits of interactions with a wide variety of expertise and at various levels, down to ISHRAE’s own work. These are just a few thoughts, but it is important, in any case, to

ensure that discussions, debates and discourses occur freely in ISHRAE and that it should be involved in identifying and finding solutions to upcoming issues of vital importance. In other words, it is ISHRAE that should be the go-to party that the government should look to, whenever they encounter problems in the HVACR scenario. There is not much new in what I have said, as I have been talking at various fora and writing in various journals for several years now on these and related topics. Many of these writingshave appeared in this Journal.


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