Government funding announced for i-Hub’s integrated design studios

Funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for the Affordable Heating and Cooling Innovation Hub (i-Hub) was announced last week.

Integrated Design Studios logo

The i-Hub is an initiative by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating  (AIRAH) that will focus on reducing heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) carbon emissions in the built environment.

The Melbourne School of Design (Dominik HolzerBrendon McNiven Donald Bates) is working jointly with the Melbourne School of Engineering (Lu Aye and Tuan Ngo) to lead the delivery of a programme of Integrated Design Studios (IDS’s) that will commence semester 1, 2020.

The IDS’s will include architecture and engineering students supported by industry and academia in a collaborative design studio scenario providing a case study with which to examine integrated design processes.  The studios will have a focus on renewables and include clients with real projects.

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration are notoriously energy-intensive, consuming a considerable percentage of Australia’s electricity and producing substantial emissions. The potential cost savings and reduced environmental impact to be gained from improving performance is significant.

The i-Hub Integrated Design Studio (IDS), activity aims to change the way we design buildings by bringing architectural and engineering integration to the forefront of design, with the aim of designing zero-energy buildings.

Alongside the Integrated Design Studios, iHub will focus on the Living Laboratories project, which aims to test and validate innovative technologies in real-life building applications, and the Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House project which will deliver an open data platform for sharing data relating to the operation of HVAC&R and renewable energy equipment.

“The Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling (i-Hub) is designed to facilitate the HVAC&R’s industry’s transition to a low-emissions future, stimulate jobs growth, and showcase HVAC&R innovation in buildings,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson.

“The objective of i-Hub is to support the broader HVAC&R industry with knowledge dissemination, skills development and capacity building. By facilitating a collaborative approach to innovation, i-Hub brings together leading universities, researchers, consultants, building owners and equipment manufacturers to create a connected research and development community in Australia.”

iHub will be led by AIRAH in conjunction with CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong.

In total, this project will deliver a multi-dimensional pilot demonstration program and business case evaluation, for guiding National Electricity Market (NEM) planners on where to find and how to implement HVAC&R demand response across the National Electricity Market, and unlocking hundreds of megawatts of previously untapped flexible load.

i-Hub is open to applications from industry participants who have suitable demonstration projects that require co-funding. Proposals will be considered under one of three activity streams: Living Laboratories, Integrated Design Studios and a Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House.

For further information or to submit a proposal for funding, visit

This project received funding from ARENA as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program.

The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the Australian Government, and the Australian Government does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein.