A heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer designs, installs, and maintains heating, ventilation, and air conditioning engineering systems in buildings. These can include HVAC systems in offices, stores, factories, transportation facilities such as airports and train stations, schools, hospitals, and homes.
HVAC engineers design HVAC systems that meet the specific requirements of the building type. This includes calculating heat load and airflow requirements, selecting appropriate equipment and components, and designing ductwork and piping systems. They must select appropriate equipment such as boilers, chillers, air handlers, and other components for those particular HVAC systems. They do this by evaluating equipment specifications, performance, and efficiency, and making recommendations based on the needs and budget available.
HVAC engineers also oversee the installation of HVAC systems to ensure that they are installed according to design specifications, code requirements, and industry standards. They work with contractors, technicians, and other professionals to ensure that the installation is done correctly. After installation, HVAC engineers perform testing and commissioning to ensure that the system is operating correctly and efficiently. They perform functional tests, airflow tests, and other measurements to verify that the system is performing according to design specifications.
HVAC engineers are furthermore responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting HVAC systems. They perform regular maintenance to ensure that the system is operating efficiently and identify and troubleshoot issues that arise, such as equipment failures, refrigerant leaks, or airflow problems.
In designing and maintaining HVAC systems that are energy-efficient and cost-effective, they must be aware of energy-saving measures too. Such measures include upgrading equipment, optimizing system controls, or implementing renewable energy systems.
With the continued growth in building worldwide, HVAC engineers are always in demand. They are typically employed by engineering, construction and real estate companies, or other service-providing companies who offer HVAC solutions.
Common HVAC engineer responsibilities
An HVAC engineer is responsible for performing a range of tasks. Responsibilities may include:
- Conducting research on new technologies to develop efficient HVAC designs;
- Providing technical support to other engineers on projects or issues related to HVAC;
- Calculating, designing, constructing, and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning for residential, public, and commercial buildings;
- Analyzing building plans to determine the HVAC unit number for each building type and room or floor of the building;
- Evaluating customer needs and recommending solutions in line with them;
- Determining the best place for installing HVAC equipment in a building;
- Coordinating with contractors to ensure new installations meet building codes and regulations on time;
- Working with contractors to ensure existing HVAC systems are working properly;
- Inspecting chillers, boilers, air handling units, and refrigeration equipment;
- Traveling to sites to design, install, maintain HVAC systems;
- Ensuring the safety of everyone at all times.
Qualifications for HVAC engineers
HVAC engineers should possess at least a Bachelor's degree in HVAC Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or a related field. In some countries, a professional certification may be required.
Additional supporting skills and experience include:
- Some prior experience with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, building design, or mechanical-electrical systems, including from an internship or apprenticeship is recommended;
- Strong understanding of buildings and construction;
- Ability to use diverse tools and machines;
- Strong team collaboration and customer service skills;
- Logical thinking skills and attention to detail.