With the continued efforts of governments around the world to reduce carbon emissions and a greater focus on sustainability, it is vital that the HVAC industry do its part in becoming more environmentally responsible. And while steps have been taken to become more sustainable, much remains to be done to ensure that many of the goals set are achievable.
Industrial heating in both large and small buildings accounts for about two-thirds of industrial energy demand and about one-fifth of global energy consumption. Figures like these illustrate the need to have efficient and environmentally friendly HVAC equipment to take important steps towards reducing the contribution these systems make to our carbon footprint.
High Energy Consumption in the Construction Sector
The report by the International Environment Agency (IEA) showed that the buildings and construction industries together are responsible for 30% of global energy consumption and about 40% of carbon emissions. This is an indication of the steps the industry needs to take to play its role in a more environmentally friendly society, some of which are already underway.
While imagining what a post-COVID world might look like, businesses and governments continue to put sustainability and lower carbon emissions at the forefront of their planning, and the HVAC industry is certainly no exception. But because change in the industry is a daunting prospect, decision makers often don’t know where to start.
Using Intelligent Technology in HVAC Systems
With the continued growth and greater diffusion of smart technologies in the HVAC industry, systems have become more efficient. Smart HVAC uses sensors that integrate with a building’s automation system. These sensors then collect information about conditions throughout the building.
It is important that any device in the use of HVAC does not cause a drastic increase in emissions production. This is one of the areas where smart systems will become critical. Many scientists are clear in their thinking that heat waves are causing more emissions and expect temperature records in Europe to break more regularly, so sites will need to be equipped to deal with these conditions.
Regulation of Temperature with Handheld Devices
As wireless systems have become much more common now, temperatures can be easily controlled with hand-held devices. With these new technologies, those who manage systems can also benefit from remote monitoring and maintenance, reducing the need to travel to the field for another environmental incentive.
To accompany smart systems, equipment such as smart thermostats can be installed to maximize HVAC efficiency. Other smart systems available to businesses include smart ovens and air conditioning units that are much easier to operate than their traditional counterparts.
Reducing Unnecessary Ventilation
As global temperatures continue to rise, air conditioning use has increased, contributing to greater energy use. A large amount of unnecessary emissions are generated due to unnecessary ventilation, resulting in heat loss and overall energy wastage.
Recirculating air is traditionally a lower energy cost method of conserving heat and keeping emissions low, but we must be mindful of the risks associated with recirculated air. With heat recovery ventilation, which both eliminates the risk of disease spread and improves energy consumption, the risk of disease in circulation is somewhat eliminated.
Efficiency Performance of New Air Conditioning Units
Air conditioning units, in particular, account for 10% of a building’s electricity consumption, so it’s important to keep in mind ways to avoid the emissions this creates. Global energy demand for air conditioning units is expected to triple by 2050 as temperatures continue to rise from year to year.
The efficiency performance of new air conditioning units will be key when it comes to ensuring that increased demand does not cause more emissions. Another issue that suppliers and manufacturers need to address is the different consumption rates of AC units in different countries; Units sold in Japan and the EU are typically more efficient than those found in China and the US.
Modular HVACs have also become increasingly popular in recent years. Modular HVACs are responsible for heating, cooling and distributing air in an entire building, with their growing popularity largely due to higher levels of energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, flexibility, and significant ease of installation and maintenance.
Modular HVACs are particularly adaptable for workspaces and allow work to be done on systems without disturbing the workforce, which is often achieved primarily through roof placement. Commercial workspaces are larger and often require different needs than residential properties. It can address a wide range of specific requirements of work and commercial spaces.
As we strive for lower carbon emissions, this trend looks set to continue and become a key area in reducing the emissions traditionally produced by HVACs.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
As we continue to move towards a more environmentally conscious society than ever before, it will be crucial for companies, governments and the public to consider ways to reduce carbon emissions. Smart technologies will certainly be at the forefront of this, eliminating many unnecessary journeys and making it easier for industries to change settings and fix problems remotely.
Higher education levels will help equip us with the tools to make sure we are in the best position to reduce emissions and ultimately be more sustainable.
While the steps outlined above show some progress and actions we can take, there is much more we can do as an industry to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of HVAC, and once we move beyond the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will certainly happen.