3 ways HVAC joins the fight against climate change

Global HVAC Report 2019 | Market trends

Sustainability, net zero and climate change are all buzzwords and phrases currently at the top of the agenda of news outlets, activists and politicians globally. Reducing energy consumption is therefore a key topic for businesses and consumers alike. In this article we take a look into three ways that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and technology can have a favorable impact on the world’s energy usage.

Given that heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting (HVACL) is a key function of modern buildings and accounts for ca. 60–80% of a building’s total energy costs, the use of energyefficient HVACL systems can have a significant impact on the fight against climate change. We have summarized below three key ways that this can be achieved. Beyond their environmental impact the solutions also provide cost savings and improvements in public health, and enhance a firm's green credentials and reputation.

1. Natural ventilation

In layman’s terms, natural ventilation is the process of allowing fresh, outdoor air to flow into buildings, helping to remove warm and dirty air—although the application of this process is much more complicated. However, the energysaving benefits are significant; a building with natural ventilation is reported to consume less than half the energy of an air-conditioned and mechanically ventilated space. The following are some of the ways in which energy is saved:

  • The lack of a mechanically driven fan means there is no use of fossil-fuelled energy; instead the process utilizes wind power and the thermal rise of warm air.
  • Buildings with natural ventilation typically require the depth of the floor plate to be reduced, which in turn leads to an increase in the opportunity for better use of natural lighting—a further energy saving.
  • There are also behavioral and wellness benefits to using natural ventilation to lower energy usage. People within naturally ventilated buildings are more accepting of temperature fluctuations, and thus, in winter, the heating can be set lower and the use of air conditioning can be reduced in summer.

Beyond energy usage reductions there are also other benefits to using natural ventilation, including:

  • Lowered capital expenditure;
  • Reduction in ongoing maintenance costs; and
  • Improved air quality.
Smart HVAC systems require a multitude of sensors, which monitor and control a building’s heating. Software then interprets the data using complex algorithms and can reduce energy consumption in unoccupied areas of a building, detect and diagnose faults in advance, and flex usage during times of peak energy demand. 

2. Smart HVAC Systems

The American Council for an EnergyEfficient Economy (ACEEE) released a report entitled “Smart Buildings: A Deeper Dive into Market Segments,” which looked at the energy systems used within commercial buildings and reported that:

  • Occupancy-based wireless thermostats can help save 5–10% in HVAC energy costs.
  • Advanced rooftop unit controls can help save 20–40% in HVAC energy.
  • Smart solar film can help reduce cooling load by 10–20%.

3. Infrared heating

Infrared heating systems are vastly different to conventional heating. While conventional heating creates heat around the immediate area and requires circulation to heat the room, infrared heating uses invisible infrared beams that hit an object and warm it up at a molecular level—in much the same way that the sun works and how human bodies radiate themselves. Infrared heating can help reduce energy consumption, due to the fact that it warms objects and people directly. This, in turn, means the same level of heat comfort can be realized at a lower temperature and thus less energy is used. Case studies have shown that the reduction in power usage compared with conventional heating methods can be up to 60% when heating to the same comfort levels. Other benefits of infrared heating include less moisture and thus less dampness, a decrease in the spread of dust and germs, and increased blood circulation.

Download Global HVAC Report 2019

For more expert commentary in the HVAC sector, download the full report (pdf) that includes a breakdown of the total energy costs of commercial buildings and the forecasted growth of the global HVAC market, currently worth US$180bn.

Contact us

Contact our global HVAC specialists or your local contact Frederik van der Schoot from Oaklins' team in Amsterdam.

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Philip Barker London, United Kingdom
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Davide Eugenio Milano Turin, Italy
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Mark filippell 0
Mark A. Filippell Cleveland, United States
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Frederik van der Schoot Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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