As we enter into another year after the outbreak of pandemic, we have faced many challenges and learnt a lot of lessons on resilience that is essential to build a robust future. It was well noticed that consumption of resources and energy did not reduce during the pandemic, but organizations around the world have started becoming more responsible and conscious towards the realities of climate change. Being one of the most populous countries in the world, India alone contributed to 15% of global cooling equipment purchases in 2019. When we evaluate priorities of the future buildings, we need to ensure that they are sustainable as well as focus on providing a healthy and safe space for its inhabitants. This emphasis on sustainability in buildings, also majorly extends to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry, which consumes a huge percentage of the total power consumed.

In developing countries, HVAC systems consume about 20% of the total energy consumption. Exhausting over 40% of a building’s total energy consumption, HVAC systems emit 34.7 mega tonnes of carbon emissions annually, which are high environment pollutants. Realizing this, organizations are working towards implementing various advanced technologies as an instrument to develop HVAC systems that are more energy efficient and green. This includes designing pump systems with digital technologies to assure energy conservation in HVAC systems.

Pumps are no longer manual – digitalized solutions for HVAC systems

Digitalization of pumps has increased in the water management sector with the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, data analytics and artificial intelligence to provide faster and more intelligent water systems. Digital pumps bring several conveniences to a user as opposed to traditional pumps. With intelligent pumps, it is possible to conduct real-time monitoring of HVAC systems which help in keeping users updated on a pump’s status and identify any faults in the equipment or functioning. HVAC systems equipped with digital pumps utilize data to perform remote diagnosis. Real-time and remote monitoring also provides more accurate and immediate rectification of failures. By reducing the total downtime of the system, digital pumps are therefore way easier to manage and cost effective in the longer run.

With advanced data analytics, pumps can now collect, and access information overtime to perform preventive maintenance. Any possible errors or failures in the system can be determined in advance and looked after with the available data that estimates the pump’s future functioning. This form of prediction can help reduce human intervention and improve the pump’s overall lifespan. Furthermore, an automated pump reduces the need to manually oversee a HVAC system’s operation.

For these and many other advantages, digitalized pumps are overtaking traditional pumps in the HVAC industry. However, the level of advancement of a pump would not help improve a HVAC system’s performance, if the pump is not rightly sized with the overall system. An Energy Check is a solution that can support not only in observing a pump’s energy efficiency but also in identifying, if the existing pump and its size are compatible with the water system of a building. For example, the Grundfos Energy Check provides on-site analysis of pump systems to study their behavior.

Data of the pump’s activity is retrieved from the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system or from on-site measurements, and present a report with suggestions on how the pumps can be adapted to be more energy efficient for a building or to the specific application. These emerging solutions are displaying impressive and remarkable results in the HVAC industry.

For instance, in Dubai, three buildings decided to go for an energy check after recording high electricity bills. For a country like Dubai, which experiences summer heat throughout the year, HVAC equipment is utilized on a larger scale to beat the heat. The Energy Check revealed that the HVAC systems of the buildings were equipped with pumps that are oversized. Additionally, these pumps were not balanced accurately in their constant, primary chiller systems and were faulty in operation. With the discovery made by Energy Check, the user was able to identify suitable pumps required for the buildings and accordingly made a switch to a much more adaptable and efficient pump systems. The replacement of pumps led to a reduction in the pumps’ power consumption by 46% in one of the towers and 57% in another. Installing the right pump can go a long way in conserving energy while improving the functioning of a HVAC system. In one of the buildings, the updated pumps function on 7-10 kW/h, as opposed to the 36 kW/h consumed by the replaced pumps. The HVAC systems of the three buildings as a whole, continue to save up to 25% of electricity. Therefore, HVAC systems have a huge potential to become more energy efficient. This is reflected from a mere pump swap that resulted in conserving energy at such an impactful level.

Emerging trends in HVAC to conserve energy

Updating the current HVAC systems with latest pumps depending on the building’s necessity plays a huge role in making the system more sustainable. With the growing demand for HVAC systems to accommodate more buildings, there is a possibility of users being in a dilemma to choose between energy conservation and business growth. The advancement of pump systems can help resolve this by striking a balance between the need to stay sustainable and meeting the growing consumer needs.

Additionally, installing intelligent pump solutions in buildings can lead to water conservation. A great example for this is the Grundfos iSOLUTIONS with the CRE pumps in the CII’s Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Center (CII Godrej GBC) in Hyderabad. As the first LEED platinum rated building in India, CII Godrej GBC decided to install pumps that are more friendly with the environment and turned to the CRE pumps, which are primarily used in commercial air conditioning and district cooling. This change in the building’s air conditioning system resulted in 75% water efficiency. The building also witnessed a reduction of energy consumption by 50%.

Conventional HVAC systems are known for being large in size, occupying more space. However, modern HVAC systems are simplified in design, allowing them to operate with minimal equipment, thereby saving space as well as costs and energy. This helps to conserve energy that usually would be consumed by several devices of the system. Solutions like these prove to be efficient in commercial buildings where the HVAC systems are usually cumbersome. The Midea Marriott Hotel in Shunde, China, availed similar services to reduce the energy consumption by half. Despite the hotel accommodating 258 rooms across 28 floors, it functions on just two HVAC technical rooms, two rooms for water boosting and one boiler room. Both the hot as well as cold water booster systems were arranged to work out of a single set, therefore using only half the energy required. Moreover, this arrangement by Grundfos eliminated issues such as high noise and electricity costs which can incur due to a massive HVAC setup.

HVAC in the days to come

The aftermath of the pandemic has resulted in increased conversations around sustainability and energy conservation. The industry is transitioning to innovate solutions which can help tackle the energy consumption rise post COVID-19. World economies are building their strategies around sustainability in order to bring focus on energy conservation. Digitalization can be a major driver in helping companies achieve this. Through consistent and conscious efforts in making solutions more eco-friendly and energy-saving, the post-COVID era can witness a green transformation.

Looking at the active and continuous efforts of companies to develop more energy efficient and future-proof HVAC systems, it is safe to assume that the future can be built to be more sustainable. The deliberate attempts companies are making to invest into sustainable HVAC systems will also encourage such technologies to further develop. The scope to propel a sustainable movement within the HVAC industry is now more possible than ever, and the future only looks green.

Ajit Jainath Singh, Area Sales Director – Commercial Building Services, INDO and Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Grundfos

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