Currently, HVAC systems attribute to 40% of the overall energy consumption. To put things in perspective, this could account to 10 to 20% of energy consumed by developed countries. Subsequently, such large energy consumption values have a deteriorating impact as building owners and tenants are forced to pay more for their heating or cooling applications. Considering the increased focus on climate change driven by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the HVAC industry is currently witnessing a paradigm shift towards energy efficient alternatives to improve the energy and cost efficiency of traditional systems. Strong government interventions and
energy standards have further propelled HVAC companies to explore sustainable innovations that can address current
HVAC requirements.

Intelligent technology that promotes energy efficiency

India’s smart cities have provided additional impetus to the HVAC industry to provide sustainable and affordable solutions.

  • Adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies: Smart buildings play a central element and this has paved the way for the integration of digitalization and relevant Industry 4.0 technologies in the HVAC industry. This is expected to redefine the next generation of HVAC systems and augment its existing applications. Smart HVAC solutions will be able to substantially improve energy efficiency while providing cost savings to the end-user. This system will further
    be able to improve agility and respond to dynamic customer requirements.
  • Role of intelligent pumps: Pumps are at the heart of any HVAC system and are instrumental in driving efficiency. Intelligent and energy efficient solutions can replace traditional counterparts and increase energy savings. Example: Grundfos’ pumps are equipped with permanent magnet motor having integrated frequency converter and controller, that helps adjust speed and flow on the basis of its requirements. Typically, in buildings, uncontrolled excessive consumption of energy during periods of low HVAC requirements are the central reason for an expensive electricity bill. Intelligent pumps will be able to optimize energy utilization on a need basis. They can also operate for long periods of time with minimal manual intervention or downtime. Additionally, the pumps are also equipped with sensors to provide actionable insights on consumption patterns and provide predictive maintenance capabilities.
  • Sensor based technology: Smart sensors integrated with intelligent pump solutions can be used in buildings to proactively analyze the data generated from the HVAC system. This can be later used to identify and share insights on the functionality of the system to the customer or a HVAC technician. For example, sensors can be used to identify specific zones in a building that are more prone to high temperature or specific floors that would need additional HVAC support. This will help the system address these requirements specifically instead of increasing heating or cooling for the entire building. Sensors are also being used to detect potential areas of failure in the system. This can be done by monitoring processes and sending relevant alerts on a real time basis. The predictive maintenance capabilities enables a planned maintenance and reduces any unexpected surges or costs. Additionally, there are various other sensors embedded in smart buildings to optimize the performance of its HVAC system. For example, temperature sensors can be used to automatically assess and control indoor temperatures.
  • Cooling towers to optimize air conditioning: These towers are used to remove excess heat from an air conditioning system if the heat cannot be utilized elsewhere. This is a reliable method of disposing low-grade heat without impacting the HVAC system. Intelligent pumps play an important role in fueling these processes. The usage of best practices in the tower’s operations will ensure that they remain energy efficient and do not further contribute to the energy consumption. Cooling towers also reduces the pressure on the HVAC system of a building to some extent. They are typically present in large commercial buildings such as hospitals and airports, and industries.
  • Automating HVAC processes: With smart buildings expected to be the norm in the future, automated processes are going to be imminent. This will minimize the need for human intervention to operate HVAC systems and enable remote monitoring of processes. An automated HVAC system will be able to dynamically respond to requirements and adjust temperatures. It also provides significant cost savings throughout its lifecycle. Such innovative solutions are going to be key attractions of buildings in the next few years.

It is also crucial to increase awareness among end users on the importance of energy efficient solutions and their benefits. Awareness levels will directly correspond to the overall rate of adoption. Energy audits can also be conducted in individual buildings to understand their energy requirements and suggest relevant technologies that can address its issues effectively.

Innovations in HVAC

Technological advancements in the HVAC industry will ensure that they can be more sustainable and efficient. Companies are driving their innovation processes to make an end-to-end sustainable HVAC system the new reality. This is expected to have a significant impact on the energy efficiency provided by the HVAC system and subsequently have a positive impact on the environment.

Additionally, India will also benefit from solar driven HVAC systems.  It can potentially reduce energy consumption by 30 to 65% by improving performance and the scalability of the system while reducing the overall carbon footprint. This would require continuous support from the government and other stakeholders in terms of policies and infrastructure guidelines to make this a mainstay in buildings across the country.

Gaurav Mathur,
Head, Business Development,
(Building Services), Grundfos India.

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