Need to make HVAC more sustainable

Sanjay Sudhakaran, Vice President, Digital Energy, Schneider Electric-India sheds light on various intricacies of HVAC systems in green buildings and explores how going green makes business sense in an e-mail interaction with Cooling India.

How important is HVAC systems for green buildings?
The importance of an HVAC system in commercial and residential buildings cannot be over emphasized. The fact remains that controlled temperature and controlled air quality is good for the body, and in commercial buildings, it helps improve productivity. A good ventilation system helps to reduce the number of pollutants, bacteria and odour in a facility.
Historically, green construction has been focused primarily on energy efficiency and waste reduction. Today, this concept has expanded to reflect a building’s sustainability, as well as its impact on improved indoor air quality, occupants’ health, comfort and productivity, and reduced embodied energy and water footprint besides lower operations and energy maintenance costs.

Businesses today are willing to spend a large portion of their annual operating expenses on heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) because it helps to create comfortable work environments which are conducive to higher employee productivity. Hence, HVAC is an important aspect of consideration in green buildings.

What is the economics of eco-friendly HVAC system in green buildings?
Sustainability is the key to adoption of green buildings. Sustainability in HVAC systems is no longer a buzz word. It is a mantra that pays back in the medium term so sustainability is profitable. Through the use of green refrigerants, more efficient mechanical components, advanced intelligent products and analytic sustainable optimum comfort is delivered and it brings down the overall energy costs through a predictive methodology.

What measures does one need, to bring maximum efficiency in operations of HVAC systems in green buildings?

With advancements in the areas of IoT, there has been significant evolution in the sphere of ‘Intelligent Buildings’. Using modern sensors large amounts of data is captured every day. With the use of analytics, it is possible to predict load patterns, optimise usage of energy, enhance quality of power, predict the health of electrical and mechanical equipment and facilitate facility managers to enhance the user experience and bring down energy and maintenance costs. Adoption of these technological advancements is critical to maximise efficiency.

According to you, how going green makes business sense?

The efficiency of the appliances and equipment used in homes and businesses has increased greatly over the past three decades. However, there is still much that can be done to reduce the amount and slow the growth of energy consumption in residential and commercial buildings.

Many advanced technologies under development and likely to become commercially available within the next decade— including LED lamps, innovative window systems, new types of cooling systems, and power-saving electronic devices—will further increase the energy-savings potential in buildings. In addition, new homes and commercial buildings with relatively low overall energy use have been demonstrated throughout the country. With appropriate policies and programmes, they could become the norm in new construction.

Despite substantial barriers to widespread energy efficiency improvements in buildings, a number of countervailing factors could drive increased energy efficiency, including rising energy prices, growing concern about global climate change and the resulting willingness of consumers and businesses to take action to reduce emissions, a movement towards green buildings, and growing recognition of the significant non energy benefits offered by energy efficiency measures.

What is your take on growing demand on sustainable HVAC in green building?
In a tropical country like India and the current penetration levels of HVAC adoption, there is a huge runaway for growth coupled with economic growth and urbanisation. On the other hand, HVAC systems will continue to be the single most critical factor contributing to environmental concerns due to its energy requirements and refrigerant properties. There is no option but to make HVAC more and more sustainable to balance demand and toll on nature.