Carel launches new iJM solution
BRUGINE, Padua, Italy, 22 September 2021: Carel launched a new iJM solution, backed by a strategic partnership with Vision IoT platform for connecting field assets, the company said through a Press release. Describing iJM as a dedicated product line for refrigerated merchandisers, Carel said the launch was against the backdrop of an increase in demand in the beverage cooler market for solutions that reduce environmental impact by cutting energy consumption and emissions, and for those that feature connectivity options to give beverage companies better intelligence on the sales performance and user habits of their merchandisers in the field.
Carel said it has extensive experience in this sector and continuously invests in new technologies to satisfy the trends. iJM, it added, is the latest result of these investments.
iJM, the company said, includes cutting-edge options for energy efficiency, such as direct control of variable speed compressors, and a completely new flat and frameless display, with various cosmetic customisation options, available according to the customer’s brand. Owing to its connectivity options (NFC, Bluetooth and Beacon), iJM is ready to connect to the Vision IoT cloud platform, so as to offer customers analytics to improve retail management, Carel said.
Vision IoT, Carel said, is a long-standing industry leader in IoT solutions for connected beverage coolers, with more than 1.7 million active units on its Harbor Cloud Platform. Carel and Vision IoT have defined an end-to-end seamless offering that will help Carel’s global beverage customers reduce asset loss, improve utilisation and increase sales, Carel said.
The new feature will allow bottlers to equip their merchandisers with the latest generation electronic controllers for energy-efficient management of their units, as well as to monitor them remotely, analyse their profitability and optimise operation through corrective actions in the field, Carel said.
The combined Carel, Vision IoT solution will provide key insights to bottlers, who will be able to gain competitive advantages at the point of sale, Carel said. For bottlers, being able to better understand the performance of their different assets in a retail environment allows them to take actions to improve important KPIs, such as planogram compliance and sales, reduce asset downtime and optimise asset locations within a store.
“CAREL has a strong presence in the beverage cooler market around the world,” said Giovanni Tonin, Group Marketing Manager – Food Service, Carel. “This partnership combines our quality and experience in control solutions with Vision IoT, a vertical, effective cloud platform for beverage coolers.”
Austin Groves, CEO, Vision IoT, said: “We are proud to have been selected as the platform partner of choice by Carel. Our device-agnostic platform is helping more and more global CPG brands gain mission-critical insights to their in-store operations. The scalability and ability to deliver insights directly to the representatives solving these issues are what’s enabling the continued success of our clients and partners.”
ASHRAE announces call for abstracts for 2022 Annual Conference
ATLANTA, Georgia, 16 August 2021: ASHRAE announced it is accepting abstracts for the 2022 ASHRAE Annual Conference, from June 25 to 29, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
According to ASHRAE, the conference will address the changes to buildings created by the pandemic and will present papers and programs that are pertinent to the future of the built-environment.
“As we move into 2022 and face climate extremes and natural disasters along with the pandemic, buildings continue to be critical to our everyday lives,” said Kristen Cetin, Conference Chair. “These commercial, industrial and residential buildings, in particular, face an increasingly complex set of competing priorities to balance, as well as an increasing number of technologies and solutions to use and implement. The 2022 ASHRAE Annual Conference focuses on such diverse priorities and methods to address them, while considering the dynamic nature of such priorities over time.”
According to ASHRAE, the conference’s technical program comprises eight tracks:
The “Buildings in the Aftermath of COVID-19” track highlights the significant impacts on how buildings are used, the priorities associated with building operations to ensure healthy environments for occupants, and the transition to design and operation in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The “Connected Buildings, Connected Communities” track focuses on advanced smart building technologies and renewable energy resources, and the coordinated efforts in accomplishing improved building performance and demand flexibility.
The “IAQ, Energy Use, Comfort and Health of Sustainable Buildings” track features the following topics, and how they interact and impact one another: Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), energy use and efficiency, occupant comfort and health, sustainability goals and owner/operator priorities.
The “Cold Climate Building System Design, Operation and Resilience” track covers efforts and topics specifically focused on buildings, building systems and equipment in cold, arctic and sub-arctic climates. The track will also cover specific considerations for the building envelope and HVAC&R systems, and the resulting thermal and hygrothermal performance.
The “Professional Development” track will cover all aspects of business outside of engineering/technical applications and lends itself to interactive session types, such as workshops and forums.
The “HVAC&R Systems and Equipment” track will focus on the development of new systems and equipment, improvements to existing systems and equipment and the proper application and operation of systems and equipment.
The “Fundamentals and Applications” track will provide opportunities for papers of varying levels across a large topic base. Concepts, design elements and shared experiences for theoretical and applied concepts of HVAC&R design are included.
Finally, the “Research Summit” features active research, and the exchange of research findings, critical to the development of the HVAC&R industry and built environment. The track includes a partnership with ASHRAE’s archival journal, Science and Technology for the Built Environment.
ASHRAE said that abstracts – 400 words or less – are due on September 20, 2021. If accepted, final conference papers (8-page maximum) are due on December 1, 2021, it added.
In addition, it said, technical papers – complete 30-page maximum papers published in ASHRAE Transactions – are also due September 20, 2021, and considered for Science and Technology for the Built Environment.
ASHRAE urged those interested in submitting to visit ashrae.org/2022Annual for more information on the call for abstracts and the 2022 ASHRAE Annual Conference.
Ziehl-Abegg invests €36 mn in expanding its facilities
KÜNZELSAU, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 4 August 2021: “The world’s markets will continue to need high-quality electric motors and fans in the future,” said Peter Fenkl, CEO, Ziehl-Abegg, explaining why the company invested €16 million euros in the expansion of its production buildings at the Kupferzell site in the middle of the pandemic. This, he added, will be followed by a further €20 million for machinery. Dr Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economic Affairs, Baden-Württemberg, added: “With the new building, the company is further expanding its high degree of vertical manufacture and the resilience of the supply chains here at the site, whilst also securing valuable jobs both within and beyond the region.”
Peter Fenkl shows Dr Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut how fans for data centres and hospitals are assembled
Fenkl described how, in the early summer of 2020, many economic decision-makers were in shock due to the pandemic. “No-one knew what was coming next – and that’s when we started our current construction project,” he recalled. “The year 2020 resembled a rollercoaster ride – rapidly alternating between border closures, interruptions to material supplies, falling sales and rising orders. Thanks to the commitment of each and every one of the employees, the company still succeeded in posting an increase in sales at the end of the year – followed by an order intake that exceeded all previous records.”
Referring to the new building, he said, “So we’re now glad that we’ve already created more space for rapid growth.” New machines and systems that had already been ordered in spring 2020, will be arriving on a weekly basis, he said, adding that the building is also intended to create an additional 180 jobs.
The new building will result in an additional 8,700 square metres for manufacturing state-of-the-art generation of energy-efficient electric motors, the company said. “The durable and efficient electric motor has been our core area of expertise for more than 100 years,” Fenkl said, adding that the company is a technology leader in the design of fans based on the concept of biomimetics. “However, since many geometries offering perfect aerodynamics cannot be implemented in steel or aluminum, we are expanding the area of composite materials,” he said. “It is essential for us to have more space for additional injection-moulding machines for composite materials.”
Ziehl-Abegg, he said, is expanding its production facilities worldwide or optimising existing plants – in Schöntal-Bieringen, where the aluminium casting operation is based, and in America and Asia. “Corona,” he said, “has shown that we have to consider very carefully how we can design our production facilities in a way that enables us to satisfy the needs of the market to optimum effect.”
AMCA introduces tools to aid transition to Fan Energy Index
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Illinois, 2 August 2021: AMCA International introduced tools to aid transition to the Fan Energy Index. The body did so against the backdrop of recent developments related to energy efficiency in the United States.
On July 28, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued determinations that the 2019 edition of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and the 2021 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) “will achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings subject to the code” and “will improve energy efficiency in residential buildings,” respectively. Upon publication of these affirmative determinations, the DOE said, states in the country must review and certify their building codes relative to ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2019 and the 2021 IECC.
As states begin to examine and update their energy codes, some are adopting an earlier edition of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 (2016 or 2013) or the IECC (2018 or 2015), AMCA said. In so doing, they are prolonging the use of fan efficiency grade (FEG) as the metric for efficiency provisions for commercial and industrial fans and blowers, AMCA said. FEG, which the DOE concluded in an as-yet-unfinished rulemaking is not an appropriate metric for a federal appliance/equipment regulation, was replaced by Fan Energy Index (FEI) for ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2019 and the 2021 IECC, AMCA said, adding that it advises states adopting earlier editions of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 and the IECC to “leapfrog” the outdated FEG metric to take advantage of the energy-saving, compliance-easing FEI.
For example, Florida, which on December 31 became the first state to adopt FEI when the seventh (2020) edition of Florida Building Code: Energy Conservation was published, adopted the 2018 IECC, but the 2021 IECC fan-efficiency provision, AMCA pointed out.
“Florida has set the example of how to leapfrog model-energy-code provisions to avoid prolonging the use of an outdated metric,” Aaron Gunzner, Senior Manager, Advocacy, AMCA International, said. “To help other states achieve the goal of phasing in the new FEI metric, AMCA International has, with permission from ASHRAE and the International Code Council, developed templates with exact strike-out/underline language.”
Additionally, to describe the rationale for and the benefits of changing metrics, AMCA said it recently updated its Advocacy Brief: New Fan Energy Index (FEI) Metric and Scope for Energy Codes, a document for code officials and others considering proposals to transition from FEG to FEI.
Formalized in ANSI/AMCA Standard 208-18, Calculation of the Fan Energy Index, FEI considers the effects of motors and drives, not just fans, and aids the right-sizing of fan systems for the conditions they will operate in, AMCA said. In addition to ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2019 and the 2021 IECC, it added, FEI has replaced FEG in:
- 2021 International Green Construction Code (IgCC)
- ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/USGBC/IES 189.1-2020, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
AMCA recommended visiting www.amca.org/FEI, to download the templates and to view Advocacy Brief: New Fan Energy Index (FEI) Metric and Scope for Energy Codes. The microsite, AMCA said, additionally includes links to related codes and standards, technical articles and white papers, webinar recordings, and presentations.
Chillventa launches new Web site
Nuremberg, Germany, 2 August 2021: Following the Chillventa eSpecial 2020, and after four years without an in-person gathering, the exhibition for refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat pump technology will run from October 11 to 13 at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg, the organisers said.
The Chillventa CONGRESS, will take place on October 10, the organisers said, adding that exhibitors can register for the event immediately. The organisers said they have launched a new Web site, which offers an improved user experience and provides even more focused information.
Chillventa, the organisers said, will offer opportunities for networking in person and view innovations through live demonstrations. The planned trade fora, Chillventa CONGRESS and supporting programme will spotlight issues like energy performance, contributing to the energy revolution, combined cooling and heating and the cooling of data centres, the organisers said. The event will also look at topics like the circular economy and the cold chain in the pharmaceutical sector.
“We are preparing to finally see our exhibition halls back in action again and to welcoming the international refrigeration, AC, ventilation and heat pump community in person to Nuremberg,” said Daniela Heinkel, Director of Chillventa at NürnbergMesse. “We are sure that the kind of platform offered by Chillventa is now more in demand than ever and are confident that it will build on its successful 2018 round.”
Smart Farnek launches HITEK solution 4.0
DUBAI, UAE, 11 July 2021: UAE-based smart and green facilities management (FM) company, Farnek, today unveiled its new 24/7 command and control room, located in Farnek Village, the company’s new staff accommodation centre in Jebel Ali.
L-R: Markus Oberlin; Khaldun Aburok, Director of Business Development, Farnek; Javeria Aijaz; and H.E. Frank Eggmann
Making the announcement through a Press release, Farnek said that through its 5G and Wi-Fi 6-enabled, operational ‘nerve centre’, it will be able to take advantage of increased bandwidth, ultra-low latency and enhanced security, to connect assets from multiple sites, so that they can be centrally monitored and managed.
This, Farnek said, will allow it to rollout connected and transformative applications of technology that not only uplift the face of FM digitalisation but also offer enhanced efficiency. This is achieved through the concept of a digitally connected workforce and customers, to its in-house stream of technically advanced and cost-effective solutions, utilising the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technologies, amongst others, the company said.
Following a tour of Farnek Village and the inauguration of its command and control room, H.E. Frank Eggmann, Consul General of Switzerland to Dubai said: “I was particularly impressed with the innovative approach Farnek has taken by developing its own in-house ‘Swiss made’ technology. Equally impressive is the way this is being utilised, which will not only improve cost-efficiency but also has staff welfare and sustainability at its core. This is an excellent example of Swiss state-of-the-art technology at its very best.”
According to Farnek, beyond operational efficiencies and sustainability, its HITEK solution 4.0 will save its customers significant amounts of money. The company said it has estimated that it can save up to 17% in manpower costs after traditional FM operational management has been transferred to HITEK’s smart management.
In addition, through IoT sensors, there is also the massive benefit of predictive and proactive maintenance, which can reduce downtime and improve the lifecycle of assets, facilitating remote monitoring with a fully connected and mobile workforce, Farnek said.
Markus Oberlin, CEO, Farnek, said: “In the case of manhours, a centralised system can manage multiple sites, whereas operating a traditional Building Management System (BMS) could well require a series of operators in each building. In addition, they may not be experts in every aspect of facilities management and probably will not have the advantage of benchmarking property performance.”
So far, Farnek said, its in-house technology team has developed initiatives, such as a smart washroom, wearable technology, eProcurement, telematic solutions, facial recognition as well as benchmarking and forecasting software to make buildings more sustainable.
Oberlin said: “As the technical specifications of 5G continue to evolve and expand that will capture and encourage even more advanced IoT and AI applications, which could start to become a reality, next year. So, we want to be ready to capitalise on these market opportunities, just as soon as the technology and connectivity is available.
“It is certainly going to take remote FM work to a whole new elevated level, enabling technicians to carry out tasks in either virtual reality or augmented reality environments, which are absolutely ideal for training purposes as well.”
According to Farnek, standalone 5G deployment consists of user equipment – the RAN and NR interface – and the 5G core network, which relies on a service-based architecture framework with virtualised network functions. Network functions that usually operate on hardware, become virtualised and actually run as software, the company said.
Javeria Aijaz, Senior Director – Technology & Innovations, Farnek, said: “We have managed to develop our own 5G network infrastructure-based intelligent and connected platforms, which has its own cloud-native network core, which connects 5G New Radio (NR) technology, and non-standalone (NSA) infrastructures, which still partially rely on existing 4G LTE infrastructure.
“Until Etisalat and Du are able to build out the independent infrastructure needed for 5G, our approach uses a combination of 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), 5G NR interface, and existing LTE infrastructure and core network to provide a 5G-like experience.”
Eurovent, FAIAR sign MoU
BRUSSELS, BOGOTÁ, 23 June 2021: Eurovent and the Federation of Ibero-American Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Associations (FAIAR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, underlining their commitment to greater harmonisation and stronger ties between Europe and Latin America, Eurovent said through a Press release.
In the framework of the Memorandum, Eurovent said, the two organisations will collaborate on standards development, codes of good practice and networking events, among others. Eurovent and FAIAR will have their first high-level coordination meeting still this year to identify concrete opportunities for joint action, Eurovent said.
Raul Corredera Haener, President, Eurovent, said: “In order to raise and harmonise industry standards worldwide, Eurovent’s ambition is to strengthen its international partnerships with like-minded associations. FAIAR has proven to be such a partner, and we look forward to working together with our colleagues from Latin America much more closely in the future to bring new opportunities to our industry.”
Odete de Almeida, President, FAIAR, said: “To achieve FAIAR objectives, we understand the importance of integration of related associations of any territorial scope, in order to provide mutual collaboration and exchange experiences in the professional field, which benefit the partners.”
Eurovent said the two organisations have agreed to work together to promote energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, safe and reliable HVACR technologies based on common principles. The HVACR sector, it added, has an important role to play in the welfare of society and in the fight against climate change. The two regional associations, it further added, aim to avoid disjointed regional approaches to these questions, which would turn opportunities for growth and innovation into market barriers.
ASHRAE participates in High Performance Buildings Coalition Congressional Event
ATLANTA, Georgia, 9, June 2021: In recognition of High Performance Building Week, 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E Gulledge III, spoke on a panel, titled ‘Building Better: Congressional and Private Sector Efforts to Promote High Performance Buildings’. Congressman, Peter Welch (D-VT), Co-Chair, High Performance Buildings Caucus, and the High Performance Building Coalition organized the event. The Coalition comprises more than 200 manufacturers, trade associations and other stakeholders who support policies and legislation that advance the next generation of buildings.
Joining Gulledge on the panel were chief executives from the International Code Council (ICC), the Green Building Initiative (GBI) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAMPO), ASHRAE said. This was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Lakisha A Woods, CAE, President and CEO, National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).
In his remarks, Gulledge spoke from ASHRAE’s current Society theme, ‘The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0’, which focuses on reimaging the building industry, ASHRAE said.
“With the technological transformation of how we design, build, and operate buildings, the lines within the built environment including energy and infrastructure are increasingly blurred,” Gulledge said. “We must think about how existing buildings fit into this transformation. About half of the commercial buildings in the U.S. were constructed more than 35 years ago. Revitalizing these existing buildings represents Congress’s single best opportunity for making a significant impact on sustainability, resiliency, and energy efficiency. ASHRAE is committed to working with Congress to provide resources and knowledge which continually drive the innovative and strategic improvements needed during this transformation of the built environment.”
According to ASHRAE, Gulledge highlighted the new ASHRAE Global Headquarters building to demonstrate how to transform older existing buildings into high-performance workplace environments in a cost-effective and practical way.
AHRI certification program expands test conditions
ARLINGTON, Virginia, 28 May 2021: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) on May 18 announced that it is implementing a wide range of test conditions in certain of its certification programs, to help promote global energy efficiency; to suit varying global environmental conditions and regional needs; to align itself with local, regional and international regulations; and to address requirements of its members and certification program participants.
AHRI said that in addition to the standard T1 test conditions (35 degrees C outdoor dry-bulb), it has been introducing the T3 test conditions (46 degrees C outdoor dry-bulb) and T4-Kuwait (48 degrees C outdoor dry-bulb), with operability tests at 52 degrees C for a large range of “tropical” air conditioning products in the high-ambient temperature (HAT) countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.
AHRI said that with T3 ratings already available for applied products, such as air-cooled and water-cooled chillers, and for direct-expansion products, such as ducted-split systems, packaged rooftop units in both residential and commercial segments, and inverter-type residential units, it continues to expand the T3 ratings to other products, such as VRFs. These actions and many others, it added, are why a growing number of entities around the world are relying on AHRI-certified products and equipment, which have provided performance assurance for more than 60 years across 40 programs and with more than 1,100 certified licensees across the globe.
The initiative’s first part, it said, is to help its GCC region, Asian, European and American members and program participants certify their tropical high-ambient products to T3 test conditions through simplified mechanisms and processes. The second part, it said, involves its outreach to regional regulators and authorities, informing them of their ability to ensure compliance to T3 conditions, if they wish to do so.
“We are confident that this dual approach directly supports the important value proposition of achieving governmental energy efficiency goals and regulatory/policy initiatives, while providing a wider range of quality equipment to the residential and commercial sectors in HAT regions,” said Khalil Issa, Managing Director, AHRI MENA. “Governments, consumers, and other entities have always had the assurance that AHRI Certified products have been tested by third-party laboratories to perform as promised, helping to ensure expected energy and cost savings for the benefit of institutional clients, end-users, consumers, and the environment. The expanded test conditions solidify that assurance and allow customers in these regions access to a wider array of quality product choices.”
AHRI said its publicly available, free Directory of Certified Product Performance not only allows consumers, contractors, and others to quickly assess whether a product is AHRI Certified or not but also enables local regulators to immediately enforce compliance by easily identifying non-compliant products.
IEA releases ‘roadmap to net zero’ report
BERKELEY, California, 18 May 2021: The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it has published its first ever comprehensive roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050. The report, it added, provides guidance for governments, companies, investors and the public on what is necessary to fully decarbonize the energy sector and lower greenhouse gas emissions to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The report, it said, comes after it received widespread criticism for systematically underestimating the pace of adoption of clean energy technologies, such as solar and wind, and substantially overestimating their costs. Critics, it said, argued that IEA projections had effectively acted as support for the fossil fuel industry’s business-as-usual operations.
In a significant shift, the IEA said, it today recognizes that on a net-zero pathway there can be no investment in new fossil fuel supply. This, it said, includes oil, gas and coal projects. The IEA said, it confirms that with the introduction of policy to achieve climate stabilization at 1.5 degrees, the fossil fuel sector will face significant demand reduction.
Danielle Fugere, President, As You Sow, responding to the release of the report, said: “This new net-zero scenario from the IEA finally aligns with investor expectations and makes abundantly clear to fossil fuel companies that they must set net-zero targets, develop a clear transition strategy, and evolve in step with the decarbonizing global economy. Standing in the way of progress is no longer acceptable for companies’ own enterprise success or for the global economy.”
Daniel Stewart, Senior Research Associate, As You Sow, said: “Until now, the IEA’s research has been used to play down transition risks faced by the fossil fuel industry and as a support for inadequate energy and climate policy. IEA’s new scenario firms up what investors already knew about the steps needed to achieve climate stabilization by mid-century. It demonstrates without a doubt that it is difficult but absolutely possible to contain the catastrophic impact of runaway climate change, and signals major disruption on the horizon for industries reliant on fossil fuels.”
VC funds, Hollywood stars invest heavily in climate change innovation
CHICAGO, Illinois, 18 May 2021: The year 2021 has already seen multiple climate-focused fund launches. London-based One Planet Capital launched a fund for green tech, fintech and sustainability-based B2C businesses, while Hollywood ‘Iron Man’ actor, Robert Downey Jr has founded FootPrint Coalition Ventures to invest in high-growth, sustainability-focused companies.
Robert Downey Jr
The financial world used to think environmental issues couldn’t generate viable rewards, but another climate-focused fund, Congruent Ventures, believes a tipping point has been passed.
Congruent raises investment specifically for Climate Change solution start-ups and, with USD 300 million under management after closing its second fund at USD 175 million, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Abe Yokell, said: “If you brought up the word ‘cleantech’ to any institutional investor allocating to venture 10 years ago, they would do their best to avoid the meeting, but now, there’s a fundamental belief there will be significant financial returns investing broadly in climate tech over time.”
Congruent’s portfolio includes electric vehicle-charging provider, Amply, which raised USD 13.2 million last year from investors, including Soros Fund Management and Siemens. Digitally controllable electrical panel company, Span raised USD 20 million in January through Congruent, with investors including Munich Re Ventures’ HSB Fund and Amazon’s Alexa Fund.
And Congruent itself is well-founded, with investors including UC Investments, the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Three Cairns Group, Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust and Surdna Foundation, among other institutions, foundations and family offices.
Regulation A+ crowdfunding companies are also seeing investment, such as digital twins company, Cityzenith, who recently launched their international ‘Clean Cities, Clean Future’ campaign as part of the Race to Zero movement.
Cities worldwide generate 70% of the world’s carbon emissions, but Cityzenith’s AI Digital Twin platform technology can help property asset management groups, city planners and developers reduce emissions and move to carbon neutrality in the next 10 years.
Michael Jansen, CEO, Cityzenith, said at the launch of the ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ initiative: “We have to help the most polluted urban centers become carbon neutral, and we plan to do this by donating the company’s Digital Twin platform, SmartWorldOS to key cities, one at a time, after every USD 1 million we raise. We’re able to do this because of the recent surge of investment we’ve had as part of our USD 15m raise.”
Cityzenith is already benefiting from the funding shift, reportedly attracting USD 2.5 million in investment since late 2020 through Regulation A+ crowdfunding and a surge in shares from USD 0.575 to USD 1.50 in just five months. The US company has raised USD 10 million to date.
Jansen said: “In the past decade, investors struggled to justify backing Climate Change solutions, but global demand for net-zero carbon by 2050 and a sustainable future means a tipping point has been passed.
“Products, such as our own SmartWorldOS™, which monitors and collects data on future and existing building assets, so construction and maintenance can occur at optimal efficiency, will be essential to reducing carbon emissions and energy waste. We must invest in climate solutions now so that we can protect our planet sooner and more effectively.
“We’ve seen a significant amount of interest in our current USD 15m raise from accredited investors in recent months, as there are tangible, financial upsides in the built-environment to going climate-friendly, and carbon credits are going to become an enormous part of this in the next few years.”
European-based fund 2150 also launched this year, investing €200m (USD 240 million) into start-ups developing sustainable technologies to lower carbon emissions in Europe’s cities.
Co-founder Christian Hernandez has seen a shift in perceptions, too. He said: “There are enough proof points now that those two (profitable investments and investing in climate solutions) can coexist.”
AHRI Board approves decarbonization general position statement
ARLINGTON, Virginia, 18 May 2021: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) on May 14 released a General Position Statement on Decarbonization, advancing the association as a resource for states and localities grappling with how to successfully, sustainably and affordably reduce emissions related to the built-environment.
AHRI revealed the paper as noting, “The air conditioning, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and water heating industry has a long history of providing innovative, high-quality, energy-saving, affordable products that enhance the comfort, safety, health, and productivity of businesses and people around the world”. It expresses AHRI’s support for “the ongoing, science-based transition to a lower carbon society, in which consumer choices for heating, cooling, water heating, and commercial refrigeration are the most energy efficient, environmentally beneficial available anywhere in the world, while maintaining appropriate and adequate levels of safety, health, comfort, and affordability”.
Stephen Yurek, President & CEO, AHRI, said: “Our member companies – which have more than 100 years of experience and expertise in product solutions, technology, and innovation – can serve as a valuable resource in helping the nation achieve a lower carbon society.”
The statement, AHRI said, comes on the heels of the success of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, passed by Congress in 2020, which provides authority to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the production of high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons and establishes a national phase down structure for the refrigerants that are widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. That effort, AHRI said, more than 10 years in the making for the industry, is forecast to ultimately result in a 0.5 degree reduction in global temperatures over the next 30 years, even as it creates jobs and helps the industry’s global trade posture.
Belimo announces webinar to launch integrated thermal energy management solutions
DANBURY, Connecticut, 14 May 2021: Belimo said it will be introducing a new era of integrated thermal energy management, through a webinar at 8am (Eastern Time) on June 10: Thursday, June 10, 2021 @ 9:00 AM (ET).
According to Belimo, its technology experts will use practical examples to show how its new device will increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. The webinar, Belimo said, is geared for individuals within the HVAC industry; building technology, building automation, general contractors/investors, consulting engineers, system integrators, installers/plant engineers, building owners, facility managers/building maintenance and OEMs. Belimo said it will unveil and demonstrate the new integrated thermal energy device and provide in-depth conversation with developers, experts, customers and partners.
This new innovation, Belimo said, marks its commitment to bring more sustainability into buildings while optimizing energy efficiency throughout the HVAC system.
Valmet to deliver multi-fuel boiler plant to Veolia
ESPOO, Finland, 2 May 2021: Valmet will deliver a multi-fuel boiler plant to Veolia Energie ČR, in Prerov, in the Czech Republic, the Finland-headquartered company said through a Press release. The new boiler will replace an old coal-fired unit and strengthen Veolia’s strategy to move toward more environmentally friendly production of district heat and electricity, Valmet added. Valmet said the order was included in its orders received in the first quarter of 2021. Typically, the value of this kind of order is EUR 35-40 million, it said. The boiler plant will be taken over by the customer in January 2023, it added.
“We chose Valmet based on the criteria of public procurement, in other words, on the combination of price and operational costs for 15 years,” says Jaromir Novak, Head of Technical Department, Veolia Energie ČR. “Valmet has a high number of running references and long experience with boilers. That is why we trust Valmet and already cherish our future relationship.”
Jari Niemelä, Director, Boilers and Gasifiers, Valmet, said: “This is yet another great example of how Valmet can support decarbonization in the energy sector. We will even reuse the existing boiler house to help reduce not only CO2 emissions from energy production but also from constructing the power plant. With flexible use of biomass and waste in all possible mixtures, the plant is fit for the challenging energy transition.”
Valmet said its delivery scope includes a 40 MWth Valmet BFB Boiler, utilising bubbling fluidised bed combustion technology. The boiler steam production is 52 t/h at 4.2 MPa(g) and 420 degrees C, it said. The multifuel boiler is designed to run from 0 to 100% on refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and/or biomass, it added.
Additionally, Valmet said, the delivery includes a flue gas cleaning system, refurbishment of an existing steel structure and its modification, electrification and instrumentation as well as an upgrade of an existing automation system.
Green Building Alliance, UN’s partners receive International Climate Initiative Award
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, 21 April 2021: Green Building Alliance (GBA) announced an international collaboration led by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to develop a USD 24 million project to improve the energy efficiency of the global building supply chain and its products to deliver high performance buildings. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety awarded this project, signaling the advancement of a planning phase and full proposal. The launch of the project was announced on April 21 by Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker at the UNECE’s 69th Commission meeting.
According to GBS, the award solidifies the Greater Pittsburgh region as a global leader in the expeditious innovation of technologies, products and training aimed at curbing carbon emissions and creating healthy, sustainable buildings. The project presents an opportunity to work with international leaders in the field to identify solutions and strategies, and then implement best practices for the Pittsburgh region. GBA said the IKI award, in conjunction with Pittsburgh’s designation as a UN International Center of Excellence on High Performance Building, confirms GBA as a leader in providing solutions to improve the built environment thereby positively impacting climate change, human health, social equity, and a thriving economy.
“Funding high-performance buildings and retrofitting existing buildings can rapidly reinvigorate local economies, supporting or creating quality jobs through the entire building supply chain while delivering on long-term quality of life for everyone,” said Scott Foster, Director of Sustainable Energy, UNECE, about this innovative work. “Given its size and its history both as a coal-mining and steel-making center and as an example of urban rebirth, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer the cities of the world in terms of its experience and know-how.”
GBA said it is eager to begin the important work. “It is an honor to play such an important role in the US commitment to climate and infrastructure and the need to rapidly transform the building industry,” said Jenna Cramer, Executive Director, GBA. “We have an opportunity to build upon our 28-year history of making Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region a leadership hub for green buildings and sustainable products. This project is part of our efforts with the Greater Pittsburgh International Center of Excellence, a public private partnership that uniquely positions organizations, researchers, companies, and governments to collectively problem-solve for our region’s future while also connecting on a global platform to share best practices and advance solutions.”
According to GBA, the building and construction sector plays a key role in addressing global issues, including significant emissions reductions, improved energy security and increased circular economy. The sector is integral to achieving the Paris Agreement goals, as it is responsible for approximately 40% of energy- and process-related emissions. The project kick-off will take place in May 2021. Led by UNECE, other partners include UN Environment, UN Development Programme (UNDP) offices in select countries, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Passivhaus Institute (Germany), and the Technical University of Denmark. GBA is the only partner in the United States.
The Greater Pittsburgh Center of Excellence current partners include Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Conference on Community Development, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PJ Dick, Fourth Economy, Duquesne Light, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Covestro, Partner4Work, Innovation Works, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, other nonprofits, and professionals.
Eurovent Middle East joins Cool Coalition
DUBAI, UAE, 20 April 2021: Eurovent Middle East has become a member of the Cool Coalition, a global initiative led by UN Environment and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, the HVACR industry association said through a Press release. The initiative promotes a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to meet the cooling needs of industrialised and developing countries through better building design, energy efficiency, renewables, and thermal storage as well as phasing down refrigerants with a high global warming potential, Eurovent said.
The Cool Coalition is a global multi-stakeholder network that connects a wide range of key actors from governments, cities, international organisations, businesses, finance, academia and civil society groups to facilitate knowledge exchange, advocacy and joint action towards a rapid global transition to efficient and climate-friendly cooling. The Cool Coalition is currently working with over 100 partners, including 23 countries.
Markus Lattner, Managing Director, Eurovent Middle East, said: “The Middle East stands like no other region for the essential role of cooling and refrigeration for a successful socio-economic development. Eurovent Middle East has been established to provide crucial coordination between governments, industry and service providers and to build up competence in cooling and refrigeration within the region. We have joined the Cool Coalition, as we fully believe that it will be by cooperation and collaboration that we are able to transform societies towards a responsible and sustainable use of resources. We are proud to join other organisations from our region and strengthen the role of the Middle East in this global initiative.“
Lily Riahi, Cool Coalition Coordinator at UNEP, said: “To put the cooling sector on a path to net-zero emissions, we need everyone on board. The Cool Coalition is thrilled to welcome Eurovent Middle East among its members. Together, we can transform the sector and put it on a path to decarbonisation, in line to global climate targets and sustainable development goals.”
ASHRAE To host Tech Hour on building commissioning
ATLANTA, Georgia, 1 April 2021: ASHRAE premiered ‘Tech Hour #3: Commissioning’. It is presented by Jay Enck, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Commissioning, Green Building Solutions, Inc. and Reinhard Seidl, Principal, Taylor Engineering LLP, ASHRAE said.
The Tech Hour series, ASHRAE said, provides relevant technical content in the form of one-hour videos to members and interested individuals through the ASHRAE 365 app.
The third in the series will analyze the impact of climate change and evolving technology on commissioning of new and existing buildings, ASHRAE said. Viewers will learn about evaluating building characteristics and usage patterns that affect building energy footprint and occupant productivity, in addition to data presentation and communications to facility managers and O&M staff, it added.
According to ASHRAE, viewer learning points include:
- Understanding why commissioning existing building stock is so important.
- Important steps to reducing energy consumption.
- How new technologies help in implementing higher systems efficiency and ongoing Cx with cloud-based documentation methods and energy monitoring.
According to ASHRAE, one PDH will be available to viewers upon completion of a survey link in ASHRAE 365. Due to the cancellation of many in-person ASHRAE Chapter meetings and the DL program, the PDH period for Tech Hours has been extended through June 30, 2021, ASHRAE added.
To view ASHRAE Tech Hour videos, ASHRAE suggested downloading ASHRAE 365 on the App Store or Google Play.
Digitalisation of cold chain assets
While 2020 will undoubtedly join the pantheon of eminently forgettable years in modern recorded history, it will be remembered as the time when we further strengthened the food sector by making use of opportunities presented by technology and other disciplines. Indeed, it would be accurate to say that the pandemic sent food retailers into a tizzy with consumers relying on e-commerce platforms more than ever.
Now, amidst the melee that ensued on the front end, very few noticed the steady rise of IoT acceleration at the back end or the machinery. With that, the need for digitalisation of refrigeration technical assets started gaining pace with the objective of improved energy efficiency.
Since October 2020, companies such as Eliwell Schneider Electric, Danfoss, Carel, Carrier, Emerson, Bitzer and Daikin vigorously started showcasing their digital solutions through such shows as e-Chillventa. The digital ‘show of strength’ highlighted the importance attached to digital transformation and its vast positive implications on operational efficiency. Based on these developments, CPI Industry, which is organising the Food Chain conference – and in doing do so, stands on the threshold of conducting the 10th edition of the event – has aptly themed it as, “Digital transformation of cold chain & food machinery technical assets”.
Apart from the topic of food safety, the conference will be a platform for brainstorming on IoT acceleration, which is one of the main pillars of Industry 4.0 in back-end technical assets. Digital transformation is the current business buzz-term in the GCC region, and I do believe there is considerable untapped market potential for this in cold chain verticals.
What is digitalisation? How is it different from digitisation? Is it technological or cultural?
Who are responsible for making it happen? How does it help the cold chain verticals? Whom does it benefit? Why do we need it? To what extent does it play a role in energy and eco efficiency and sustainability? What are the human and technology-related processes? What are the skills required and their availability in the region? Is digital transformation a bane or a boon? Do we indeed need to incorporate digitalisation to progress?
I look forward to answering these and more in the April issue.
The writer is an independent cold chain consultant after having served in the refrigeration sector in the GCC region as part of major MNCs. In May 2021, he will serve as Chairperson of the 10th edition of the Middle East Cold Chain Food Safety Conference, popularly known as Food Chain. He may be contacted at email@example.com
The Crux of building performance
Buildings often do not perform in an optimal and efficient way despite significant investment during design and construction. The reasons can be wide and varied, and there is a certain inevitability that issues during construction will arise, and decisions will be made that could ultimately affect the long-term performance of the building. Building Commissioning, when utilised correctly, is a systematic quality assurance process. It increases the likelihood of buildings operating in line with their design intent, by verifying and documenting the fact that building services are designed, installed, tested and are operating in line with the Owners Project Requirements (OPR). This is primarily done with detailed planning, organisation, coordination and control of all commissioning activities.
Conversely, a building that is not operating in line with project requirements can be inefficient from an energy standpoint, financially uneconomical or suffering from poor indoor environmental quality (IEQ), of which indoor air quality (IAQ) is a significant part. This scenario is particularly prominent across the GCC region, where commissioning is largely misunderstood, under-utilised or is carried out to a low standard. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), based on a database of 643 buildings across approximately 100 million square feet of floor space, found the main causes of energy inefficiency in commercial buildings to be ductwork leakage, HVAC systems running and lights left on when spaces are unoccupied, ventilation systems incorrectly balanced, dampers not working and incorrect controls set-up, with an estimated 94.6 billion kilowatt hours annually (BkWh/year) wasted across the top 13 of 100 issues identified. Ductwork leakage was responsible for the greatest energy inefficiency, accounting for 28.6 BkWh/year alone, which has been seen to be a common issue across construction projects in the GCC region.
In addition to energy savings, correcting these issues would likely improve the indoor environment, as the identified issues would have an expected impact on heating and cooling, ventilation of spaces, and potential for drafts and noise. Identifying and correcting these commonly found issues should lead to an overall increase in occupant satisfaction. Commissioning is arguably the most cost-effective process for short-term and long-term advantages to building owners, facility managers and building occupants. However, there are many projects in the GCC region, where commissioning is not utilised or is carried out to a low standard. To put this in perspective, the LBNL study found the median cost for commissioning a new building accounted for 0.4% of the total construction cost. The data received demonstrates a significant 13% energy saving in new buildings, should commissioning and management be implemented effectively. On this basis, the client’s ROI would be 4.2 years.
The purpose of commissioning in new buildings is to ensure the performance requirements of the building owners’ objectives are achieved, making sure the building is operating as efficiently as it can at the time of handover. Commissioning in existing buildings is to validate whether the building is operating efficiently and to identify performance gaps, inefficiencies and improvements needed to return it to an efficient operational condition.
There are several names for commissioning in existing buildings, namely Re-Commissioning, Retro Commissioning and Continuous Commissioning. Retro Commissioning is utilised in buildings where no commissioning was previously performed. Re-Commissioning is typically carried out every 5-10 years and completed when the building use has changed, internal fit-outs completed or equipment and components in the systems are upgraded. Continuous Commissioning is based on frequently monitoring the building use, diagnosing improvements and fine-tuning the building performance.
Re-Commissioning and Continuous Commissioning are beneficial, as they allow flexibility for changing the use of internal spaces without affecting the building’s performance. The way a building is used and operated is often different from the condition predicted during design stage, where assumptions are made for occupant density, temperature set-points, control schedules and operation of HVAC systems. A major factor is occupant behaviour, which is difficult to predict and cannot be known at the time of design. The use of the building compared to the predicted design is monitored and changes made to fine-tune the system performance. A study by Wang L, et al (Uncertainties in energy consumption introduced by building operations and weather for a medium-size office building) showed poor practice in building operation can result in an increase in energy use of 49-79%, and good practice can reduce energy consumption by 15-29%.
Commissioning as a process has become more prevalent in the GCC region in recent years, with several high-profile developers, project management companies and consultants specifying this as a requirement. As an example of implementing commissioning in the GCC region, the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications (DGBR) outlines requirements for commissioning in new as well as existing buildings, highlighting the value of commissioning in securing a green future for Dubai.
To take this a step further, the regulations in the GCC region could outline the requirement of commissioning as a process by referencing publications such as CIBSE Commissioning Code M – Commissioning Management, BSRIA Model Commissioning Plan or ASHRAE Standard 202 – Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems, which are useful publications for capturing the commissioning process throughout the lifecycle of a building.
To enhance this, it would be beneficial to specify requirements of who can complete the commissioning and management, and the level of training and experience needed. Commissioning is often completed by an independent company, whose role is to ensure compliance with the OPR; the impartial nature is part of the value of commissioning. Unless regulations specify commissioning must be independent, this allows ‘in-house’ commissioning to be completed, which is not unbiased and, citing from experience, often results in ‘covering up’ issues identified instead of resolving them.
In comparison to the UK Building Regulations, commissioning of building services is a key requirement identified, and for buildings to conform to the energy efficiency requirements, CIBSE and BSRIA methodology are to be followed, and the process should be overseen by someone suitably qualified by relevant training or experience. The regulations cite membership of the Commissioning Specialists Association (CSA), the Commissioning Group of the Building and Engineering Services Association (B&ES) and Lighting Industry Commissioning Scheme as a way of demonstrating this.
The writer is Senior Commissioning Manager, AESG, and Committee Member, Commissioning Specialists Association (GCC). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE EVOLVING BUILDING-RETROFIT LANDSCAPE
The Middle East’s construction sector remains resilient despite the complexities brought on by 2020. For stakeholders, the resiliency stems from the sector’s ability to withstand difficulties even prior to COVID-19. Providing an example, Majd Fayyad, Technical Manager, Emirates Green Building Council, says that in 2018, the growing oversupply of high-end residential and commercial properties saw investment yields start to fall, way before the pandemic triggered further reductions in construction contract awards in 2020. Fayyad says that though there has been a decline in the value of new contracts in the GCC region – for instance, it went down by 40% to just over USD 4 billion in April 2020 – the outlook for 2021, according to Deloitte, is more optimistic, with the UAE’s GDP set to grow 2.5%.
For Phillipa Grant, Partner and Director of Sustainability, AESG, the construction pipeline is not as dry as people may think. “I think there has been a shift, and Dubai has become a bit more of a regional design hub for the Middle East,” she says. “There is a lot of work being done in Dubai, which covers the wider GCC region, as well as in Africa; so, for the whole MENA region, a lot of new construction is still going on, which is managing to keep the architects and engineers within Dubai busy.”
A more pressing issue affecting project pipelines is the shift in the overall energy intensity in buildings following the onset of COVID-19,with Fayyad pointing out that social distancing measures and teleworking reduced people’s use of commercial buildings, while increasing energy consumption at home. He adds that in the first half of 2020, electricity use in residential buildings in some countries grew by 20-30% while falling by around 10% per cent in commercial building*. “Further, the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction states that CO2 emissions from the operation of buildings have increased to their highest level in 2019,” he says.
Overall, Fayyad says there is ample opportunity in 2021 to look at the way buildings are utilised. He points out that these factors are increasing focus on implementing green building best practices in upcoming developments and driving momentum for retrofitting practices, which has already been a strong focus in recent years in the move to achieve greater energy efficiency and reduced emissions and costs. Azmi S Aboulhoda, Director, EMergy Consultancy, shares a similar opinion. “In the UAE, attention towards energy retrofitting has been increasing for several years now,” he says. “It is moving in parallel with the new construction. Recently, few steps have been taken in Saudi Arabia to govern the business and establish guidelines and regulations. With the increase in number of people working remotely, a new concern has been raised that will push the retrofit business in the region towards homes.” Aboulhoda points out that retrofitting holds strong opportunity to enhance the value of buildings and that it will need to be considered not just from an energy perspective but also in the way we use spaces.
Azmi S Aboulhoda
Ronak Monga, Segment Development Manager – Commercial Building Services, Grundfos, says that the same trend can be seen in Oman and Kuwait, as well. “Many of the buildings you see in these countries have now existed for more than ten years,” he says. “These old buildings present a high energy savings potential. Business sectors that operate their buildings, such as hospitals, schools and hotels, have the highest energy savings opportunity in their existing infrastructure. Not only will retrofit ensure smooth operation and maintenance, but it will also significantly reduce operational expenditure, which then improves their bottom line.” He adds that with the pandemic situation, businesses are focusing on keeping operational expense to a minimum to survive the global economic impact brought by COVID-19.
ENERGY FOR THE PURPOSES OF ROI
To date, a lot of the retrofitting initiatives are directed towards addressing the changes in energy consumption profiles. Fayyad points out that with mass teleworking and eLearning shifting activities to the residential subsector and several major companies allowing their workforce the freedom to work from home, existing commercial and office spaces, undoubtedly, need to be adapted, retrofitted and/or repurposed to cater to occupancy profile, be it partial or full. Aboulhoda says that this is the main concern driving building and business owners towards retrofitting, as they will be paying almost the same amount of utility bills, despite the reduced occupancy.
Grant adds that these trends have a long-term effect on discussions surrounding office spaces and that this will lead to different streams of thoughts from architects and designers. “A lot of building owners are looking more at flexibility and the use of space in different and more innovative ways,” she says. “This is better than having a vacant space, which is a waste of energy, as you will still need to keep it running; and also, there is the cost impact. So, there will be focus on flexibility, looking at how spaces can be used and how we can make the most of existing stock we have with the changing environment.”
Monga adds that this drastic change in occupancy has brought into focus how buildings perform in part-load conditions – and usually, the efficiency during part load is a focus during design – but has not brought much into focus when buildings are in operation. “This drastic change in occupancy in buildings has brought into attention both during new projects and retrofits how various systems operate in part load,” he says. Fayyad says that a lot of the older building stock is not equipped to handle these challenges, as the existing control systems are outdated or, in some cases, not even present. “Building retrofits in these scenarios can allow owners and facility management to respond adequately using demand-controlled control strategies,” he says. “It not only allows them to save energy and water but also gives them the tools necessary to respond to different occupancy levels. They are also able to record the time-of-use and the energy profile throughout the operations to gather data and optimise their controls and operations.”
Fayyad says that in the UAE, there is an enormous potential in the buildings and construction sector to increase resource and material efficiencies, drive carbon emissions reductions and stimulate economic growth. “Based on the EmiratesGBC’s Building Efficiency Accelerator Project Report, the best hotel and hotel apartment performers consume 58% less energy and 65% less water per unit area than the worst performers in the category,” he says. “The best performers among schools consume 61% less energy and 84% less water per unit area compared to the worst. Among malls, the lowest consumer uses 35% less energy and 58% less water per area compared to the highest consumer.” Fayyad points out that this shows the strong potential for savings and operational efficiencies that can be achieved through remedial actions, such as audits, retrofits, energy management and the use of awareness campaigns or trainings to drive changes in behaviour.
Grant says that there has been a lot of push from a sustainability perspective. “That’s only going to increase, because there is going to be more and more pressure to reduce energy consumption, improve efficiency, reduce carbon, and hit international, regional and local targets,” she says. “So, the pressure is going to mount from a sustainability perspective, which is great, because I think it needs to happen. There needs to be that pressure, and we’re still not on track to hit targets, and there is a lot more that needs to be done across all areas.” An area that Grant says has also been gaining better awareness in retrofits is fire and life safety, especially in existing high-rises, which typically face risk from poor cladding.
FOCUS ON HEALTH AND WELLNESS
In addition to energy-related and fire-and-safety-related building performance, retrofits have placed greater emphasis on occupant health. Aboulhoda says that nowadays, the energy-retrofitting projects are being combined with indoor environmental quality (IEQ) measures through projects that can be categorised as retro-commissioning, where energy is not the only or main concern. “This will attract investors looking forward to overcome the financial crisis of the current and any future pandemics,” he says. This move, Fayyad says, is especially evident in the retail and hospitality sectors. “Consumer confidence and spending were influenced, as employers took steps to manage the impact of COVID-19 by reducing salaries and cutting jobs,” he says. “In light of the ease of restrictions, lockdowns and the availability of vaccines, the tourism and retail sectors are slowly picking up.
These sectors are looking to increase customer confidence and, as a result, are following not only social distancing protocols but also the overall efficient operations of their facilities.” Fayyad points to ASHRAE and REHVA, which have released guidance for safe HVAC operations for the prevention of transmission of COVID-19 indoors, and these practices stem from proper IAQ and IEQ practices. “Increased outdoor-to-indoor ventilation and filtration, however, does increase energy consumption, and the only way to mitigate this is through efficient operations and/or retrofits,” he says. “This is not only limited to retail or hospitality but other sectors, as well, such as schools and commercial buildings. In critical times such as this, owners are increasingly aware that their buildings’ operations should not only have minimal costs but also be safe.”
Fayyad adds that the guidance developed by ASHRAE and REHVA rely on the core principles of sustainable and green buildings. “Research has shown that health and wellbeing features have a positive effect on employee retention and mental health as well reduced operational costs. This is a win-win situation for building owners and tenants, as owners do not have to spend as much capital on maintenance and operations,” he says. “Tenants, in turn, enjoy the benefits of a healthier indoor environment and do not have to pay as much on their utilities. Several businesses, especially in hospitality and retail, are now obliged to ensure health and safety in buildings as a top priority. Their business revenue is now more than ever related to how seriously they take actions to ensure the safety of their guests, visitors and occupants.”
AboulHoda echoes this, saying that IEQ has become crucial for a successful retrofit. “COVID-19 has increased the awareness among building and business owners,” he says. “Further, COVID-19 has added another dimension of retrofit measures, such as economisers, which will more efficiently introduce outside air in buildings, and personalised systems, which will avoid running full systems when partial occupancies take place. The measures taken by building and business owners are more focused into concentrated hygiene practices that can be observed by occupants and visitors and can result in some kind of assurance. However, system-wise measures are yet to evolve, since they encounter high capital investments.”
For Grant, there was already a definite shift in mindset toward health and wellness being considered as part of sustainability even before the pandemic. “Buildings are expanding to have that social health and welfare aspect from a design perspective, which is really great to see,” she says. “This was already happening, pre-COVID, and of course, COVID shone a light on health on a global scale to make sure people have healthy and safe spaces to live and work. I would expect additional drivers to that growing area and field. It will shift the way residential design is considered.”
Monga is in agreement, adding that pre-COVID, there was a lot of talk about improvement of employee productivity in relation to IAQ and IEQ “But the safety and health aspect of it has increased even more during the pandemic,” he says. “COVID-19 has also increased the focus on water disinfection – controlling the growth of any micro-organisms, like Legionella, in the water that we use on a day-to-day basis is equally important to stop the spread of communicable diseases.” Grant believes while there has been positive movement, more needs to be done. “I would still say, we are not seeing as much activity in retrofit as we would like to,” she says. “It would be great from a sustainability perspective to see that part of the market incentivised more to promote improvements in the existing buildings stock. I know there are regulations and government incentives coming into play. I should say that would hopefully stimulate more retrofit activities. We are hoping to still see more happen.”
Fayyad agrees. “While the efforts taken by the UAE government in this direction are commendable, we must continue to push the building and construction sector towards greater efficiencies and to lower the carbon emissions,” he says. “We only have a few years to meet the Paris Agreement targets, and now is the right time to start looking at deep retrofits as a key step in this journey.” Fayyad recommends achieving deep buildings retrofits, targeting 50% energy reduction by decreasing energy demand and implementing energy efficiency measures before adding on-site renewables. “In fact, 50% energy reduction is a realistic target for poor performing buildings, as our Deep Retrofit Study identified,” he says. Elaborating more on this study, Fayyad says that all respondents showed a positive position, with a majority agreeing that deep retrofits are achievable in the UAE with an acceptable payback period using the current technologies available in the market. “While most in the private sector agree that retrofits should be mandated, the developers prefer that building rating schemes should be made compulsory, instead, or retrofits made voluntary with more financial incentives developed,” he says. “Developers also agreed that an annual reduction target of 11-20% (in kWh) is adequate, should retrofits be mandated.”
Monga says that possibly having an incentive-based model, where higher commercial value is given to energy-efficient buildings, would be a “dream come true”. “Denmark has a similar concept – where a home or a building that is rated higher in energy efficiency can demand higher rent and selling price,” he says. “Therefore, incentivising the building developers also incentivises the potential tenants or buyers, as it helps them save on energy and heating costs in the long run.” In the region, Fayyad adds that the top three challenges to deep retrofits identified by the respondents were lack of landlord interest, lack of financial incentives and low tariff rates. “The results also showed there is greater need of market awareness of both retrofit projects and the expertise of the retrofit market,” he says. “EmiratesGBC recommends that ESCOs should report their project savings transparently and consistently to build confidence and repertoire within the industry to encourage the public to pursue more retrofits.” Fayyad adds that with the support of regulations and incentives, a decarbonisation roadmap can be realised.
RAK Municipality signs MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)
RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE, 17 February 2021: Ras Al Khaimah Municipality signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) – a joint venture of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministry of Power, Government of India – for a strategic collaboration for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Making the announcement through a Press release, the Municipality added that H.E. Munther Mohammed bin Shekar, its Director General, and Saurabh Kumar, Executive Vice Chairperson, EESL Group, were the signatories.
According to the Municipality, the MoU establishes a framework for collaboration across various energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in support of the Ras Al Khaimah Energy Efficiency & Renewables Strategy 2040 (EE&R Strategy).
Commenting on the objectives of the MoU, H.E. bin Shekar said, “The Government of Ras Al Khaimah is committed to the successful implementation of Ras Al Khaimah Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040. We welcome the collaboration with EESL, as their unique and vast expertise in energy efficiency can be relevant for us in developing effective projects across many sectors of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Ras Al Khaimah.” Sharing his views on the collaboration, Kumar said: “We are always exploring new avenues for implementing energy efficiency initiatives that are sector- and geography-agnostic. This partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Municipality is a big step towards tapping the immense potential for energy efficiency in the Emirate. Our expertise in handling the world’s largest energy efficiency portfolio and Ras Al Khaimah Municipality’s local experience and technical skills will synergise perfectly to create lasting positive impact in the region.”
Under this MoU, EESL, through its presence in the UAE, will support Ras Al Khaimah Municipality in implementing clean energy and energy efficiency projects under its Integrated Energy Efficiency Service (IEES) model, the Municipality said. This model includes integration of EESL’s various programmes, including the consumer-based Efficient Appliances Programme, Industrial Energy Efficiency Programme, Building Energy Efficiency Programme, Utility-scale Solar Programme, Trigeneration, National Motor Replacement Programme and the National E-mobility Programme, the Municipality added.
The Municipality said it will jointly develop and implement the programme framework with EESL. It said that EESL will make investments and develop customised project models relevant to Ras Al Khaimah. The collaboration is expected to develop and drive energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, as part of the Ras Al Khaimah Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040, it added. The Strategy, established under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, targets 30% energy savings, 20% water savings, and 20% contribution of electricity from renewable sources by 2040.
GEA speaks of improving plant efficiency, reducing carbon emissions
DUESSELDORF, Germany, 12 February 2021: Potential energy savings of up to 30% and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions by as much as 90% or even 100% – that’s what its Sustainable Energy Solutions (SEnS), which integrates processes and utilities (refrigeration and heating) solutions, can help in developing optimisation strategies for customers in diverse industries, GEA said through a Press release. Numerous successfully completed SEnS projects from GEA show that these optimisations reduce the customer’s energy footprint and running costs, without compromising output or the bottom line, GEA added.
According to the United Nations, energy efficiency offers a potential 40% of the emission reductions required to help meet global climate goals, GEA pointed out. Due to a growing number of rules and regulations and its own climate targets, there is an absolute need for the industry to reduce its carbon footprint and become more energy-efficient, overall, it said. With cooling and heating traditionally accounting for anywhere between 50% and 90% of a plant’s entire energy consumption, it’s the ideal starting point for GEA’s SEnS initiative, it added.
GEA said its SEnS offering is a culmination of a broad processing portfolio and years of industry know-how, combined with extensive refrigeration expertise. “SEnS supports customers in the food processing, dairy and beverage industries, helping them achieve their climate goals by making them more sustainable,” said Kai Becker, CEO, Refrigeration Technology Division, GEA. As a global industrial technology provider, GEA said, it will continue to strengthen its SEnS offering in 2021. Using the SEnS approach, GEA said it will promote the increased adoption of sustainable solutions, which drive down energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions while helping customers from diverse industry sectors slash their operational costs.
Ulrich Walk, Chief Service Officer (CSO) – Refrigeration Technologies, said: “GEA has developed a structured holistic and proven approach that begins with analysing the customer’s precise energy requirements, then making process optimizations and including utilities in the equation. By connecting heat pump technology to manufacturing processes, the GEA experts ensure energy is moving circularly, rather than being wasted.”
According to GEA, each SEnS project includes a single point of contact, enabling customers to achieve genuine and proven reductions in energy consumption and their carbon footprint. The SEnS process, the company said, is backed up by a cross-functional engineering team, with experts from dairy, food or beverage processing, as required, as well as team members with refrigeration (heating & cooling) expertise in diverse processing industries. Each project, it added, considers the customer’s business parameters and ambitions, formulated as measurable KPIs, against which the installation must deliver.
GEA introduces BOCK HGX24 CO2 T
DUESSELDORF, Germany, 08 February 2021: With the new HGX24 CO2 T range, GEA BOCK is expanding its semi-hermetic CO2 compressor range with a specialised focus on transcritical applications in the lower capacity range, the company said through a Press release.
Cooling capacities from 5 to 26 kW and heating capacities from 10 to 48 kW offer flexible stationary and mobile use in applications for supermarkets, commercial and small industrial refrigeration systems as well as for air conditioning and heat pumps in buses and trains, the company said. With their CO2-specific pressure design of up to 150 bar (HP) and 100 bar (LP) and a frequency range of up to 70 Hz, the gas-cooled compressors achieve the highest EER/COP values within their application spectrum – with up to five per cent higher efficiency in standard medium cooling compared to commercially available compressors in this segment. “The new transcritical compressors have proven themselves in extensive internal testing and in numerous field tests with our customers and will be available from February 2021 – equipped as standard with all the necessary features for use with the natural refrigerant R744,” said Manuel Fröschle, Product Manager Natural Refrigerants, GEA BOCK.
The new BOCK HGX24 CO2 T transcritical CO2 compressor (Photo: GEA)
According to GEA, the advantages of the new range for planners, investors and operators include significantly reduced energy and operating costs combined with a long service lifetime with low maintenance requirements, a wide range of applications – from medium- and low-temperature applications to high-temperature heat pumps – with reliable and flexible part load, as well as excellent low-noise and low-vibration running comfort with a minimal oil carry over rate. The basis for this, GEA claimed, is a CO2-optimised driving gear design combined with BOCK compressor technology. This includes, for example, the oil pump for a reliable lubrication system even under demanding conditions, including large permissible inclination angles of the compressors.
“Together with the compact dimensions, the low weight of only 116 kg, maximum, as well as standard market connection dimensions, the HGX24 CO2 T set new standards for transcritical economic solutions for smaller performance requirements in stationary and mobile applications,” Fröschle said. “In this regard, they support the fulfillment of important energy and environmental protection requirements, such as the European F-Gas Regulation or the global Kigali Agreement, and meet strict requirements of European standards and ASERCOM guidelines.”
According to GEA, the new range is now also integrated as an additional module in the free online planning and design software BOCK VAP (compressor selection program) and BOCK CO2 Tool (system and compressor selection program).
For special subcritical requirements in low-temperature applications with high operating and standstill pressures, GEA said, the semi-hermetic BOCK CO2 compressor program will offer the specifically designed low temperature cooling variant HGX24 CO2 LT (Low Temperature) with two motor versions from June 2021.
ENGIE in “sustainable” server cooling initiative
LINDAU ON LAKE CONSTANCE, Germany 5 February 2021: ENGIE Refrigeration spoke of how it intends to install a thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump of machine type HHR 130 with a heating capacity of 100 kilowatts at the Ludwigsburg District Office, in Baden-Württemberg, in Germany. The company added that the model is especially eco-friendly, partly because it utilises the natural refrigerant CO2 and partly because it provides cold and heat simultaneously. ENGIE added that it has also conceptually overhauled the thermeco2 – the heat pump now contains a filter dryer and more control options.
The administrative campus of the District Office is home to almost all the important specialist departments in the Swabian district. Various services for the citizens of Ludwigsburg are provided there with the aid of digital tools. This requires a powerful IT infrastructure, which is why the District Office maintains an in-house data centre, ENGIE said. Ambient temperature plays an essential role in reliable operation. As the server racks generate a large amount of heat, the refrigeration supply must function smoothly around the clock. In the summer of 2019, it became clear that action was needed here. “The existing R22 refrigeration system was outdated and needed to be fully modernized,” said Frank Glaser, Key Account Manager for Heating Applications at ENGIE Refrigeration. “As the Ludwigsburg District Office attaches great importance to a sustainable refrigeration solution, it chose the thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump from ENGIE Refrigeration.”
The District Office intends to operate in climate-neutral fashion from 2025, ENGIE said. To achieve this, it wants to use a photovoltaic system and a combined heat and power system to produce and consume its own electricity in future.
ENGIE said it is supporting the District Office on its path towards climate neutrality with sustainable server cooling. “The Ludwigsburg District Office requires heat uncoupling in a challenging temperature range: High outlet temperatures of up to 90 degrees Celsius, and a low inlet temperature of 38 degrees Celsius,” Glaser said. “Our thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump unfolds its full potential under these conditions, while alternative solutions could only achieve this with a great deal of technical and primary energy expenditure.”
A thermeco2 high-temperature heat pump. Source: ENGIE Refrigeration GmbH
The heat pump will be installed at the District Office in March 2021 and will then provide the baseload refrigeration for year-round server cooling, ENGIE said. Furthermore, the heat pump will cool the administrative building in the winter months and, thanks to its heat recovery function, simultaneously provide heat for heating the building, for heating drinking water and for conditioning the recirculated air in the server rooms, the company added. This makes the refrigeration solution especially sustainable, which is why it is subsidised by the state. Additional chillers and boilers are available for peak loads in hot or cold weather, ENGIE said.
With its machine design, the heat pump adapts easily to local conditions, ENGIE claimed. The heat pump uses the natural refrigerant CO2 as its refrigerant. It is extremely safe (safety class A1) and, therefore, involves few safety-related requirements for the installation space, the company said. In addition, CO2 is non-combustible and non-toxic, and it does not contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer or to the greenhouse effect, the company added. In total, the heat pump will save 38.4 tons of CO2 per year when compared to the existing refrigeration system – fully in line with the sustainability strategy of the District Office, the company further added.
ENGIE said it has subjected the heat pump to fundamental enhancements, which will now take effect for the first time in the machine for the District Office. “As of now, we will be relying on our tried-and-tested QUANTUM electrical components in the thermeco2 as well,” Glaser said. “In addition, the filter dryer will become the standard. It keeps the refrigerant circuit clean and dry and, thus, counteracts the decay of the chiller oil, corrosion and further contamination. This allows us to keep the performance of the system at a constant high level.” In addition, the company said, the heat pump weighs around 10% less than the previous model, thanks to its optimised design, smaller switch cabinet and soldered connections instead of flange connections.
JCI unveils sustainability commitments
CORK, Ireland, 29 January 2021: Johnson Controls (JCI) announced new environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments, science-based targets as well as a net-zero-carbon pledge to support a healthy, more sustainable planet over the next two decades. Making the announcement through a Press release, the company said its emissions reduction drive and that of its customers will be powered by its OpenBlue technologies and innovations, which leverage big data and artificial intelligence to optimise buildings sustainability.
“Sustainability is at the heart of our business and fundamental to everything that we do as a company,” said George Oliver, Chairman and CEO, Johnson Controls. “Today’s announcement reinforces our continued commitment to developing best-in-class climate solutions, and OpenBlue will empower our customers to streamline building operations and uncover energy efficiencies that will help meet their environmental goals. We continue to make sustainability a top priority for the company, our customers and our suppliers, and have set ambitious goals that will drive significant improvements in carbon emissions.”
The launch of the new commitments, the company said, will enable it to deliver quantifiable efforts to reduce carbon emissions, drive climate-focused innovation and work closely with customers and suppliers to meet sustainability goals as well as measurable impact against its three key OpenBlue healthy building pillars: healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet. These commitments, it added, are:
Environmental Sustainability Commitments:
- Set science-based targets consistent with the most ambitious 1.5 degrees C Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario
- Reduce Johnson Controls’ operational emissions by 55% and reduce customers’ emissions by 16% before 2030
- Achieve net-zero-carbon emissions before 2040, in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Race to Zero and Business Ambition for 1.5 degrees C criteria
- Invest 75% of new product development R&D in climate-related innovation to develop sustainable products and services
- Achieve 100% renewable electricity usage globally by 2040
Customer and supply chain commitments:
- Double annual avoided emissions by 2030 through customer use of Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue digitally enabled products and services
- Create a supplier sustainability council with cohorts of suppliers, and their tier-one suppliers, and provide suppliers with training on sustainability best practices and OpenBlue digital tools in order to meet ambitious, public sustainability goals
- Weight sustainability equal to other key metrics in supplier performance evaluations and provide a preference for suppliers with excellent sustainability ratings
Social and Governance Sustainability Commitments:
- Intends to double the representation of women leaders globally and minority leaders in the United States within five years
- Launch an initiative to educate the next generation of diverse sustainable building industry leaders, in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
- Include sustainability and diversity goals in senior leaders’ performance assessments, which are linked to executive compensation to drive accountability
- Launch an initiative focused on underserved markets and increase Johnson Controls’ spend with women- and minority-owned businesses
Katie McGinty, Vice President & Chief Sustainability, Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, JCI, said: “Our commitments reinforce the urgency to make positive changes that will improve the health of our planet, and we believe we are uniquely positioned to help customers and suppliers achieve their sustainability goals, in addition to our own. We are excited to step up the role we play and will continue to innovate and uncover new pathways to meet our goals which will contribute to healthier people, healthier places and a healthier planet.”
Empower signs contract to supply 30,000 RT of district cooling to wasl1 development
Ahmad Bin Shafar with H.E. Hesham Al Qassim during the signing ceremony
DUBAI, UAE, 26 January 2021: Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), announced that it has signed an agreement with Dubai-based Wasl Asset Management Group, one of the largest real estate development and management companies in Dubai, to supply its mixed-use development, wasl1, with 30,000 Refrigeration Tons of district cooling.
Currently being carried out in several phases, the project is located in proximity to Dubai’s arterial Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Jafiliya Metro Station, with views of Zabeel Park. wasl1 will eventually feature 13 residential towers, of which the first phase, Park Gate Residences – comprising four towers and consisting of 746 residential units – has been completed and handed over. wasl1 will also include a range of entertainment facilities, children’s play areas, fully equipped gymnasiums, a multi-purpose hall, and a number of retail stores, restaurants and cafes.
In his comments, H.E. Hesham Al Qassim, CEO, Wasl Asset Management Group, said: “We chose Empower based on its tremendous capabilities in providing district cooling services, and we believe that its efficacy will contribute to strengthening the distinctive wasl1 project. The company’s advanced technologies support our mandate to contribute to the sustainable development of the emirate, while also ensuring the provision of the best cooling services to tenants, effectively enhancing the unique characteristics of wasl1 as a luxury residential project.”
According to Empower, providing a project of such magnitude with green district cooling services has prompted the corporation to direct AED 210 million in investments to finance the construction of seven energy transmission and storage stations (ETS), and to connect the project to the new district cooling plant that is currently underway in the Zabeel area. This, Empower said, would require the building of a subway under Sheikh Zayed Road, in addition to the expansion of the district cooling network.
Empower also said that the wasl1 project will be provided with district cooling services in a number of phases. By mid-2021, the first phase is expected to be completed, which would enable it to provide 3,351 RT of cooling and up to the total capacity of 30,000 RT – equivalent to half of the production of the new Zabeel plant, Empower said. Subsequently, the district cooling plant in the Dubai Financial Centre, currently under operation, will be connected to the new Zabeel plant, with a total load of 112,000 RT, Empower added. This comes in the framework of a proactive plan it has established to meet the needs of the existing as well as of the upcoming mega development projects launched in this vital area of Dubai, Empower further added.
Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO, Empower, said: “We are working hard to serve the pioneering real estate projects, and we aim to provide all residential, commercial and entertainment facilities and sectors in the emirate of Dubai with district cooling services of sustainable international standards. This emphasizes the pioneering role Dubai plays with regards to reducing carbon emissions, which comes in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, may God protect him.”
Bin Shafar pointed out that adding the wasl1 project to Empower’s portfolio reflects the confidence real estate developers and dealers have in the reliable services it provides. He added that the association with the project also enhances its role in providing more quality cooling services with 50% less energy consumption, compared to the currently used traditional refrigeration services.
Danfoss Press Release – Fresh food, with minimum energy
NORDBORG, Denmark, 21, January 2021: Danfoss said it has strengthened its Alsense IoT services with a holistic store-level software suite, moving store maintenance from reactive to proactive. Making the announcement through a Press release, the company said the technology enables food retailers to prioritise and reduce their maintenance efforts across stores and critical events. It added that the software solution was originally developed by Honeywell.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Smart Refrigeration Solution and incorporate it into our Alsense cloud-based services,” said Jürgen Fischer, President, Danfoss Cooling Segment. “We are now putting predictive maintenance into action, allowing the food retail industry to prevent unplanned cooling system downtime and inefficiencies in energy consumption.”
Natalie Schnippering, Head, Product Management Digital Services, Danfoss, said: “Combining the Smart Refrigeration Solution with our existing Alsense portfolio accelerates our ambition of meeting food retail customers’ needs for optimizing and proactively maintaining a high store performance. The solution goes beyond the traditional monitoring systems that are primarily providing alarms and data overviews. It identifies operating issues, such as compressor failure or coil icing, and provides hands-on guidance to fix them.”
According to Danfoss, Alsense provides food retail professionals with transparency and executive overviews of refrigeration assets and energy efficiency at chain level. Going forward, the combined Alsense offering will enable managers to easily benchmark and prioritise efforts across stores to save time and optimise the impact of their maintenance spend, Danfoss said. Further, Alsense will provide service technicians with a prioritised action plan, empowering them to immediately address equipment performance and operating concerns upon arrival at a store, Danfoss added.
Chris LaPietra, Vice President and General Manager, Honeywell Stationary Refrigerants, said, “The Smart Refrigeration Solution software was developed based on customer requirements gathered from leading food retailers, who were looking to save money by reducing energy spend and improving performance of their refrigeration system.”
According to Danfoss, the step follows the launch of its Alsense IoT platform in October 2020 and will accelerate its efforts in providing food retail professionals with intuitive software tools and data-driven, expert-enabled insights to optimise operational efficiency, refrigeration asset performance and energy efficiency.
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launches policies to boost UAE’s sustainability agenda
ABU DHABI, UAE, 24 January 2021: His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, launched new initiatives and policies to boost the UAE’s sustainability agenda, the Ministry said through a Press release. The launch happened during the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the Ministry added.
The Minister highlighted the importance of driving coordinated action to expedite the energy transition and increase the share of renewables in the countries’ energy mix at the opening ceremony of the 11th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). He reflected on the UAE’s journey in deploying renewables at home and abroad, leading to a considerable surge in its domestic production capacity, as well as playing an effective and distinct role in reducing the cost of renewable energy worldwide.
At the Ministerial Plenary Meeting on National Energy Planning and Implementation for Fostering Energy Transition, Dr Al Nuaimi presented the UAE’s new climate ambitions, set out in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. He noted that the NDC fell under the country’s national economic and energy diversification drive, manifested in its current energy transition.
Moreover, Dr Al Nuaimi delivered the closing remarks at the first joint meeting to prepare for two landmark UN summits that will take place in New York in September 2021 – the Food Systems Summit and the High-level Dialogue on Energy. The participants proposed targets, policies, initiatives, and other outcomes for the summits that have simultaneous food, energy and climate benefits.
At a panel session, titled ‘COP26 – a Crucial Stepping Stone on the Path to a Sustainable Global Recovery’, the Minister stressed that the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26) is a timely opportunity for leaders to resume climate negotiations and work on a shared vision for raising climate ambition in the context of a green recovery.
He pointed out that throughout the tough times posed by COVID-19, the UAE has remained dedicated to accelerating its transition to a green economy, as part of its recovery plans, and has taken great strides along this path, including moving forward with its renewables and nuclear projects.
At the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, His Excellency Dr Al Nuaimi announced the launch of the UAE Sustainable Finance Framework 2021-2031 in partnership with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Pioneered by the Ministry, the national framework supports the mobilisation of private capital towards low-carbon, environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient investments.
With the aim of ensuring the UAE emerges as a leader in climate knowledge, the Minister launched the UAE Climate Change Research Network that brings together a group of committed scientists and researchers to advance climate data collection and policy-relevant research on climate change impacts and adaptation. The Network presents opportunities for climate scientists in the UAE to engage with one another and with their peers from other countries as well as to facilitate research collaborations.
Dr Al Nuaimi also unveiled the inaugural edition of The UAE State of Climate Report, which provides an overview of the state of knowledge on historical and projected climate changes and their impacts on the UAE and the wider Arabian Gulf region.
On the sidelines of ADSW 2021, the Minister opened the winners’ announcement of the third edition of the Global Innovation Award (GIA), organised by Globally on behalf of MOCCAE. The competition aims to attract innovations from around the world to the UAE to support the country in its quest to become a world leader in sustainable development. This year’s GIA received a record number of applications – more than 1,200 from 65 countries. The winner was Cambrian Innovation, from the United States, with its innovative waste-to-energy solution that purifies wastewater while producing energy from the contaminants.
Empower reveals AED 901 million net profit in 2020
According to Empower, performance in a nutshell
- Total cooling capacity crossed 1,640,000 RT, maintaining the position of the largest district cooling provider in the world
- Over 140,000 customers
- Total energy saving AED 3.4 billion in 2020
- A total of 350.474 kilometres of district cooling networks
DUBAI, UAE, 20 January 2020: Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower) reported a net profit of AED 901 million, with a total revenue of AED 2.26 billion in 2020. Making the announcement through a Press release, Empower said its revenues grew by three per cent, with a net profit increase of 3.4% year-over-year (YoY). Empower added that the performance has been commendable, given the difficult economic conditions resulting from the global pandemic.
Commenting on Empower’s financial results at the annual press conference, Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO, Empower, said: “2020 has been another successful year for Empower, with growth in its financial as well as operational performance, which is clearly evident from increase in revenues and net profit, additions in the number of district cooling plants, expansion of district cooling pipeline network, increase in customer base and the number of buildings connected with our district cooling services.”
According to Empower, the number of buildings it provides with its district cooling services exceeded 1,252, and the customer base has reached more than 140,000. The total cooling capacity has reached 1,640,000 Refrigeration Tons (RT) during 2020 that covered various projects, such as Deira Waterfront, Blue Waters, Jumeirah Group, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai International Financial Centre, Business Bay, Dubai Healthcare City, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Palm Jumeirah, Discovery Gardens, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai Design District and International Media Production Zone, amongst others, the utility said.
“Empower has also saved a total of 1,312 MW of electricity worth AED 3.4 billion, as of the end of 2020,” Bin Shafar said.
On the sidelines of the press conference, Bin Shafar also said: “We are proud of our achievements in terms of increased number of district cooling plants that has reached 84 plants across Dubai, including the world’s first unmanned district cooling plant in Jumeirah Village Circle project, along with having the largest district cooling network.
“Empower is committed towards efficient utilization of energy resources and supporting its customers and real estate developers, by providing high-quality and eco-friendly district cooling services.”
Bin Shafar also stated that Empower had reduced its fuel surcharge rates by approximately 25%, effective December 1, 2020, in line with the initiative of the Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy.
He added: “We will continue our endeavors in 2021 to increase the number of district cooling plants and expand our district cooling network across Dubai.”
Building for the “new normal”
As the world continues to grapple with an ever-shifting economic landscape, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders in the building sector across the GCC region have observed how the pandemic has triggered an evaluation and reassessment of priorities. Ashok Jha, Head FM and Retrofit Projects, Universal Voltas, points out that the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19 has prompted many organisations to take actions they have been putting off for some time, including launching new digital services and evolving their business models, enabling greater flexibility in their working and implementing cost optimisation measures.
However, Jha says, perhaps the most notable trend would be the move towards a greater number of retrofit projects in the region. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the oil prices plummeted to one of the lowest levels and government revenues went down in the GCC region,” he says. “This has led to reduced spending across all sectors, including new construction, with the current market seeing greater push towards shallow retrofitting, deep retrofitting, energy conservation and reducing the building carbon footprint in the existing buildings to make them more sustainable.” Jha says that since the number of existing buildings in Oman, Kuwait and the UAE is very high compared to new buildings, there was also a need to address the physical deterioration of the buildings, due to functional and economic obsolescence, and to make them more sustainable. “Because of this, there is a surge in demand for the retrofitting of the existing buildings across the GCC region,” he says (see sidebar).
Andrea Di Gregorio, Executive Director, Reem, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, also believes the region is poised to see a strong pipeline of retrofit projects. “More focus is being put in refurbishing existing buildings, to bring them up-to-speed with the latest best practices in sustainability,” he says. “We see an increase in interest from building owners in retrofit activities, and we expect this interest to further increase throughout 2021 and in the coming years.”
Energy efficiency and sustainability
Another major driver for retrofits is the move towards energy efficient and sustainable practices, which has long been heralded by experts in the sector. Jha points out that because of the detrimental impact of buildings on the environment, with occupied buildings and the construction sector accounting for 36% of the global energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions according to International Energy Agency (IEA), the UAE has begun to actively transition into smart and sustainable cities, which has turned the focus on the energy efficiency of the buildings, specifically existing ones.
In addition to its impact on overall sustainability efforts, much of the move can be attributed to growing awareness on return of investment in terms of reduced operational cost. As Jha points out, retrofitting primarily refers to the measures being taken to replace legacy energy and utility systems with new and energy-efficient technologies. “These technologies not only reduce energy consumption and decrease carbon emissions but also lower maintenance costs, improve safety, enhance productivity, boost property valuations and also prolong the useful life of the assets and the building as a whole,” he says. “In a nutshell, we can say that OPEX of the building reduces and the asset value increases. Hence, it is becoming important day by day to retrofit buildings to not only make them more sustainable for the future but also to derive economical value by reducing the operational cost and, in turn, optimise the rentals and make them more lucrative for the tenants.”
Weighing in, Di Gregorio says that sustainable buildings often result in lower life cycle cost of the building itself. “If sustainability features are carefully selected, operational savings – in terms of energy and water usage and equipment maintenance – typically exceed any incremental investments that those features require,” he says. “For this reason, in a perfect market, where developers are able to fairly monetise their investments in higher quality buildings, we would expect for tenants any rent premiums for more sustainable buildings to be exceeded by the value of operational savings.”
Jha adds that as energy prices continue to rise, the relative benefits of energy efficiency will become increasingly important, and this is leading to a huge surge in demand for equipment, such as Smart LED lights and motion sensors, air curtains and FAHUs, energy-efficient AHUs, FCUs or split units and VAV systems. This has also led to greater demand for water usage reduction through the use of low-flow fixtures, sensors, waterless urinals and low-flush WCs, and also for photovoltaic panels on rooftops to generate electricity from the solar power, among other solutions.
A renewed focus on IAQ
While the return on investment (ROI) from retrofitting for energy efficiency is becoming clear, stakeholders are hopeful that the new wave of retrofits would also accommodate enhancements of indoor air quality (IAQ), which has been typically overlooked over the past years. Di Gregorio says that he believes this would be the case. “There is increasing interest in IAQ, partly driven by COVID-19 concerns,” he says. “Some awareness and technical barriers are there; nonetheless we foresee development in this area in the future.”
Jha shares a similar opinion. He says: “Fear of pandemic is looming large in the minds of the people, and therefore, while carrying out the retrofitting of their buildings, owners are ensuring that retrofit projects also take into consideration IAQ of the buildings, where people are currently spending more than 90% of their time and also to reduce the chances of contamination through virus, bacteria, moulds and fungi.”
Di Gregorio says there is a lot of focus on safety and security from building owners, particularly in what concerns disinfection of common areas. “This sometimes adds to other measures, like filtration, turning into improved air quality,” he says. Jha adds that some of the measures that building owners are taking include Demand Control Ventilation through C02 sensors, fitting volume control dampers, ultraviolet lamps in AHUs, ultraviolet germicide irradiation and MERV 13/14 filters. He further adds that there has been an increase in the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers to maintain humidity in the range of 40-60%, where the microbial and fungal growth is minimal.
Jha also says that the majority of the offices are allowing their staff to work from home and that people are spending more than 90% of their time indoors. “This further necessitates that apt measures are taken by the occupants to ensure proper lux levels, ergonomics and IAQ, as these will have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing and, in turn, impact their productivity,” he says. “Hence, there cannot be a better time than now to address the Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) issues, if any.” Jha says these are the factors driving a lot of investment being done by the property owners in the built-environment to retrofit their buildings to ensure proper IAQ against the traditional retrofit, where emphasis was mainly towards energy efficiency.
Making a case for retrofits
Keeping in mind the tangible and intangible benefits of retrofitting, Di Gregorio believes there is more than enough evidence to drive building owners to invest in such initiatives. “If building owners are not thinking about retrofits, they definitely should!” he says. “Retrofit projects tend to have very favourable returns. We are observing that for comprehensive retrofits of commercial buildings in Ras Al Khaimah, the payback time is 3-5 years. And the contracting standards that are being adopted often provide forms of guarantees for the investor on those returns.”
Jha, agreeing, says that in spite of the change in the occupancy profile of buildings, property owners must continue to retrofit within the built-environment. “Retrofitting of existing buildings offers tremendous opportunities for improving asset performance in terms of utilities,” he says. “Retrofitting also offers a potential upside in the overall performance of the building through improved energy efficiency, increased staff productivity, reduced maintenance costs, and better thermal comfort.” Jha believes that such key drivers should serve as a motivation and incentive for building owners, who are on the fence about investing in retrofit projects.
A complete 180
In view of the shifting political landscape, how will the new administration affect the country’s commitment to climate change mitigation?
It’s going to be a complete 180 from the [Donald] Trump administration. In [Joe] Biden’s plan, he mentions “a historic investment” in upgrading four million commercial buildings to return almost a quarter of the savings from retrofits to cash-strapped state and local governments. Specifically, it says that he will “mobilize a trained and skilled American workforce to manufacture, install, service and maintain high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems that run cleaner and less costly”.
Given our focus on energy savings, I think that this will be great for business as well as for building owners. Some suggest that large rebates may be involved to directly incentivise businesses and make it affordable to pursue these upgrades.
That being said, although the Trump administration was not at all focused on energy conservation, I found that individual building owners and managers were still pursuing these measures during the Trump administration. Most organisations in the US are interested in conserving energy and saving money. With government focus and incentives, it will just accelerate the demand.
In view of COVID-19, do you see a greater uptake of IAQ equipment throughout the country?
Yes, for sure. However, these things come with a cost, and with COVID destroying the economy, there is going to have to be some kind of funding or incentives given to get these types of retrofits in place. I will give you an example. Two of our clients in the US requested ultraviolet lighting proposals to be retrofitted into their air handlers and FCUs. We put together the proposals and delivered them; however, neither has been approved yet due to the difficulties these buildings are facing financially due to delinquent tenant rent payments and occupancy.
Another interesting fact is that most of these IAQ retrofits are not intended to deliver energy savings. That is another hurdle to getting these projects approved. One last point – and I don’t think this is limited to the US – customers in the UAE have also asked for ultraviolet lighting to be installed, and it is still difficult to get the approval here, for the same reasons mentioned earlier.
Has there been a heavier-than-usual concentration on the air side of things from building owners, tenants and manufacturers?
The EPA has recommended that guidance provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for managing IAQ during the current pandemic be followed. ASHRAE’s statement is as follows: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”
The two solutions we have seen implemented in the buildings we service in the USA are AHU filter upgrades and increasing the intake of outside air into the building. Both of these changes are very effective and relatively easy to implement as well as low cost.
How has the change in occupancy profile thrown everything into a state of chaos in terms of commercial and residential property requirements? Will this be a driving force towards more retrofit projects?
In terms of energy conservation measures, this has thrown everything into a state of chaos. One, the commercial buildings are hardly occupied, which has led to energy bills dropping dramatically. However, with less occupancy comes less rent, thus less money to invest in retrofit projects. In addition, building owners, who are still looking for energy savings, are hesitant to move forward, because they are not sure if and when tenants will be returning to the buildings, so to be honest, unless it’s a well-funded customer, this could actually slow the conservation efforts.
Residential buildings face the same issue. People are leaving the dense, populated cities, preferring the suburbs right now, leaving residential multi-family buildings unoccupied and no rents being paid. Until we get herd immunity with the vaccine, and people are comfortable returning to the cities to work and live, this will continue to be challenging.
How have these trends potentially influenced building owners?
As I stated earlier, most building owners are hesitant even if they want to move forward on new projects, given the current situation. However, some forward thinkers, with ability and the confidence that things will return to normal, are taking this time to invest in conservation efforts, so that when the buildings are occupied, they can take advantage of the maximum savings.
Have there been efforts to retrofit among specialised facilities such as healthcare?
At the moment, it is difficult to even get a meeting with a healthcare facility in the US. They are overwhelmed and have overcapacity with COVID patients and are focused on saving lives before anything else. Their priority right now is the conservation of life.
Has the pandemic finally trained the spotlight on the importance of having a balance between energy efficiency and IAQ?
I think that yes, people will be investing in IAQ, or at least investigating their options, especially healthcare facilities and the like. However, in my experience, to be honest, it’s a tough sale, unless there’s a Return on Investment (ROI) in the project. Having said that, UV lighting does have some energy-saving benefits, so maybe a combination of IAQ and energy savings should be highlighted to the building owners in the presentation of these retrofit solutions.
Retrofitting in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE
COVID-19 has had a significant adverse impact on organisations, people’s health, their livelihoods and the economy at large in the GCC region countries, says Ashok Jha, Head, FM & Retrofit Projects, Universal Voltas LLC. However, Jha is quick to point out that while the duration and severity of COVID-19’s impact on economies and sectors will undoubtedly vary, companies and governments in the GCC region have done well to set in motion a “look ahead, anticipate, innovate and adjust” roadmap, which has led the construction sector to focus on energy optimisation and retrofitting in existing buildings, which is a key to sustainable construction.
Citing figures from Global Data, a leading data and analytics company, Jha says that Oman’s construction industry contracted sharply in 2020, plummeting by nearly around -10.3%. “The industry is struggling with challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, low oil prices, and the impact of sovereign credit rating downgrades,” he says. Further compounding the downside risks to the outlook for the industry, the Omani Government has had to rationalise spending.”
Jha adds that given the limited prospects for the government to boost investment in infrastructure and other investment projects, a recovery in the construction sector is expected to be very slow. “Global Data currently expects the construction industry to fall further in 2021, with output contracting by -5.8%,” he says. “The fiscal plan by the Oman Government is intended to reduce public debt, increase the state’s reserves, and diversify revenue away from the oil sector.”
Owing to these factors, Jha believes that new construction spend will be very minimal, and more impetus will be on the retrofitting, deep retrofitting, fit-outs and energy performance optimisation in the built-environment in Oman.
Kuwait has faced similar challenges, Jha says, adding that the construction market shrunk in the year 2020 at about -9.5% approximately, as per Global Data. “The construction industry is struggling with the challenges presented by the outbreak of COVID-19, low oil prices and the impact of sovereign credit rating downgrades,” he says. “Because of this, focus is more towards existing buildings in Kuwait.”
Jha adds that within the built-environment in Kuwait, residential buildings constitute around 81%, commercial buildings are 11%, whereas government buildings constitute four per cent; the remaining four per cent includes commercial, industrial, agricultural and services. “Also, Kuwait has one of the highest per capita electricity consumption and carbon footprint globally, which further necessitates the retrofitting of the buildings to make them more sustainable,” he says. “All the above factors, along with the economic strain, is forcing Kuwait to focus on energy conservation, deep retrofitting, retrofitting and fit-outs in the built-environment with a very minimal spending on new construction.”
Sharing observations on the UAE market, in particular, Jha says that the COVID-19 outbreak, coupled with low oil prices, has led the construction output in the UAE to contract by nearly 4.8% in 2020, but that a rebound is expected in 2021, as per Global Data. “New project opportunities are expected to be minimal in the coming quarters, as the government is consolidating its widening fiscal debt and COVID-19-related force majeure,” he said. “Over the medium- to longer-term, government investment will remain focused on upgrading physical infrastructure and reforming the financing and regulatory environment.”
Jha adds that the UAE has set high targets for building retrofit, which are reflected in the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy. “The latter targets an overall 30% reduction in energy and water use by 2030,” he says. “To support this, Etihad ESCO aims to retrofit 30,000 buildings in the next 10 years and generate 1.68TWh energy savings and around 5.64 BIG of water savings by year 2030.”
‘The UAE leadership has a view of the future – and it is not just tomorrow’
Climate Ambassador Tomas Anker Christensen
Congratulations on your appointment as Denmark’s Climate Ambassador. Could you speak on the potential areas of cooperation between the UAE and Denmark?
I think it’s remarkable the far-sighted leadership the UAE has taken as an oil- and gas-producing country. The leaders have a view of the future – and the future that is not just tomorrow, not just five or 10 years, but they are thinking ahead to 20 or 50 years from now.
We are talking about the major transformation of energy systems. The largest solar farms in the world are in the UAE, and a lot of investment is being done in this area. The country is taking energy efficiency in buildings seriously and addressing the challenge of having had, years ago, the highest carbon footprint per inhabitant.
In that sense, cooperation between the UAE and Denmark on energy and other topics related to food and maritime issues makes imminent sense. We are the country in the EU with the largest oil -production. We have oil and gas in the North Sea. But we are slowly ending our exploration of that oil and gas, and in December 2020, the Danish Parliament decided to end fossil extraction in the North Sea by 2050 with a plan for the just transition of impacted workers and a conversion of the oil and gas fields to Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS)].
There is also a huge market for renewable energy, globally, as this transformation [can be seen] worldwide. In Denmark, we are building better and taller wind farms and offshore wind farms, including over the next two years in two new energy islands. As a result, there has been global interest surrounding Danish windfarm operators and wind constructors, many of whom are now in demand in a number of countries such as the US, Korea and Australia.
Could you speak more about the competitive advantage that countries such as the UAE can have from specialising in sustainable cooling solutions, both in terms of developing the expertise within the country and in terms of pioneering solutions? Do you see this to be a growing market?
The world is undergoing an energy transformation, and the UAE is also very well positioned to be part of it and, in some instances, to lead this transformation. As such, a partnership with a country like Denmark makes great sense.
When it comes to the development of cities, it’s clear that if you look at trends as a whole, [the population] is moving from the countryside to cities at an increased rate. I think the latest figures from UN Habitat and other global organisations is that almost half of the human population lives in cities. We have been going from 30-40% of the population to half, and the trajectory is pointing towards a world where most of the people are in cities.
There have been large movements in the Global South. In China, you have more than 70 cities with more than one million inhabitants, and many are newly constructed with poor quality of buildings that need to be retrofitted and rebuilt. In India, you have a growing middle-class population, and this has led to growth of new buildings in new cities or more modern buildings in new parts of the city. The same trend can be seen in the Gulf region. For a very long time, Dubai was home to most of the cranes in the world. In Africa, large cities that are already big, continue to grow. In Indonesia, we see a population in the process of moving Jakarta to a new island, because it is sinking.
Basically, in many places, the built-environment is not a done deal. We are at the beginning, not at the end. It’s only in older industrial countries in the West that the city structure is permanent. I would think the opportunities for both new buildings and retrofitting are very large, especially in warmer climates, where expertise is needed in challenging environments.
For us, in Denmark, it’s more about reverse engineering our experience with energy efficiency and insulation, and usinge and applying them in the UAE. Also, there would be solutions we need to develop from scratch, based on the circumstances and the physical environment.
It’s clear that cooling also has some attributes different from heating. [In Denmark], some companies are experimenting with district cooling, but most are district heating, with a lot of combined power and heat plants. Also, some of them are doing this with garbage waste disposal and heat and power. With the more recent climate law, because of the move towards circular economy, we are now looking at recycling and reusing our waste rather than incinerating it.
What can further drive the development of expertise and solutions in the sustainability arena in a country?
A combination of energy pricing and embedding efficiency in building codes and regulation by central and local governments are key here. The building owner and operator might not be interested in building more efficiently because of the perceived cost, and they will try to defer the cost onto the tenants. That means rent goes up, bills go up, and they are not too happy either. That’s always a question for the less well off, that’s also the question of the fair and equitable distribution of the cost and benefit, [[when it comes to implementing sustainable solutions.].
In Denmark, people have been investing in energy efficiency because of energy cost and due to strict regulation since the 1970’s. Because of the cost of energy, there are huge paybacks at a shorter time.
In what ways can the public sector in the GCC region incentivise sustainability initiatives in the built-environment, both in terms of introducing retrofit targets and also ensuring new buildings adhere to higher energy- efficiency goals?
For one, I would say that educating the general public is extremely important, in terms of the cost, economy, sustainability and potential social benefits.
The very practical education of engineers and economists, integrating energy efficiency into curricula in the built-environment, so that you have your own skilled engineers and technicians ¨to operate systems, do the buildings and learn from it. It is a mentality and way of thinking. We have done it for the last 50 or more years; we didn’t do it before that. It took us a long time and heavy regulation, strong incentives and a lot of private discussion among government and private sector and institutions of higher education to get that sector to operate in an efficient and integrated way. I would encourage public policy makers to think through different dimensions of how to establish a cluster of knowledge and expertise. The young students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and they have to make it work 10-15 years down the road.
Climate change and the larger picture of finances
Mayor James Brainard
Q&A: James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, United States
We have succeeded admirably in our fight against the depletion of the ozone layer through collective effort, through a cohesive, consensus-based approach of finding economically and technically sound alternatives to ozone-depleting refrigerants. How much confidence do you take from what has been a marvellous example of social cooperation?
We did the summit in the form of the Montreal Protocol over concerns of huge spike in cancer deaths, so it was a great example of world leaders coming together to study a problem, devise a solution and then go back to their countries to fix the problem. It shows diplomacy and recognition of common challenges can be good.
In the same way, could we not find a financially feasible, well-structured long-term plan to curb the widespread misuse of energy and general profligacy through steady and substantial investment in the infrastructure needed to achieve the goal?
You have identified the problem in the question, and we have to find the means of accomplishing this. We have to look at the larger picture of finances – the health impact of pollution; the cost of famines; the cost of relocation, if we have a rise in sea level, leading to the displacement of people from major cities; and the cost of possible conflicts arising out of this. But more specifically, we need to recognize many jobs are dependent on the fossil fuel industry. So, we can make those changes, but we have to recognize that we need to look out for investment of industry, we still need to fly airplanes. But, we have a saying in the US, ‘low- hanging fruit’. So, there are many easy things we can do to clean the environment and reduce fossil fuel use, and those are what we can focus on with recognising that we have to protect people’s jobs in the fossil fuel industry and that many are invested in the fossil fuel industry.
Would an approach of self-financing the fight against global warming by developing an energy budget in every city, town, state and country across the world be a possible way out, as propounded by George Berbari, the CEO of DC Pro Engineering? I am referring to a structured, long-term carrot-and-stick approach, where individuals and organisations occupying residential and commercial buildings could be rewarded for being energy efficient and penalised for being inefficient, with the penalty being slightly higher than the reward to create a positive budget, a surplus, which could be used for giving rebates to homeowners for improving insulation, glazing, etc., for developing infrastructure to lower primary energy use, for building thermal energy networks, even District Energy schemes… anything that would effectively fight climate change.
I think it would help. The colloquial shotgun approach, where we undertake to do a lot of small things. I think your idea of financial incentives and disincentives is good; and tied to that what needs to happen is disincentives need to increase over time and incentives need to go up and come down. It is certainly a system we need today. You could still pass laws, where each year, the incentives and disincentives change, to encourage disincentives to go up and incentives to go away. The tax system is also there. Or, it could be a separate tax, a carbon tax, and it has been discussed here since the late 1980s.
Economists believe such an approach to conserving primary energy is feasible, but democratically elected local and federal government leaders and local mayors have limited terms and, generally speaking, give priority to short-term problems, the solving of which gives them immediate political benefits, as opposed to decades-long and daunting task of curbing energy use through a financial mechanism and other initiatives, which might also be viewed by the city’s inhabitants that make the electorate, as adding to existing costs and impairing their personal and corporate competitiveness. In your case, you are one of the longest-serving mayors in the state, having been in office since 1996 over seven consecutive terms. Did that give you a canvas to paint a long-term vision? How effective was the approach? Did it help you shape regulation and enforcement at a city level? Were you able to raise greater awareness on the human impact on climate change and bring about a consensus-based change in energy use behaviour in Carmel?
We are a suburb of Indianapolis, which has a population of two million people. We are 100,000 people in Carmel. Now, places like Dubai and Doha require automobiles, owing to the urban sprawl. Generally, we need the automobile to go anywhere. We have looked at the problem and have a series of PPPs, where one can live, work, go to restaurant and engage in recreational activities without having to get into an automobile and, as a result, lower the consumption of fuel.
The average American spends two hours a day in automobiles, but in Carmel, businesses, houses, schools are all here. We have adopted land use development differently, so people can live, work and go to a restaurant all in the same area, and we tried to design our downtown not for automobiles, and it has cut down fuel use. In Carmel, it is 15 minutes to half an hour of automobile use per person, so it is much, much less [than the national average].
We have a legal structure in the state of Indiana that makes decisions on building codes, and they have done less than what I would like to see, but we have contract to have a much more efficient build. We have the example of the Energy Center in Carmel. We have cold winters and hot summers in Carmel, and we are using energy all year long to either heat or cool our buildings. And if you have an individual heating or cooling system, it starts and stops and is energy inefficient. And so, we have developed the Energy Center in the city, and it uses 50% less energy. And we would like to see this being applied across the city.
If energy is scarce and its excessive use damaging to the environment, should people be allowed to consume as much as they want to, as long as they are paying for it? Should affordability be a sole factor? Could we change that mindset and, at the same time, take care not to infringe on personal freedom and quality of life?
I have thought about it, and I believe in a capitalistic and free market approach. And there is a way to fix it, which is you pay USD 10, say, for 100 units of use, USD 15 for the next 100 units, and USD 20 for the next 100 units. And so the more you use, the higher the price. And it is a good system, because it penalizes the people to use it, and at the same time, they have the freedom to use it. In the case of steel production, maybe that may be very important for the economy and jobs, and so there should be a different model. You have to look at the situation where we can improve the environment, decrease carbon and increase quality of life.
Have you established a carbon neutrality goal for Carmel, like Copenhagen, for instance, where we are seeing a consensus-based approach involving all political parties, underpinned by the thought process that environmental action needs to be bipartisan in nature? Or are the political dynamics different in the United States?
It’s a good question. Our city is mainly Republican, and is fiscally and economically conservative. Some years ago, a seven-member council introduced a carbon neutrality goal, which is not mandated, however. We know we will get there, because the technology is there. It is not time bound. It is a legislative body that passed a law that laid out a carbon neutrality goal.
We have been measuring progress in reducing carbon. Every year, we are measuring how much energy the city is using on a per capita basis, because the city is growing. I don’t know if we have done enough yet, but we are making progress. I firmly believe technology will save us.
The fight against climate change needs to be a non-partisan effort within cities, states and nations. What we have seen is a vastly polarising view within the United States. With Joe Biden set to take the reins, how soon can we expect to see the United States aligning itself in a more profound manner to the Paris Agreement?
I am a Republican, and my undergraduate degree was in history, so I tend to think not today but historically. At the turn of the century, Ted Roosevelt, a Republican, set aside millions of acres in the US for the National Parks system. And President Eisenhower in 1952 established the Arctic Reserve in Alaska, and he was Republican, as well. And President Nixon was the one who set up the federal EPA. Republicans signed a law that amended our Clean Water Act. They passed a whole series of environmental laws. President Reagan led on the Montreal Protocol for the ozone protection initiative. George HW Bush and George Bush came from a state that produces a lot of oil, and yet they established a system of hundreds of windmills. Over 120 years, Republicans and Democrats have come together in a non-partisan manner. And they will come back; this anomaly has been only for a sort period of time. Clean air and water are non-partisan issues. Disagreement will come only in terms of jobs.
On December 11, 2020, the United States observed a new daily death record of 3,055 individuals, more than the number of people who died in Pearl Harbour or the September 11 attacks on the twin towers in New York City. The coronavirus cases have risen sharply in Carmel, as they have elsewhere in Indiana and across the country. What measures have you taken in Carmel to safeguard residents through better indoor air quality (IAQ), with science advocating more fresh air changes and maintaining Relative Humidity between 40% and 60% in buildings?
I think one good thing that has come from the pandemic is recognition of IAQ being important, and there are great many entrepreneurs in the US selling systems that clean the air. Our City Hall operates a new system that every few minutes recycles the air and filters and cleans the air in the building; and it is energy efficient. And building owners throughout the US are adopting this. I see this as a positive thing that has emerged.
I have put a taskforce in Carmel. We also have generated messages through emails and print newsletters and social media. We have used an entire gamut of ways to talk to people, not just about IAQ but also about things to do to handle the pandemic in a better way. Our city had done a good job till the first week of October, testing and quarantining people. It worked through summer, but when people came indoors when the temperatures fell, it went bad. We had our first set of vaccinations, yesterday (the interview with Mayor Brainard took place on December 15), so we hope to be in good shape by March or April 2021.
There are those that are saying building industry stakeholders simply need to reverse the polarity on their thinking when it comes to budgeting for indoor air quality and that we need to raise buildings fit for purpose.
Yes, it’s a good point. Energy for buildings is important, but I think IAQ is something that would work very well. We have tax incentive to make buildings more energy efficient, and over time if building owners do not take action, a penalty would start; and simultaneously, there will be a reduction in taxes for people who make more energy-efficient buildings. And that puts the burden away from the average taxpayer. Yes, I do believe in an incentive and disincentive system for establishing good IAQ.
AESG in global expansion drive with 45% growth target for 2021
Saeed Al Abbar
Dubai, UAE, 06 January 2021: Consultancy, engineering and advisory firm, AESG announced the appointment of global directors for each of its lines of business, as well as the expansion of the role of the company co-founder, Saeed Al Abbar, to group-wide CEO. Making the announcement through a Press release, the firm said the move follows the establishment of offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, and successful delivery of large-scale projects across the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The consolidation of service teams under unified global divisions, AESG said, will enable it to deploy the best skills and resources from all its international offices on projects worldwide.
Outlining how this strategy bolsters the company’s ambitious plans for the upcoming year, Al Abbar said: “2021 is set to be a significant growth year for AESG, as we build on the momentum we have established. While the Middle East will remain a focal market for us, we are also seeing steady growth in our business in the UK and Europe, as well as a surge in opportunities in Asia. Our reorganization perfectly positions us to capitalize on these opportunities, as we draw on the brightest and most qualified talent from each market to drive our success across the vast geography of our operations.”
AESG said that under the direction of its newly appointed global directors it is looking to further grow its teams. The company said it has budgeted for a 45% increase in headcount, with the objective of scaling to 140 professionals through 2021. The company also revealed its intention to replicate in Asia the strategy that has proven highly successful in the Middle East and Europe by establishing a regional headquarters in Singapore.
AESG said its newly appointed global directors will be tasked with leading teams, driving the growth of their service lines and ensuring best practices are implemented across regions. Two AESG Global Directors have been promoted from within the company, with Phillipa Grant and Nivine Issa now taking on the roles of Global Director of Sustainability and Global Director of Environment, respectively. Grant and Issa have also taken up equity partnership in the firm, demonstrating their long-term commitment to AESG and highlighting the company’s leadership in gender equality in the field.
With its appointment of Peter Downer to the position of Global Director of Fire and Life Safety, AESG said it is also looking to draw from the experience and expertise of a business leader who has worked with large multinational construction consultancy firms. An industry veteran of over 35 years – 15 of which have been in senior leadership positions – Downer has worked extensively on projects across the Middle East, Asia and Australia, AESG said. Prior to joining AESG, he served as the Senior VP at Jensen Hughes, where he led the Asia region, which included offices in China, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
Al Abbar said: “AESG has successfully navigated the challenges of 2020, and as developers look to enhance and optimize the efficiency, sustainability, safety and manageability of their investments, our comprehensive portfolio of specialist services is now more relevant than ever. We maintain a highly optimistic outlook with confidence that our commitment to maintaining service excellence through our ongoing expansion will further validate our position as a leading global consultancy firm.”
GEA wins at RAC Cooling Industry Awards
The GEA Grasso Conversion Kit (GGCK) at the North Yorkshire site. Photo courtesy GEA
DUESSELDORF, Germany, 18 December 2020: GEA won in the ‘Contractor of the Year 2020’ category at the RAC Cooling Industry Awards, on December 9. In addition, GEA received a “highly commended” rating in the ‘Building Energy Project of the Year’ category, during a pandemic-induced virtual ceremony, organised and conducted by the British Refrigeration & Air Conditioning magazine (RAC), the company said through a Press release.
According to GEA, the award recognises companies that have made a special commitment to environmentally friendly and innovative solutions in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
GEA bagged the ‘Contractor of the Year’ award for implementing the Quorn Foods project, which the company said involved installing a new compressor to improve performance – in parallel with replacing a faulty refrigeration system during a planned shutdown at the food manufacturer’s plant at its site in North Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. The customer, as well as the judges of the RAC Cooling Industry Awards, were delighted with the solution it provided, GEA claimed. By investing in a GEA Grasso Conversion Kit (GGCK), Quorn Foods benefited from a larger compressor that replaced ageing equipment and increased cooling capacity by an additional seven per cent, GEA said. This not only improved the site’s efficiency, but also resulted in energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint, GEA claimed. GEA said it also upgraded the existing control system with a new OMNI Retrofit Panel control (GORP). The control and management system ensures optimal operation of the plant, it added.
Throughout the installation, the GEA Refrigeration Technologies team worked under great time pressure, with only 10 days available for all the work, GEA said, adding that it successfully completed the project in just five days and, as a result, Quorn Foods was able to restart production without interrupting the plant’s workflow.
GEA said the RAC Cooling Industry Awards judges praised its strong commitment at the awards. “GEA demonstrated great foresight and found a cost-effective solution for the customer within the given timeframe through its great expertise and decades of experience in refrigeration,” GEA quoted the judges as saying. “Furthermore, GEA also took the opportunity to improve the flexibility of the plant’s operation and realized energy savings.”
GEA said the jury of the Awards also praised its project for the Scottish premium ice cream manufacturer, Mackie’s, offering GEA a “Highly Commended” recognition for executing the project.
The Mackie’s project saw GEA replace the existing freezer at the ice cream maker’s Aberdeenshire plant with a design using an ammonia and CO2 low-carbon, energy-efficient cooling system to work alongside an absorption chiller. It was the first large-scale ice cream production plant in Scotland to combine biomass heat and absorption cooling, GEA said. The solution, it added, helped Mackie’s achieve its plan and ambitious target of CO2 reductions of 90% and energy cost savings of 70-80%
Mackie’s Aberdeenshire plant. Photo courtesy GEA
The design and construction of a new building or urban area is a highly complex project, which needs to take into account a plethora of considerations, including safety, durability, aesthetics, energy efficiency, sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
One critical concern is pedestrian wind comfort. The fact that a new structure impacts the microclimate in its vicinity makes wind engineering a serious application to pay attention to for many architects, civil engineers and urban planners.
Depending on its shape, height and location, a building can have a positive or negative impact on wind direction, wind speed, radiation, air pollution and more. Increased wind speeds, for example, is a common phenomenon that appears at the pedestrian level around a high-rise or buildings characterised by a complex shape.
Flatiron Building, New York City
A famous example is the Flatiron Building, in New York City, between East 22nd and East 23rd streets. The building splits Broadway and Fifth Avenue and sits at the end of an open passageway created by Madison Square Park, in the north. Due to the geography of its location, the wind currents around the building can be treacherous. The layout of the area, combined with the shape of the building, can create unpredictable gusts of wind, which are uncomfortable for pedestrians. This is actually one of the reasons the building has become so famous since its construction in 1902. The building had raised fears that the structural system would not be able to endure the wind loads, but this has not been the case. The engineers designed it to endure winds four times stronger than are generated on site. Owing to the building’s shape, wind currents from the leading edge of the building move in a vortex pattern in both up and down directions. Nevertheless, pedestrian wind comfort does remain an issue for the iconic building and is a lesson for all new construction projects.
Along with pedestrian comfort, wind safety is even more important, with reports showing cases of serious injuries and even deaths caused by high wind speed in urban areas.
In most countries, construction projects require compliance with a wind engineering standard, such as NEN 8100 for wind nuisance and ASCE 7 for wind loads.
Assessment of pedestrian wind comfort with online CFD simulation (Source: SimScale)
In complying with these standards and ensuring pedestrian safety and comfort, engineering solutions are indispensable. Wind tunnel testing and numerical simulation with CFD are the tools used to investigate wind flow around a building configuration or a built-environment.
Wind effects to consider in urban planning
The most important considerations and wind effects in assessing pedestrian wind comfort are corner acceleration, Venturi or channeling effect, downwash effect and passages.
The corners of buildings are the regions that can create the highest discomfort in a built-environment, especially if high-rise buildings are present. The phenomenon of corner acceleration is caused by sharp building shapes, which can cause accelerations around the corners even for oblique winds. Further effects, like the side vortices, can be created from the difference in pressure between the front (with high pressure) and the sides (with low pressure) of the building. In these regions, wind engineering experts recommend not placing any gardens or public spaces, to ensure wind comfort and safety.
CFD simulation showing an example of corner acceleration around buildings (Source: SimScale)
The Venturi effect (or channeling effect) is the reduction in wind pressure, which happens when wind flows through a constricted area between two buildings, which results in wind acceleration through this channel. This effect can create high winds, which can be unsafe for pedestrians.
CFD simulation showing an example of Venturi or channeling effect between buildings (Source: SimScale)
The downwash effect is mainly caused by tall buildings, which capture winds at higher levels and redirect them to the ground. This causes a three-dimensional flow moving downwards and often creating a large recirculation at the ground level, together causing increased wind activity.
The fourth effect, passages, can create a high amplification factor and a strong wind jet, which forms when the flow with high pressure from the stagnation side tries to escape through the passage.
CFD simulation showing an example of downwash and another 3D effect between buildings (Source: SimScale)
This article presents a comparison between a CFD simulation study, created by online simulation provider SimScale and experimental results taken from the Guidebook for Practical Applications of CFD to Pedestrian Wind Environment around Buildings, published by the Architectural Institute of Japan (AIJ) in 2008. The guidebook sets the standards for cross-comparison between the results of CFD predictions, wind tunnel tests and field measurements, and is helpful in determining the accuracy of CFD codes for pedestrian wind comfort assessments.
Wind comfort validation study with SimScale online CFD simulation (Source: SimScale)
With the construction industry constantly growing, technological advancements are the driving force behind better urban designs, dedicated to a higher standard of living and increased comfort for residents and pedestrians.
Wind engineering is integrated into a multidisciplinary approach to building design and construction projects. In this set-up, CFD simulation and wind tunnel studies are key solutions in ensuring pedestrian wind comfort and safety. With the emergence of cloud-based simulation software, this technology is becoming more accessible than ever before. Right on time for a new era in urban planning – the future is now.
The writer is Team Manager, Application Engineering, SimScale.
ASHRAE publishes new guideline for Historic Buildings
Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 21 April 2019: ASHRAE has published a new guideline for increasing energy efficiency in historic buildings while minimising the disturbance of the building’s historic character and materials. ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019, ‘Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings’, provides comprehensive and detailed descriptions of the processes and procedures for the retrofitting of historic buildings to achieve greater measured efficiency, ASHRAE said through a Press communiqué. The guideline is particularly aimed at providing guidance for ‘listed’ historic buildings – that is those formally designated or eligible to be designated as historically significant by a governing body, the communiqué announced.
Guideline 34, the communiqué said, provides a step-by-step procedure for sensitive energy upgrading, beginning with forming the project team and gathering building and energy use histories, to instituting energy-efficiency measures (EEM). Building envelope improvements, environmental control strategies, energy system analysis, HVAC selection and lighting design considerations are all addressed in the guideline. All recommendations are made in consideration of preserving the integrity of the historically valuable building character, materials and associated artifacts.
“The committee members writing this guideline are exceptionally knowledgeable about the special issues related to historic buildings and the care needed to preserve them,” said 2018-2019 ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter, P.E., who also served as chair of the international guideline committee. “The committee’s intent was to provide guidance for worldwide communities and specifically for entire project teams – not just engineers.”
Many historic buildings were constructed without insulation and designed without active air conditioning systems – especially for mechanical cooling. Retrofitting such buildings requires specialised techniques during construction and operation, as well as sensitivity to respecting and preserving historical significance. With nearly two-thirds of existing buildings estimated to still be in service by 2050, project teams retrofitting any historic building for energy efficiency can benefit from the content of the guideline.
IRENA report charts pathways to further accelerate energy transformation
Berlin, Germany, 14 April 2019 – As the urgency to take bold climate action grows, new analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds that scaling up renewable energy, combined with electrification, could deliver more than three quarters of the energy-related emission reductions needed to meet global climate goals. According to the latest edition of IRENA’s Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, launched earlier in the month at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, pathways to meet 86% of global power demand with renewable energy exist. Electricity would cover half of the global final energy mix. Global power supply would more than double over this period, with the bulk of it generated from renewable energy, mostly solar PV and wind.
“The race to secure a climate safe future has entered a decisive phase,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “Renewable energy is the most effective and readily available solution for reversing the trend of rising CO2 emissions. A combination of renewable energy with a deeper electrification can achieve 75% of the energy-related emission reduction needed.”
According to the report, an accelerated energy transition in line with the Roadmap 2050 would also save the global economy up to USD 160 trillion, cumulatively over the next 30 years in avoided health costs, energy subsidies and climate damages. Every dollar spent on energy transition would pay off up to seven times, the report said. The global economy would grow by 2.5 per cent in 2050. However, climate damages can lead to significant socioeconomic losses, the report added.
“The shift towards renewables makes economic sense,” La Camera said. “By mid-century, the global economy would be larger, and jobs created in the energy sector would boost global employment by 0.2 per cent. Policies to promote a just, fair and inclusive transition could maximise the benefits for different countries, regions and communities. This would also accelerate the achievement of affordable and universal energy access. The global energy transformation goes beyond a transformation of the energy sector. It is a transformation of our economies and societies.”
But action is lagging, the report said. While energy-related CO2 emissions continued to grow by over one per cent annually on average in the last five years, emissions would need to decline by 70% below their current level by 2050 to meet global climate goals. This calls for a significant increase in national ambition and more aggressive renewable energy and climate targets.
IRENA’s roadmap recommends that national policy should focus on zero-carbon, long-term strategies. It also highlights the need to boost and harness systemic innovation. This includes fostering smarter energy systems through digitalisation as well as the coupling of end-use sectors, particularly heating and cooling and transport, via greater electrification, promoting decentralisation and designing flexible power grids.
“The energy transformation is gaining momentum, but it must accelerate even faster,” La Camera said. “The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the review of national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement are milestones for raising the level of ambition. Urgent action on the ground at all levels is vital, in particular unlocking the investments needed to further strengthen the momentum of this energy transformation. Speed and forward-looking leadership will be critical – the world in 2050 depends on the energy decisions we take today.”
ENGIE announces new version of the Quantum Air
Lindau, Germany, 14 April 2019: ENGIE Refrigeration is redesigning its entire air-cooled Quantum series, the company said through a Press communiqué. The new Quantum air models will be available worldwide from June 24, the company added through the communiqué.
“The requirements for the refrigeration industry have changed in recent years,” said Jochen Hornung, CEO, ENGIE Refrigeration. “Our customers are placing increasing value on greater efficiency and performance in their chillers, for example. We are accommodating these changing conditions by redesigning our air-cooled QUANTUM series.”
Jochen Hornung, CEO, ENGIE Refrigeration
On the launch date, ENGIE Refrigeration will offer 28 basic models of the Quantum Air. Fourteen of these models use the refrigerant R-1234ze, and 14 models use the refrigerants R-134a and R-513A; all of them require lower quantities of refrigerant, the communiqué said. Like its predecessor model, the revised chiller is ideal for use in a variety of industries – from automotive manufacturers and suppliers to the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry, industrial production and data centres, the communiqué said.
According to the communiqué, customers will benefit from additional important advantages in the future – ENGIE Refrigeration has combined the individual machine components in a new way, so that the Quantum Air surpasses even the exceedingly high efficiency of the current series. The chiller is also suitable for applications from 250 kilowatts to two megawatts, the communiqué quoted the company as saying, adding that with this refrigeration capacity, the Quantum Air outperforms not only its predecessor but also all air-cooled chillers from other manufacturers that are currently on the market.
Highview Power, TSK enter JV to develop cryogenic energy storage projects
LONDON and MADRID, 14 April 2019: Highview Power, which provides long-duration energy storage solutions, and TSK, a global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company headquartered in Spain, have entered into an agreement to co-develop gigawatt-hour scale, long-duration energy storage systems using Highview Power’s proprietary cryogenic energy storage solution, Highview said through a Press communiqué.
The new joint-venture company, named Highview TSK, will commit to the development of multiple projects in Spain, the Middle East and South Africa, the communiqué announced. An initial number of projects have been identified for several GWh of clean energy storage to be developed from 2019 through 2022, the communiqué said.
“We are thrilled to be working with a global EPC company of TSK’s caliber,” said Javier Cavada, CEO, Highview Power. “They have an impressive track record of deploying large-scale energy projects around the world, and we are excited to work with them to deploy our cryogenic technology. This partnership with TSK will help Highview Power accelerate momentum for our cryogenic energy storage systems in global markets and is ideal for applications like renewable energy shifting, enabling wind and solar for baseload generation, and hybridising cryogenic storage plants with traditional thermal generation systems.”
Joaquín García Rico, CEO, TSK, said: “After looking at a number of storage technologies, we have come to the conclusion that Highview’s cryogenic energy storage is the ideal solution to deliver long-duration, large-scale storage services to our customers. The technology is not only cost effective, it is also scalable, clean, has a long lifespan and can be deployed now. As a result of the joint capabilities of Highview Power and TSK, we expect to progressively grow our footprint and sales to reach target revenues of over 1 billion euro by 2021.”
According to the communiqué, Highview’s cryogenic systems are the only long-duration energy storage solution available today that are locatable and offer multiple gigawatt-hours of storage. That represents weeks’ worth of storage, not just hours or days. Grid operators are turning to long-duration energy storage to help improve power generation economics, balance the grid and increase reliability. At giga-scale, energy storage resources paired with renewables are equivalent in performance to – and could replace – thermal and nuclear baseload in addition to supporting the electricity transmission and distribution systems while providing additional security of supply.
TSK, the communiqué said, has constructed more than 20 GW of generation projects across 35 countries and brings extensive experience in both traditional energy generation and renewable projects, such as solar, wind and biomass, including more than 10 energy storage projects. According to the communiqué, Highview Power has developed the ideal long-duration energy storage technology for large-scale applications with its cryogenic energy storage technology and brings a skilled team that has developed over $13 billion in energy and infrastructure projects. Combined, the Highview TSK team will have over 1,000 skilled engineers and project managers to execute long-duration energy storage projects in its target markets, from their offices in Gijón, Madrid, Cologne, London and New York, the communiqué said.
Highview Power, the communiqué said, has already built and connected two cryogenic energy storage plants to the UK grid. The first plant was commissioned in 2014 in Slough, Greater London, with a capacity of 2.5 MWh, while in 2018, the world’s largest liquid air energy storage plant was inaugurated in Bury, Greater Manchester, with a capacity of 15 MWh, the communiqué said. The Bury plant shows in real time how cryogenic energy storage provides all possible balancing services, including Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) and supports the grid during winter peaks, the communiqué said. Highview is currently developing several large projects that will be hundreds of MWhs in scale across the United States and Europe, the company claimed through the communiqué.
Besides being the most suitable solution to balance renewables and enable reliable renewable baseload power, cryogenic energy storage plants support and accelerate the energy transition when combined with traditional thermal power plants, the communiqué said. The plants can optimise operations utilising waste heat and cold into their process, which enables even more affordable and sustainable power production, the communiqué said.
As markets around the world focus on drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions, there is an accelerated shutdown of traditional coal-fired power stations and massive deployment of intermittent renewable energy plants (mostly solar PV and wind), the communiqué said. This is causing grid reliability issues that are dependent on weather conditions, which drives demand of long-duration energy storage in all major geographic markets in order to ensure a stable and reliable grid. When shutting down and dismantling old power stations, the existing infrastructure and connections left behind become the perfect location to install cryogenic energy storage plants, solving the challenge of integrating massive amounts of renewables while retiring traditional assets.
A case of the market moving ahead of policy
North America generally does not shy away from participating in the dialogue on sustainability, with a number of well-known organisations, certification bodies and manufacturers paving the way for initiatives that promote greater energy efficiency within the built environment, not only across the continent but worldwide.
James K. Walters, Vice President, International Affairs, Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), in identifying trends across North America, states that the work of standardisation bodies in this regard and the uptake of programmes, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) have helped moved the dial towards a more integrated approach in addressing building requirements. “We are supportive of climate change mitigation efforts,” Walters states. “We are supportive of rational energy-efficiency standards and of approaching them holistically.”
Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO, United States Green Building Council (USBC), believes that the trend towards more efficient buildings will persist, despite the viewpoint of incumbent powers, emphasising that policy decisions are no longer the sole driver impacting the progress of “Green”. As many as “88 of the Fortune 100 companies have mandated LEED as their global Green Building rating system,” he says. “It is a market-driven tool and a voluntary management tool – it’s not regulation.” Ramanujam says this extends to government organisations, with 400 municipalities, 32 states and 15 federal agencies in the United States mandating and recommending LEED as a best guideline and practice protocol. “This means two decades worth of change management that has happened, globally,” he says. “It has been integrated as part of the core strategy. Sustainability is no longer about being a nice thing to do.”
Giorgio Elia, Vice President, UTC CCS Middle East, shares the company’s history with LEED in this regard. “Carrier was the first company to join the U.S. Green Building Council in 1993,” Elia says, “and is the only company to be a founding member of Green Building councils on four continents, including in Argentina, China, France, India, Kuwait, Singapore and South Africa.” Carrier in the Middle East, he adds, is licensed as an Education Partner to train in the LEED curriculum and has trained more than 500 people in the region. Carrier’s Middle East headquarters in the UAE, he adds, is certified LEED Gold, while Carrier Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah office is certified LEED Platinum.
Providing a manufacturer’s perspective, Saad Ali, General Manager – Middle East and Africa, SPX Cooling Technologies, says LEED certification is frequently a goal of designers of many North American buildings. He says: “Energy savings is a key driver for many companies, as well, so power consumption is declining. The impact of that will be evident in the next couple of years. Changes in government policies could impact these initiatives with fewer energy credits and subsidy programs available to companies for producing energy-efficient products for the market. But I think overall support for energy-efficient products will continue.”
Regulations no longer seem to be a pre-requisite to encourage uptake and investment in energy-efficient technology, as James L. Connaughton, President and CEO, Nautilus Data Technologies, says. As an “ardent practitioner of free market environmentalism”, he believes a better product will always win out in the end. Connaughton, however, believes while government policy is not needed to encourage acceptance and investment of better products and solutions, it can play a role in hindering its advancement. This, he says, can happen by taking too long to permit more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies [to enter the market] and subsidising inefficient competitors. “That,” he says, “would not be helpful because government is providing our competitors with the economic advantage to improve their facilities.” Connaughton adds that while energy-efficiency standards are helpful in driving consumers and investors, they tend to work in favour of the incumbent. Thus, he says, they have to be designed appropriately so they can drive faster investment in economically beneficial outcomes and accomplish its objectives.
Ali says that while the rollback of some EPA clean energy rules by the current administration has caused headlines, it hasn’t deterred companies that develop HVAC products from continuing to pursue new technologies. “The recent paradigm shift in lighting serves as an example,” he says. “The introduction of LEDs as replacements for traditional incandescent light bulbs met with some consumer resistance. New technologies are often more expensive until they gain traction and acceptance.”
Kit Fransen, Director, Product Management, North America, Tecumseh, adds: “It’s no secret that there has been a shift in how buildings operate, as well as how people live and work in them. The sustainability movement is becoming more mainstream every day and plenty of manufacturers, including Tecumseh, look to reduce their overall environmental footprint, because it is shown to be profitable and drives innovation.” LEED and Green Globes, he says, are just a few programmes that were niche but now have become standard place in most building designs “as you can see with the continued integration of their requirements into ASHRAE or other international standards”. Fransen adds: “To meet these needs, manufacturers and end-users are now making investments with natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons that require significant investment to operate equipment efficiently and safely. Before LEED or other ‘Green Building’ type standards, most people did not connect the dots regarding how much time we spend in commercial and industrial facilities that can impact our health as well as the world around us.” Ramanujam adds: “In the United States, Republicans and Democrats have disagreements on climate change and ‘Green’, but our growth was strong [even] during the Republican presidency. I’m hoping in the current trend we will grow more. Why? Because it provoked individual engagement, and that is what we are looking for.” LEED, he says, is about taking responsibility and accountability in saying “I want to go further and beyond”. Ramanujam says: “We don’t want somebody to tell us a regulation. We are going to do it, because we believe in it and we are going to push the envelope further. In a subtle way, it’s a good thing for the market, because people are going to do something about it.”
By popular demand
The market does, indeed, seem to be doing something about it, with manufacturers reporting an uptake in consumers showing more willingness to invest in a more efficient technology.
Ali emphasises that technological advancements owing to countries’ efforts to reduce reliance on petrochemicals inevitably cascades to other industries, especially HVAC, which, he stresses, is a high priority for building owners, given that it consumes as much as 70% of energy in commercial buildings. “Every consumer is looking for efficient HVAC units, with the best coefficient of performance and the least energy cost,” he says. “While environmental impact may not be their first consideration, some consumers want to balance energy efficiency with sustainability. Consumers are protected to some degree by regulations that restrict the use of refrigerants that damage the environment and so they know that available products must comply with a range of environmental standards.”
Robert Presser, Vice President, Acme Engineering and GlobeOwl Solutions, also says that he has seen more focus being placed on high-efficiency motors and VAV fans. “Twenty-five years ago, people will look at an air-handling unit and ask, ‘How many cfns?’ Now they look at an AHU and ask, ‘What is my cost to operate this?’ More than the acquisition, stakeholders are looking at life-cycle and operation.” This, he says, comes from building owners paying more attention, as there would be no incentive to choose such products unless otherwise specified.
Rakesh Saxena, President, Trimac Inc., says there has been an increasing demand for proper sealing of ductwork from building owners and mechanical HVAC construction engineers in North America. The current ASHRAE standard No. 90.1, he says, notes the impact of duct leakage on energy consumption and IAQ. “ASHRAE standards require a duct to be sealed to the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s Seal Class A regardless of pressure,” he says. “This means that all seams, except spiral lock seams, joints and penetration in medium- and low-pressure, return and exhaust ductwork must be properly sealed.”
Speaking on increasing emphasis for energy efficient equipment in new build specifications, Dean Wood, Sales and Marketing Manager, Envira- North Systems, says HVLS fans are a common inclusion in all commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. “More than anything local regulations and cost savings drive designs and purchasing decisions,” he says, adding that the company’s products have gone from a “possible inclusion to an integral component of most specifications”.
Stuart Engel, International Business Development, Fresh-Aire UV, says that owing to greater emphasis on energy conversation there has been an uptake in using UV to irradiate the cooling coils in HVAC applications. “Design engineers have realised that by including UV to irradiate cooling coils the end-user can benefit from the fact that the coils will remain clean and not become blocked by biofilm growing,” he says.
Walter Ellis, Executive Vice President and General Manager, RGF Environmental Group, echoes this. “Studies show the correlation of continuous UV treatment of coil surfaces to prevent microbial fouling of the coils,” he says, “and how this technology,in turn, reduces the associated loss of heat transfer efficiency due to the bio-fouled coils. As well as energy-recovery systems specific for fresh air makeup systems. These are primarily focused on industrial and commercial markets, with some more progressive adoption in the consumer market.” Engel says, “Depending on the cost of electricity, installing UV on cooling coils can save between 15 and 25% of the annual HVAC energy cost and virtually eliminate having to manually clean the coils. Payback time for installing UV will depend in part on the cost of power, annual operating and cooling hours and will normally be between two and 11 months.”
Sean Holloway, National Sales Manager HVACR, RectorSeal LLC, says the company continues to see greater emphasis towards energy efficiency across North America, in particular, for variable-speed compressors for residential applications, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology for commercial applications, and mini-split applications for both residential and light-commercial applications. The company, he says, is aiming to address the demand by helping contractors with accessories to encourage building and homeowners to opt for mini-split and VRF/VRV systems. “More and more individuals,” he says, “are willing to pay more up front, for higher efficiency equipment in order to use less energy, and have less negative impact on the environment in the long run.”
Fransen says that while the past decade has seen Energy Star, LEED, and other programmes push for lower energy use intensity (EUI) in all building types, reduction in energy use for commercial refrigeration has only begun “due to the tackling of “low-hanging fruit” in energy consumption such as lights, HVAC, and process loads.” This, however, is beginning to change. “Recent governmental regulations, such as requirements for walk-in coolers and freezers from the US Department of Energy with a mandated performance level of Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF) is just the first of many requirements where energy performance will become more regulated in the commercial refrigeration market place,” he says. “Technologies, such as variable-speed components, including fans and compressors, in addition to control strategies such as floating head pressure control will become more common in refrigeration system design.” Fransen adds that in staying abreast with upcoming standards to develop new products surrounding mandated and voluntary programmes, Tecumseh sees variable speed compressors and systems as well as low-GWP refrigerants transitioning over to the commercial market “once energy standards and regulations become more prevalent across the globe”.
Another key trend Walters identifies in North America is the growing move towards the use of air conditioning and water heating equipment that are connected and able to talk to the grid and electricity supplier, relative to adjusting supply with demand. “It’s not an on-and-off switch,” he says. Fransen echoes this, adding that the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices are quickly changing the way consumers use products, and that the company sees a similar trend in the commercial refrigeration market. “More and more components are connected, which helps end-users with a variety of different tasks, to simplify their work,” he says. “Regarding refrigeration components, some examples could be a means to show diagnostics for quick servicing or a web-based predictive analysis tool that would show when components in a system may potentially fail based on specific parameters.”
Presser adds that LEED certification also plays a role in this. “When you choose to get LEED certification for a building,” he says, “you incorporate a lot of intelligent energy controls.” However, he says, no one is dictating the backbone communication architecture to be used, whether it is an HVACR standard or an industry open standard. Presser says that the adoption of LEED certification will promote greater building intelligence and technology, but that the industry still has a long way to go.
The industry, Presser says, is currently promoting a standard that does not interface with technologies coming into buildings and devices and that he sees a move towards an international standard of communication in the HVACR space. “My feeling,” he says, “is that eventually product developers are going to take a look at the HVACR space and come with an open standard product that will ensure lower cost and ease of connectivity, which will displace proprietary technologies. You also have to realise you have a huge installed space, the opportunity will be when you look at existing buildings and you want to add intelligence. Who will win?”
Ali says that being one of the biggest retrofit markets, North America may be a little ahead of the rest of the world, in terms of planning for maintenance. “Along with new development and construction, there is a lot of renovation, where older buildings are updated and using the latest technologies,” he says. “Predictive maintenance comes into play here. You may have a LEED-certified building equipped with the latest equipment with IoT technology to communicate building conditions 24/7. Without careful monitoring, regular inspection and diligent maintenance, the initial energy efficiency will decline dramatically over the next five years.”
Maintenance, Ali stresses, is an essential component to successful energy management. He adds that though North America is a huge continent with diverse climates and with each state having its own mindset, regulations, capabilities and budget to maintain infrastructure, building owners are more or less aware of the important role that maintenance plays in ensuring a healthier environment, better indoor air quality and better, energy- efficient buildings. “If you are a building manager or owner of commercial real estate,” he says, “that would be in your mindset in order to compete in the marketplace.”
Ali adds that building owners and equipment suppliers need to work together to conduct energy audits and implement ongoing maintenance programmes. “Right now,” he says, “follow up is often lacking, whether it’s in North America, Asia or in the Middle East.”
While HVACR manufacturers in North America navigate the demands of the local market, most operate in a largely international market and grapple with the changing winds of an increasingly globalised and inter-connected consumer base.
Microgrids enhance a region’s resilience
Could you provide a first-hand account of Superstorm Sandy, and how Princeton served the community through its microgrid?
The hurricane moved its way up the eastern seaboard of the United States, and as it approached campus, it took down trees, affecting power quality and reliability. Soon, it caused the utility power to go out, and as the voltage dropped, our plant shut down. However, the microgrid was able to self-restore, and we used the power to restart power supply to the campus. So technically, we were without power for only 15 minutes. The tricky situation here was getting administrative permission to isolate the campus from the rest of the power grid. Because we had cogeneration on site, we were able to separate and shut off the less important loads on campus. We ran separately from the power grid for days. We told people in the community, if their house is cold, we had set up cots and that they could come and rest at the University. However, most importantly, the first responders – that is, the firefighters and the police – were able to come to the university and get a meal and recharge their phones and radios. They were able to have meetings and decide what they should work on next, before getting back on to the field. The important takeaway here is that you don’t need every single place to have a microgrid, but if you have one occasionally, scattered throughout a community or region, it does make a huge difference.
Microgrids reportedly lower energy costs for customers. How much, though? Are the savings significant to overcome capex barriers?
The big savings come from the fact that microgrids enable cogeneration, thermal storage and other cost-saving opportunities. We generate a lot of power whenever the grid price is higher than our marginal cost to generate. We purchase a lot of power whenever the grid price is lower than our marginal cost to generate. That way, our campus customers enjoy the benefit of the lesser cost. Savings relate to dozens of factors and are very specific to the location, the grid and the energy needs being served. Payback may take from five to 15 years, depending on these factors. Or, under a power-purchase agreement, the savings may be immediate. In any case, though, the lifecycle savings are far more than the capex. Fewer microgrids would be built if they weren’t. Even utility customers outside the microgrid save a little money if they pay real-time utility rates, because our generation has the effect of slightly lowering the total net cost of power on the grid. That is, establishing a microgrid is a win-win for all customers, not a zero-sum game.
Ted Borer, Energy Plant Manager, Princeton University
You describe microgrids as distributing risk into smaller pieces, whereby grid reliability is improved. Could you please elaborate?
Imagine there are two large utility generators serving a region. Each is capable of generating enough power to serve the grid by itself – that is, 100% redundancy. It’s easy to picture scenarios where those generators, or the substations or the wires between the plants and the ultimate customers are damaged. There are a few points with high vulnerability in the system that could interrupt service to large portions of the region. Alternatively, if we reduce the size of the two plants and scatter several microgrids around the region, it is possible to have the same (or less) total installed generating capacity, while increasing reliability.
Microgrids, as per your description, reduce both energy use and peak demand and work well with CHP to greatly increase energy efficiency. This means they can widely be used as the system of choice, or do they work well only in some applications?
Microgrids would work everywhere, but they are not financially attractive and make no sense in some places. For instance, at home, on a tiny scale, you could buy two different-sized generators; however, you might spend five times as much if you run the air handler, the oven on self-cleaning mode, the welding machine and other appliances that use electricity. It’s not about what’s possible, but whether it is cost-effective and a sensible use of your financial resources. For instance, with regard to installation and maintenance, right now the utilities provide electricity to us, and you don’t need to worry about it. But if you decide to build yourself a microgrid, you need to begin doing what they (the utilities) have been doing. You need to make sure it’s safe and that you know how to operate and maintain it. You need to make sure that you have good fuel and that the fuel is of good quality. So by establishing a microgrid, you have taken on a lot more responsibilities and you get greater benefits. You have to ask yourself, “I am going to spend some money, but is that money going to be worth it?”
Could you elaborate on the economic motivation to conserve energy and how the scenario with regard to price and energy is different from the Middle East?
In Dubai, for instance, the price of electricity is the same all day and all night; whether you’re a residential customer or commercial, it’s the same price. In our state, in New Jersey, the price of power for residential customers never changes, but for commercial purposes it changes dramatically, as fast as five minutes. It’s not rigorously a demand charge but more of an energy charge that changes every five minutes. In the middle of the night I might pay two cents per kilowatt-hour and in the day I may pay 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, so it could be 10 times as much. We have a very strong economic motivation and use as much energy as we can during the night in order to avoid the amount of energy purchased during the day.
Could you elaborate on the University’s control platform, which reportedly works relative to the energy needs of the campus in accordance with grid and weather conditions to forecast the corresponding load?
The control system advices us and helps us predict when electricity is going to be expensive and cheap. It is a combination of a software along with many meters, where we look at temperatures, pressures, flows and energy use through all the major equipment on campus. It is not rigorously an IoT-powered system, because when I think of IoT I understand it to be hundreds and thousands of data points connected to a system. In our system, we have a few hundred data points. I mean one temperature signal, a pressure signal, while the rest are sensors. The sensors are not scattered and are not radio transmitters; they are Bluetooth-enabled and hardwired directly back to the campus.
You say that existing generation assets can be operated in new ways for additional revenue with little capital investment. Could you please elaborate?
Yes. We built our cogeneration system in 1996. It wasn’t until 2003 that power was deregulated in our state of New Jersey. At that time, it became more lucrative to generate more power during the day and less power at night. We used the same asset fewer hours per year and generated more savings. More recently, the power grid has established a market for frequency regulation. By modulating the output of our existing gas turbine in response to a grid frequency signal, we are able to help support the local grid frequency. We get compensated for this activity at about 3x the price of power. It is a new revenue stream, same asset. It is a minor investment in controls.
Microgrids provide self-sufficiency and resilience especially in emergency situations. How can they be applied in the United Arab Emirates?
We put in cogeneration not because of reliability issues but in order to save us money. A collateral benefit is that it also gives us reliability and resilience in crisis. I believe that the power supply in the United Arab Emirates is very reliable and very good, so there’s nothing to take away from that. But every once in a while, we still expect that there might be a problem, something that might take out the energy supply, and it would be nice to have spots of enhanced reliability. Having microgrids at critical locations, such as police centres, firefighting stations and hospitals, is crucial. The United Arab Emirates could benefit from cogeneration, not because the power is unreliable but firstly to save money and also to be more efficient. The power plant by itself might be 25-45% efficient, but if you do cogeneration, you could even do 75-80% efficiency. Hence, I am not concerned with who owns it; it could be a government or a utility or even a privately owned microgrid. Even with technology, you can use chillers, gas turbines, jet engines or diesel fuel.
‘The real value of District Energy is seen over a long-term basis’
Could you comment on the uptake of District Cooling in the Middle East region? Do you see an opportunity for the region to drive the growth of District Cooling to a level similar to that in Denmark?
In Denmark, District Heating is just expected. It’s something in their culture for so many years. If you’re getting electricity for your building, most people don’t think of generating it themselves. They would go to the utility supplier and get it. It’s an integral part of the infrastructure, so when people think of doing their building, the first thing they think about is whether there is a network out there. That’s just what they would do; it’s sort of a natural instinct.
I think cooling in the Middle East is getting there, too. I contrast that to the United States and District Cooling/Heating – it is a much smaller slice of that effort, it’s more surprising that there would even be a system. Many times, when people are developing a building, they’re not even thinking about District Energy development in the area; they just think there is the building and they think of putting their own cooling equipment or heating equipment in.
Is it because of diversity of geography?
A little bit. If developers are familiar with the local area, then they’ll know about it, if it’s there. But if they’re new to the area, then they may not know, and it may not be something they consciously think about. What I do say for people that want to go on District Energy, in general, too often people want to jump into the economics of it, instead of looking at it and saying qualitatively, “What does this do for me?”
In my experience, if I talked to people about the value of using District Energy, and they understand it and they go, “I like that, those values resonated with me”, that’s more than half the battle won, because if people want it, then they look at the economics, which they always have to do, to justify it. More often, if someone hasn’t gone through the process of understanding the benefits of District Energy, and I’m not talking about true financial ones, then, they may be more apt to say, “I’m not feeling comfortable”, and when you do the finances because you’re doing something over a longer period of time, it’s really easy, if you don’t want it, to put the numbers in the spreadsheet in the right way, so the economics don’t make sense. But if you want it, then you will do more investigation to make sure you have an accurate assumption of the financial model. District Energy is very different from having your own system, and too often people want to compare it to that, but it’s like a different type of car. Yes, you drive both cars, but a Ferrari is very different from a Volkswagen, and I’m not saying we are the Ferrari, but I’m not saying we are the Volkswagen, either. The quality and reliability of District Energy is significantly better than individual building systems, and when someone talks of the total cost of the development and all the operating cost over the life of the building, District Energy is relatively small in scale, compared to that.
In the United States, we have seen many customers, where we have had contracts. If someone is looking at an investor building to resell it, we have seen District Energy is a benefit, because when you have a building that is being sold and you have liabilities associated with the central plant, where people take capital investment, that is an added cost an investor is later going to top, whereas if you have a District Energy system, as long as the contract is understood, from a market standpoint, it is competitive. The new owner picks it up, and we have had new buildings in our system exchange hands multiple times with developers.
Ultimately, it’s the utility providers’ responsibility to communicate the financial value and the soft items that are more qualitative in nature.
What are the paybacks?
Payback is not the right metric. It’s important to talk to CFOs – those interested in capital and operating expenses – and then you have to do a lifecycle cost analysis. That’s going to look at what their ultimate cost will be, both on the capital and the operating side, for an extended period of time, which would typically be 25-30 years because of the lifespan of equipment. The challenge comes when most people can look at capital cost, because they can get estimates of that nature. It is very hard for people or buildings to have a good history of the 30-year operating and maintenance expenses for the District Energy company. District Energy should win if people have done their job every single time, and the reason they should win is, if you think about it, if the overall cost is the same in the long run, why would I want to take the risk associated with operating my own plant? Because if I have risk associated with that, that is added cost. District Energy systems remove all the risk associated with reliability of service equipment, failures and construction costs. No one is taking on that risk. If someone brings a brand new building, we are taking construction risk associated with the mechanical equipment.
How much goodwill do District Energy providers have in the United States? Has that value of District Energy been revealed to more stakeholders, or do you feel more work has to be done in that regard?
I think a lot of work has to be done. I don’t think people recognize that at all. There are some customers that do. If the District Energy company is doing a good job in communicating with them and being able to let them know some of the things they are doing, they will recognize that. The challenge is that too many of the customer representatives of those buildings don’t stay very long. It gets tough, because the real value of District Energy with that goodwill is seen over a long-term basis. When you think about it, if you buy a new car, the first few years it works perfectly fine. Like leasing, it goes back. You never experience holding on to it for 20 years, because the last 10 years, maybe the last five years, the contract is the most challenging. That’s when you have to run your own equipment, you have lots of failures, you have an issue trying to extend the life. You don’t have that with District Energy. With District Energy, you are paying someone else, you are supplying reliable cooling there every day – out of sight and out of mind.
I would say District Energy companies and their employees tend to be long-term, the customer buildings tend to have higher turnover, so it’s harder to have people recognize some of that goodwill you’re talking about.
‘A wider pool of HVACR specialists, who understand the needs of museums, would be very advantageous’
Could you provide us with an overview on how the optimum climate can ensure the longevity of art pieces or cultural objects in museums, libraries and archives?
There has been an interesting history in the consideration of climate in museums and the impact of climate in museum collection, because there was a very important book published in 1978 by a British author, named Gary Thompson – it’s called The Museum Environment. That book was important in influencing the entire English-speaking world, and it outlined the kind of research done at that point in time. The book was divided into two halves – one was designed for energy engineers, and the other half was for conservation [specialists], who care for collections. It was a very forward-looking book.
The outcome of that book was that some climate specifications were created for temperature and humidity, 21 degrees C and 50% relative humidity, respectively. Those were taken as unyielding standards and accepted by people who cared for collections, because people understood this to be something that was important for their preservation. However, the realization that has been made since the publication of that book is that not every region in the world has the same outdoor environment, so trying to achieve the indoor environment that may be appropriate for a more humid country like England, or a city like London, might not be appropriate for a museum built in a dry part of the world [with] desert climate. The realization that the region in which the actual museum or collection resides is particularly important as a variable, has taken place.
The next thing is that materials that comprise museum objects include a whole range of different materials, and those materials don’t behave in exactly the same way in response to temperature and relative humidity. So, for example, archaeological [objects] that have been buried in salty water have been subject to salts remaining in the materials. When those materials are moved into museums, the salts left behind can be very reactive and responsive to changes in relative humidity. We know archaeological metals and ceramics and some stone materials can have particular sensitivities, and certain kinds of archaeological and historical glass have particular sensitivities, and other materials like ivory and wood are sensitive to changes in relative humidity.
I would say in the last 25 years, more research has been done, and continuing research is going on now, to look at exactly what kind of damage is created when you did not have tightly controlled temperature and relative humidity. One major study was by the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, another by the Canadian Conservation Institute and yet another significant study was by Getty in Los Angeles, called ‘Managing Collection Environment’, and all of the studies are designed to look at whether, or not, you can safely relax the climate standards for museums, so that the relative humidity could be actually 35-60%. There is wide agreement that 1) it depends on the climate where the museum is, because collections acclimate to the environment they are in to a certain extent, and 2) it depends on what are the collection materials, and 3) everyone agrees that the most important thing is to only permit change in relative humidity, if it happens gradually. What is dangerous for a collection is one day your relative humidity is 15% and the next day it’s 60%, because that’s a very dramatic shift.
In view of the research that has been carried out on the effects of relative humidity and temperature, has there been a move to develop minimum standards that global or regional museums, and similar developments, would have to comply with? Or is it mostly an independent move by galleries that impose their own quality standards for their collections?
It’s a good question. So, museums develop their own standards, and they work to comply with those standards. As you might imagine, standards for climate become crucial when one museum lends materials to another museum. If the Louvre maintains a certain climate for materials and sends them to Abu Dhabi, they are going to be very aware of how the museum in Abu Dhabi maintains the climate around those collections, so museums are very active in developing loan documents, and they specify climate within those loan documents.
Also, in 2014, the ‘Declaration on Environmental Guidelines’ on the museum environment was endorsed by two professional organisations. One is called ‘International Institute for Conservation’ and the other is ‘International Council on Museums – Conservation Committee’. The Declaration is available online; it actually redefines the international standards.
In such cases, management is very aware of the importance of implementing these standards in terms of building design and equipment choice, but, given the unique requirements, are the FM and operations personnel aware and properly trained on these issues, as well?
It is a case-by-case basis. I would say larger museums with larger operating budgets – they do have a facilities manager, who has a certain kind of sensitivity to the task of preserving the collection. They understand that the climate and HVAC systems installed need to be those that can be adjusted to maintain a safe climate for the collection.
I have visited smaller museums that don’t have the expertise or the resources to necessarily support the kinds of climate requirements that museums demand. Also, there are individuals who create their own specialization – they tend to be HVAC engineers and HVAC specialists with a particular interest in museums and libraries and archives, places that hold important collections. They then can be hired by smaller institutions that don’t have their own expertise in-house. Or they can hire those experts to work with FM that they do have on staff, who may want more information about the specialized needs.
I think, in particular, having a wider pool of educated HVAC specialists, who understand the needs of museums and collection, would be very advantageous. It would help smaller museums that cannot have these people on staff.
Do you believe that a collaborative approach would move the dial in terms of cultivating more specialists who are aware of the unique requirements of such a development?
Yes, I see more room for collaboration. I think it would be beneficial if facilities engineers were open to working with conservators and curators and collections managers, because there’s a lot we can learn from each other. I always try to invite a facilities engineer into my class and have them talk about how they make decisions, so my students can be in dialog with them. I put collections people and facilities people in dialog.
Energy targets reshaping the built-environment
Italy currently houses 12.2 million residential buildings, featuring 31 million homes, 72% of which was built before 1980, at a time when there was no legislation on the energy saving of buildings. This is the figure that Andrea Guderzo, General Manager, Clivet Mideast FZCO, presents in an effort to highlight the importance the retrofit segment holds in the country’s energy-efficiency directives. He says: “The 2018/844 / EU Directive, published on June 19, 2018, requires European countries to develop a long-term strategy to support the renovation of residential and non-residential buildings, both public and private in order to obtain decarbonised and energy-efficient buildings by 2050, and to facilitate the transformation of existing buildings into almost-zero-energy buildings.”
This, Guderzo stresses, offers a great opportunity for the HVAC market, in view of the technological innovations in the fields of heating, cooling, air renewal and purification and domestic hot water production and the very compact units, which can contribute towards achieving high levels of global efficiency. “In Italy, modern construction technologies have brought great improvements in the insulation of building envelopes and a substantial reduction in the thermal requirements of buildings,” he says. Almost 70% of the energy needs of a building is used to regulate the indoor climate. The challenges real estate is facing are: reducing consumption to zero by working on the envelope, finding low-impact energy sources, ensuring comfort and guaranteeing economic sustainability of design choices. In this scenario, the HVACR industry has a great responsibility and must give its contribution to increase global efficiency and comfort of the buildings.”
Beyond compliance with public sector regulations to reduce consumption, Guderzo stresses that improving the efficiency and sustainability of existing buildings has an implication in terms of market value and absorbability of the property, which should not be underestimated. “A recent survey carried out by ReBuild, in collaboration with CBRE and GBCI Europe, showed how energy-efficient buildings with a LEED certification have a greater value on the real estate market,” he says. “In particular, the market recognises the Gold certification, with a premium of 7.4%, and Platinum, with a premium above 11%. The occupancy rate on the certified properties, within six months after the certification, reach about 80%, and the vacancy ratio, after two and a half years, is lower than seven per cent.”
Guderzo says the growing demand for comfort, while ensuring energy saving, has been driving design and production of companies. “Italian producers, like Clivet, are facing this challenge by focusing on research and innovation, in order to create products that guarantee maximum comfort by reducing the energy consumption and the environmental impact of comfort solutions,” he says. “This strategy is winning, as demonstrated, the last 2018 trimestral evaluations announced by Assoclima, the Italian Association of HVRAC producers, with a growth in Italy’s air conditioning sector.”
Guderzo says large part of the growth in the sector is represented by the heat pump technology, adding that inverter technology continues to be a popular choice in the residential sector and has evolved to address real-time demands of the plant, which increases the energy efficiency of the overall system.
China eyes a larger MEA footprint
Ten air conditioners will be sold per second in the next 30 years, says Moan Abraham, Vice President and General Manager for Air Conditioning, Hisense Middle East, quoting a key figure in the International Energy Agency’s “The Future of Cooling” report. The report forecasted that the global air conditioner market will grow from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion by 2050. For Abraham, while the figure offers tremendous potential, it also poses a challenge for HVAC manufacturers, stressing that if the industry does not opt for energy-efficient systems from now on, the scenario in 2050 could be quite challenging with regard to heavy consumption. Abraham believes Chinese manufacturers could be well positioned to address this growing demand, with regard to both scale and energy efficiency.
Based on customs data published by the Chinese government, Abraham says that China is already taking a big portion of the air conditioning business, globally and that the number continues to grow for all major players. Mark Wang, General Manager of International Sales, Chigo, says the overall growth of China’s HVAC industry is expected to be around five per cent. Abraham says that Hisense alone has been able to increase its export shares by 50% in the last three years.
To further underscore the scale of Chinese exports, Abraham says that in 2018 alone, around 50 million sets were exported from China. In 2019, Abraham says, it is expected that 4.14 million units will be exported to the Middle East, and 3.19 million units to Africa. “If China is exporting [around] 50 million sets, and the Middle East and Africa is taking around 7.5 million sets, that’s a significant portion that the region is accounting for,” he says.
Growing presence in Middle East and Africa
Abraham says that the Middle East and African markets have been showcasing greater appreciation for Chinese brands. Gleaning from Hisense’s own experience in the region, Abraham says that in the past, the company was largely an OEM player but that since it has been focusing on its own brand, Hisense has achieved a good market share in the last 3-4 years. This, Abraham says, is owing to several reasons. First, he points to the gradual shift in public opinion. “The quality perception of China-made products have changed today,” he says. “You have government entities specifying China-made products – this means confidence. Basically, the quality and performance of Chinese ACs and brands have been quite high-end in the last few years. People are now recognising that the quality is next to none.” Secondly, Abraham points to affordability owing to economies of scale. “It’s not about buying low-cost products,” he says. “The product is more affordable, so people can buy. Again, the purchasing power increases and the affordability has come.” Abraham also points to reliability, stressing that Chinese brands’ move to partner with notable local companies has enhanced after-sales and maintenance services. Lastly, Abraham stresses that China has the capability to manufacture in big volumes, which allows it to remain competitive in big markets.
Abraham says that this offers a good opportunity for Chinese brands, as the demand will continue to grow, not only globally, as per forecasts, but in the region, as well, owing to a reduction in lifecycle of air conditioners, especially in residential applications. This, he says, can be attributed to three main factors: “Number one, it is exposed to harsh environments. The AC is taking a big beating in terms of performance. Also, usage – people are looking for extreme cooling.” In this regard, Abraham says there is a need to enhance consumer awareness with regard to moderate temperatures setting. “People want a set-point temperature of 16 degrees C,” he says. “This is bad for health and energy consumption. Some countries are putting some regulations, especially in Egypt, which limited thermostat setting to 20 degrees C. If regulation comes, you need to limit temperature setting to a certain level, and you can increase the efficiency and life of ACs.”
Another cause for the reduction in life of air conditioners, Abraham says, is the lack of skilled personnel handling the maintenance of AC equipment in residential units. The third bottleneck, Abraham says, is the cost of repair as well as the response time of relevant personnel in the event there is a need for product replacements. “In peak season in the GCC region, a new air conditioner can be installed in 24 hours,” he says. “But if you have complaint relating to compressor failure, you may have to wait for 2-3 days.”
Opportunities in emerging market: Spotlight on Iraq
Chinese manufacturers are showing increasing interest in Middle East and Africa; however, it is not solely owing to the potential pipeline of projects. The growing importance the countries in the region is placing on energy efficiency has also piqued the interest of Chinese brands, which have become well-versed in navigating increasingly stringent regulations in China. Abraham says that in China, the government has cracked down on the supply chain of components to ensure that products meet certain environmental standards in view of the country’s commitment to the Paris Accord, leading to a spike in cost of products, as companies need to maintain certain standards of production. Sharing his observations on trends in China, Wang adds that the VRF market is also continuing to grow at good rate, and the proportion of VRFs, compared to conventional systems, will increase. Abraham echoes this, saying that in China, VRF systems are being sold in the market like a consumer product and that there are quality training systems for those entering the service industry.
A number of Chinese companies are leveraging this experience to address shifting standards in the region. Wang says: “With the enactment of Saudi Arabia’s new SASO energy efficiency standard, Bahrain and Oman have successively issued energy efficiency regulations similar to SASO. Kuwait has also raised the T4 energy efficiency standard that is expected to be implemented in September 2019.” As customers pay more and more attention to energy saving, Wang says, designers and consultants will also take this aspect into consideration when selecting air-conditioning systems, especially in green projects and government tenders. “The technical threshold of products is the basic requirement,” Wang says. “We are actively responding by the timely launch of related products.”
Wang says that in addition to key markets, such as Saudi Arabia, Chigo is committed towards reinforcing its presence in markets such as Syria, Palestine and, particularly, Iraq. “The political situation in Iraq from 2017 to 2018 has gradually stabilised and reconstruction has started,” he says. Wang adds that although there are challenges in the country, it will not be enough to stall the momentum the Iraqi market is undergoing, adding that the local market is evolving into a promising VRF market. Abraham echoes this, saying that as Iraq continues to develop an increasingly stable government, it will look to provide its citizens with basic services that will require further infrastructure, such as housing. “Those will be good drivers for most of the suppliers,” Abraham says. “If you look at Iraq today, 95% of what is imported is from China, and Iraq is a tough environment in terms of climate, so quality should be at the high end in order to gain the market in Iraq.”
Abraham says that for the most part, the Iraq market provides an even playing field for most suppliers, but that the differentiating factor is the partner of choice. “Local partner distributors’ knowledge in the market and relationships will play an important part in the development,” he says.
Speaking with regard to the goals of Hisense, Abraham says that the company aims to be named one of the top three brands in the next five years in the air conditioning category. The company aims to do this, he says, by offering innovative products, energy-efficient solutions and focusing on customer satisfaction, in addition to ensuring product quality, cooling performance and reduced downtime, all which will help in the company’s efforts to gain further market share. This, he says, is part of a brand’s evolution and part of its unfolding global narrative as a Chinese manufacturer taking on the global market. “It’s a journey,” he says. “You cannot build the Great Wall of China wall in one day.”
Biomimicry profiling reduces CO2 consumption
Kuenzelsau, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 21 March 2019: Ziehl-Abegg said through a Press communiqué that it is further utilising biomimicry in a bid to bolster its efforts towards mitigating climate change. To further reduce CO2 consumption, the company said through the communiqué, the humpback whale served as the model for the latest composite material fan development, which also incorporates biomimicry features of owls and trees. This improves the carbon footprint equally in two ways – through a significant reduction in the material used as well lower energy consumption, when operating in climate control equipment and industrial ventilation systems.
Ziehl-Abegg, the communiqué said, is already at more than 70% peak efficiency with its centrifugal fans, so every opportunity for the optimisation of performance must be utilised. The new centrifugal impeller possesses features of three completely different approaches to Biomimicry: from both aerodynamics (ornithology) and hydrodynamics (marine biology) and biomechanics (trees), the communiqué said. Savings in material content and improved aerodynamics halve CO2 emissions associated with manufacturing, whilst maintaining the same ventilation performance, the communiqué added. Modern injection-moulding tools, each costing more than half a million euros, enable the company to implement the geometries, which have been optimised through the application of Biomimicry, the communiqué further added.
According to the communiqué, the trailing edges of the fan blades are modelled on the owl wing. “As the quietest bird of prey, the owl has already been used as a role model for several designs,” said Peter Fenkl, CEO. Serrated trailing edges of fans are now seen as a trademark of Ziehl-Abegg. In the new fan however, the design of the serrations was a little smoother, the communiqué said.
Evolution has optimised the flow efficiency of the humpback whale overall in such a way that, despite its body size, it is considered a very good and agile swimmer. If this had not been the case, it would also have been unable to make its long journeys through the world’s oceans without having to feed. The latest generation of centrifugal fans at Ziehl-Abegg is now benefitting from this knowledge of biomimicry, the communiqué said.
The developers at Ziehl-Abegg, the communiqué said, also drew inspiration from Professor Claus Mattheck. The “tree whisperer” or “tree pope”, “as the media call him, creates a bridge between nature and technology. The professor is, after all, a pioneer of the science of biomechanics. Trees are a prime example of optimum strength with minimum use of materials. The five blades of the centrifugal ZAbluefin fan, the communiqué said, merge into both the cover and back plate in exactly the same way as trees grow upwards – at a slight radius to the ground. This is scarcely visible with the naked eye, because the curves, which mimic a tree, are minimal. Nevertheless, these bionic approaches in the blade transition provide the same strength as heavy wings – enabling the use of materials to be significantly reduced. Less material consumption in production also means a lower carbon footprint, the communiqué said.
According to the communiqué, the air flow in centrifugal fans hits the fan blades at different angles, depending on the volume flow. The whale has to overcome similar challenges when swimming in the sea – the movement of the fins causes their angular position to constantly change. If its pectoral fins were to be positioned at too steep an angle to the opposing current, strong turbulence would result in the water separating from the fins. “High flow losses and noise are characteristic features of strong turbulence,” said Dr Walter Angelis, Technical Director, Ziehl-Abegg. The design of the fins on a humpback whale has been optimised over millions of years. That’s why the leading edges of the whale fins contain golf ball-sized nodules (technical term: tubercle). This allows an animal weighing 25 to 30 tonnes to swim very quickly and nimbly using its long pectoral fins. “We recreated this aspect at the leading edge of the fan blades and implemented it in the form of a rippled surface,” Angelis said.
The flow engineers also took a closer look at the whale’s tail fin, the “fluke”, the communiqué said. The V-shaped contour of the tail fin section, the communiqué said, delays any potential flow separation – which enables the fan to be used for numerous pressure ranges. The latest generation of centrifugal fans at Ziehl-Abegg, the communiqué said, is now benefitting from this knowledge of biomimicry.
ACR Project Consultants aims to drive Green cold chain applications across India
Pune, India, 19 March 2019: ACR Project Consultants has placed a strong focus on the cold chain sector over the last 30 years, said Arvind Surange, CMD. It was while working on large number of cold chain projects, Surange said, that the company realised the need for integrating Green design concepts in the sector. “We introduced this concept in 2008 and have been promoting it at a global level, highlighting the importance of environment friendliness, energy efficiency, water saving, waste heat recovery, application of renewable energy and other green features,” he said.
Surange said that realising the importance of natural refrigerants, ACR took the lead in designing the first few low-charge Ammonia DX systems in India for cold storage projects. He said: “The basic features of these are: Ammonia charge reduction; compact and lightweight equipment; full automation, including use of electronic expansion valve; and air-cooled or water-cooled setup, based on water availability.
Providing an example of one of the company’s Green projects, Surange pointed to the integrated cold chain facility of Savla Foods and cold storage in Navi Mumbai, which includes recycling of water, waste heat recovery for generating hot water for processing, along with other Green features. He added that the project was named Best Green Cold Chain Solution by the Cold Chain and Logistics Industry in 2017 and Best Food Processing and Cold Chain Project by RefCold India Emerson Awards in 2018.
In addition to this, Surange said, the latest projects the company is working on involve PEB structure with insulated panel enclosures, mechanised loading and unloading systems, eco-friendly and energy-efficient refrigeration and electrical systems, water-saving techniques and full automation. “These projects,” he said, “have been implemented in right from the northern to the southern and from the eastern to the western regions of the country.”