Innovation Shaping the Future of HVAC

By Daikin

With more people being confined to working from homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, HVAC systems are increasingly being put into the spotlight over its impact on both the environment and its role in preventing the spread of airborne diseases.

Industry reports state that HVAC systems account for 13% of oil consumption and 59% of total EU gas consumption. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based intergovernmental organisation tasked at the heart of global energy dialogue, said that the power needed to keep air conditioners and electric fans running accounts for 20% of global electricity use.

In tropical Southeast Asia, where high humidity comes hand-in-hand with searing heat and increasing urbanization, this number is likely to be higher.

This is necessitated HVAC suppliers to rethink, and continuously work on modernizing heating and cooling systems to increase energy efficiency. They are increasing their investment to achieve their commitment towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For instance, HVAC suppliers such as Daikin are adopting eco-friendly refrigerants in their products. According to Swen Tan, Manager at Daikin Consulting Channel, the company is adopting “new HFO refrigerants that are environmentally friendly with zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and lower Global Warming Potential (GWP)”. 

(Image: HXE with HFO Refrigerant)

(Image: WMTC with HFO Refrigerant)

These refrigerants reduce carbon emissions, which industry experts estimate to account for 50% of a building’s total energy consumption and 40% of total worldwide carbon emissions.

Facilities managers are also experiencing more and more pressure to optimise HVAC systems. Most studies have found that the majority of IAQ problems are related to HVAC systems with inadequate air flow, poor maintenance, and insufficient outside air flow. 

New Technologies Coming to the Aid

New technologies such as the use of advanced HEPA filter and UV lighting treatment to eliminate or inactivate micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, moulds and other pathogens to prevent the spread of certain infectious diseases and have also helped facilities managers to improve IAQ.

“Daikin Air Purifier can be installed at high human traffic areas to clean the indoor air. It is proven that this air purifier can remove up to 99.9% influenza viruses, bacteria, allergens, and pollen. This is made possible with Daikin patented Streamer technology, HEPA filter and 3D powerful suction.

Air filters such as HEPA filter solution ensures the filtered indoor air is clean and healthy,” Tan said.

In addition, improvement to IAQ and overall HVAC systems can also come from the Implementation of controls, smart solutions and Building Management System where customizable solutions are provided to suit building needs to increase efficiency. Centralised cooling system with a modular plug and play chiller plant can result in easier installation while increasing efficiency while utilising space.

Another method to increase sustainability is to use reclaimed refrigerants. This method is an eco-friendly and zero waste approach. It aims to tackle the climate change, by putting old refrigerants through a thorough and intensive filtration process to remove impurities. This results in elimination of harmful gases being created during the production of new refrigerants. This can be said to be part of a circular economy. 

Systems Upgrading

When the HVAC system is identified as the cause of a problem, a system retrofit may be required to solve the problem. This is especially true as buildings age. There is a need to ensure that older buildings are upgraded to ensure their HVAC systems can continue to remain sustainable and solve any IAQ problems. However, However, upgrading HVAC systems in a building is a major project and challenge.

One method to optimising existing HVAC systems is to upgrade to AI-assisted HVAC systems which can significantly reduce the volume of carbon emitted from commercial and residential buildings and will save the building owner money on running costs.

Facilities managers of older buildings can also focus on increasing the sustainability of their existing buildings through methods such as saving energy, cutting down on water usage and reduction of carbon emissions.

They can adopt a chemical-free Cooling Tower Water Treatment Solution to improve efficiency and also incorporate smart solutions to allow for remote monitoring and controlling, as well as receiving real time data for analytical purpose. These data collected enables users to better understand energy usage and find ways to reduce energy wastage.

“Servicing maintenance and repair, the use of reclaim refrigerant for any repairs of HVAC and the use of non-chemical IAQ treatment such as steam cleaning and duct cleaning will improve the building lifecycle cost, “Tan added.

While HVAC systems aren’t the home appliances with the most severe environmental impact, there are still a few ways that HVAC systems can contribute negatively to the environment. As such, every little step in improving existing HVAC system efficiency and IAQ will go a long way in helping reduce global warming, its harmful side-effects and reduce costs.

For more information, meet Daikin at BEX Asia 2021.

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