A recent survey conducted by Johnson Controls — the Global Energy Efficiency Indicator — found that 75 percent of surveyed organizations in the U.S. plan to increase their investment in green heating and cooling systems, renewable energy and smart building technology. The data showed a 16 percent increase from the previous year, and the research suggests that sustainability is a key driver of this increase, according to Johnson Controls.
“This is the largest annual increase in planned investment in over a decade,” says Clay Nesler, vice president of global sustainability and regulatory affairs for the HVAC brand. “Investment in smart and sustainable building technologies not only addresses urgent climate challenges but also improves comfort, health, safety and affordability for building occupants and communities.”
The study, now in its 13th edition, surveyed 400 energy and facility management executives in the United States to analyze and understand the state of current and planned investments, technology trends and key drivers supporting smart, safe and sustainable buildings.
More than half of participants believe that reducing energy costs, increasing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are critical factors to consider when making investments. In addition to these drivers, 87 percent of organizations indicated that resilience is very or extremely important when considering future energy and building infrastructure investments, compared with 68 percent the previous year.
The survey also indicates a rising trend towards green and zero carbon buildings:
- 85 percent of organizations plan to have at least one certified green building compared with 72 percent last year, while 62 percent are willing to pay a premium for space in a certified green building.
- 63 percent of organizations say they are very or extremely likely to have one or more facilities that are nearly or net zero energy or carbon in the next ten years, up from 58 percent in the previous year.
- 61 percent of organizations surveyed invested in on-site renewable energy in 2019, while 34 percent of organizations invested in the replacement of fossil fuel heating equipment with heat pump technology last year.
In 2018, buildings — including offices, homes, and stores — accounted for the use of 40 percent of the country’s energy and 70 percent of electricity. Buildings also emit over one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than any other sector of the economy. In a residential setting, heating and cooling accounts for 56 percent of energy use in the typical home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
What does it all mean? HVAC contractors are uniquely positioned to influence a shift to green heating and cooling systems in buildings, reducing the world's carbon footprint in the process.
In several states, achieving U.S. Green Building Council LEED certifications are tied to sizable tax breaks for owners and residents. Depending on the HVAC system, savings can reach $5,000, which more than offsets the cost of replacing an older HVAC system with a greener, more efficient technology.
With the phase out of R22 (HCFC-22), once standard refrigerant in air conditioning and heat pump systems, the sooner building replace R22 systems for the environmentally friendly refrigerants the less chance of expensive repairs. However, the key to a smooth switch for the industry is information.
The more HVAC contractors know about green heating and cooling systems, and other green certifications, the better suited contractors will be to give the industry a green thumb. Here are five influential green-focused heating and cooling products HVAC contractors can adopt right now into their HVAC services.
1. The BlowBeast
Now more than ever, homeowners and building owners are paying attention to ways that they can improve indoor air quality. The BlowBeast by Rotobrush is ideal in duct cleaning situations where a traditional brush and vacuum won’t be as effective.
BlowBeast provides superior airflow and high vacuum capabilities to remove contaminants and improve indoor air quality. With a removable pod for collecting the contaminants, contractors will also have an easier time getting their machine ready for the next job site.
“We know contractors are searching for equipment that makes it easier for them to perform air duct cleaning,” says Bob Elledge, president and CEO of Rotobrush International. “The BlowBeast is easy to maneuver without losing the power needed to effectively remove airborne dust and pollutants from any air duct system.”
The artificial intelligence that powers RemotAir by Alisea learns from experience and carries out predictive analysis on HVAC system hygiene and operating conditions. It evaluates the cleanliness of the system by eight parameters, including wi-fi cameras that monitor duct surfacing using an optical evaluation that sends a value estimation to users.
The system estimates the amount of dust deposited (in g/sqm) on duct interior surfaces and sends a warning notification when conditions reach the threshold indicated by standard NADCA ACR 2013 (0.75 g/m2). The same goes for monitoring the conditions of the air handling filters (via difference of pressure) and the conditions and the efficiency of the heat exchanger coils.
What’s more is the system monitors for materials that can evolve to be hazardous to human health. The system then predicts, identifies and controls the buildup of those materials using special algorithms, researched and tested over five years by Alisea’s air systems hygienists.
3. Nexus Modular Hybrid
The Nexus Modular Hybrid by Baltimore AirCoil is the world’s first intelligent, plug-and-play, modular, hybrid fluid cooling system. Engineered to simplify system design and optimize water and energy savings, the Nexus also provides the lowest installation, operating, and maintenance costs to simplify both the design and installation of fluid cooling systems. Not to mention, The Hybrid Cooler was a finalist in the Cooling category for this year’s 2020 AHR Innovation Awards.
4. The Hornet
The Horney ultraviolet lamp fixture from UV Resources can be easily installed in most any residential and light commercial HVAC system to provide cleaner, healthier air; improve airflow and heat-exchange efficiency levels. Ideal for applications up to 5 tons, the Hornet is specifically designed to be exceptionally safe, easy to install, and simple to use. The Hornet comes complete with everything required for quick and straightforward installation.
5. TG490 Compressor
The Danfoss Turbocor TG490 compressor won a 2020 AHR Innovation award this year in the Green Building category. Designed for air- or water-cooled chillers, Turbocor is the world’s first oil-free, variable speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressor qualified for the use of R-515B. R-515B.
It has an AR5 GWP of 299 and an ASHRAE A1 safety classification for lower toxicity and no flame propagation. As an extension of the existing Danfoss Turbocor TG series of compressors, it also is qualified to use HFO-1234ze, an environmentally-friendly refrigerant with a GWP less than one.