There are a number of key lessons from 2021 which we as an industry need to learn from and take action on. And there are plenty of clues to what we can expect will happen next.
The most obvious topic, but also the one for which there is yet no clear answer, is how the world step-by-step could can move away from the world of lockdowns and restrictions towards some kind of normality. But will we go back to the way things were, or are we looking at a new era? One interesting aspect is the concept of the office building, which has slowly evolved during the last decades, but for which the pandemic may have triggered and accelerated a number of interesting trends.
The less obvious
As a side effect of an increased focus on how we can safely gather indoors, there has been a surge in interest on the effects of indoor environments in general. There has been research done for many years on how the indoor climate affects us as human beings, but suddenly it was finding it ways to the headlines. For natural reasons, the topic of virus transmission has been in focus, but less obvious aspects of indoor climate, which are also vital for our health, comfort and productivity has received increased attention as well. Topics such as the impact of relative humidity and the effects of indoor climate to school results were suddenly on the agenda, of and new alliances has been forged in the indoor climate business to increase the awareness amongst the general public of these topics.
The many aspects of sustainability
It also seems like we have reached a tipping point, where sustainability has finally made its way into public policy and company strategies on a wider scale. For the indoor climate industry, this takes on many shapes. It could be the need for lifecycle assessments of the key components going into an building, the way we calculate the carbon footprint of heat pumps or the rapid developments in the field of refrigerants. For air handling units, there is the new generation of rotary heat exchangers with sorption technology, saving energy in multiple steps.
So what is on the horizon?
The drive towards a more sustainable society and the quest for improved indoor environments will surely continue. What will then become more and more evident is how the digitalization of the building industry will go from prototype mode into full serial production mode. Yesterday’s fragmented and craft-like approach to building projects will rapidly give way to smart, all-inclusive indoor climate system solutions, which are easy to design and install, and which are flexible enough to allow for both high energy efficiency and excellent indoor climate, even as tenants and activities are changing.