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HVAC - What happened during 2020 (besides the obvious)?

The many aspects of the ongoing pandemic have completely dominated 2020 – and rightly so, since the effects have been terrible and globally present. We have covered the topic in this blog from a number of different angles, from guidelines on how to run your ventilation systems to maintaining operations in the midst of a lockdown. But, if we take a step back for a moment, are there other important developments in the HVAC building sector which may have been overshadowed by the immediate effects of the pandemic? And what is on the horizon for 2021?

Attention on renovation and energy efficiency

The European Union initiative dubbed the Renovation Wave, launched in late 2020, will put the spotlight on energy efficiency within the existing building stock. If successful, the ambitious targets of a doubled renovation rate for the next 10 years will definitely leave its mark on the buildings in which we spend our time, and will also make a huge contribution in terms of reducing Europe’s carbon footprint.

Big changes in the heating and cooling business

As mentioned on this blog, during the autumn there is not just a phase-out of the old energy classes going on, as of January 2021 the second step of the Ecodesign directive concerning chillers and heat pumps is coming into effect, putting high demands on products available on the European market. There are also tougher requirements for refrigerants scheduled for 2021, with the ambitious target of reducing the CO2 equivalent emissions by 55% compared to the 2015 baseline. But it also means an increased complexity in finding the right refrigerant for each application.

Building certifications

Another topic that has quietly and steadily gained in importance are building certifications, where the scale has now definitely tipped and these certifications is not just relevant for a few high-profile projects, but is now widely recognised to make sound financial sense in a wide array of buildings and locations. Also, the scope of the buildings certification themselves is increasing, from the earlier focus on energy to the much more comprehensive WELL certification, which is becoming more common around the world.

What’s on the horizon for 2021?

There are some converging areas where technology is reaching a level of maturity to solve new challenges, which could be the next big thing within the industry. Smart buildings have been talked about for quite some time, but there is now technology available to move from fun features to fundamental functionalities such as the indoor climates in the buildings. What it requires is a combination of availability through API solutions for data exchange, products made for connectivity and a system approach to make it all work together without endless adaptations. With the recent increase in IT-related attacks around the world, there is also the necessity to replace patchwork solutions of yesterday with stable system solutions to gain control of the IT environment.

And in the end, what we all try to achieve is healthy, sustainable buildings. There is an uprising demand to build smarter with materials that are climate friendly. That trend will definitively make an impact on future building and HVACR industry.

But right now, all of this is of course of secondary importance. First, we need to weather the ongoing pandemic and handle its human and economic consequences. Stay safe and see you 2021!