With the release of the last IPCC-report, along with soaring energy prices, more and more people have become urgently aware of the troublesome picture the world is facing. The climate change is impacting every corner of the world and even more severe impacts are to come if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our dependency on oil and gas. There are many initiatives on-going to improve the situation, but one of the most energy consuming segments of our society often tends to be overlooked – our buildings.
The buildings and building constructions sectors combined are responsible for 40% of the total global final energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions1. Still, it receives less focus in the general debate compared to other sectors, such as transport or industry. So far it has been overshadowed in the debate, but in fact there is enormous potential for energy efficiency improvements in our building stock. And it doesn’t require science fiction solutions – we can do it with existing technology already on the market.
Imagine coming across a car owner, who lets the engine run at full speed at all times, and who is regulating the speed by hitting the breaks, instead of just giving the engine as much fuel as needed. This would seem like complete madness, but it is actually similar to what we see every day as we open windows in buildings, at the same time as the ventilation and heating is running at full speed. The waste is enormous and there are several ways to reduce it immediately:
- Recovery of heating and cooling – ventilation with recycling via heat exchangers can save up to 90% of the energy that we lose when we open the window to ventilate.
- System optimization – smart functions that analyse the need in the building and ensure that we only ventilate, heat and cool as much as needed, which can save up to 80% of the fan energy and 40% of the heat energy.
- Smart control functions that optimise the production of heating and cooling in relation to the ventilation, can provide another 15% in energy savings.
- Heat pumps have great potential in replacing fossil fuel heating, and with natural refrigerants such as propane, the environmental gains are even greater.
- Upgrades of existing products and systems – the basic physical structure of ventilation products can often last for decades. Instead of replacing the entire units, the electronics and moving parts can be updated, gaining more energy-efficient operation with a minimal carbon footprint in the manufacturing process.
On top of the positive energy aspects, smarter indoor climate systems also have enormous potential in terms of improved health and productivity for the people who spend their time in the buildings.
In times when we are facing immense climate and energy challenges, we must start with the actions with the most effect. Reducing waste admittedly might not reach the headlines in the same way as the electrification of our car fleet or the exploration of new sustainable sources of energy. But reducing waste will not require decades of research, scaling up of production or infrastructure investments. Instead, the technology is proven and widely available today. And a saved kilowatt is actually worth more than a kilowatt produced, as there are neither production nor distribution losses.
Our contribution is clear – with our systems we can reduce the energy consumption in buildings radically and with immediate effect, making a clear difference. Reducing waste is always a win, and we cannot afford to wait.