Building efficiency, quality remain major priorities for consulting engineers
Consulting engineers are working on reducing carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency with better sustainability and quality measures.
Efficiency and sustainability insights
- Daikin Applied is committed to reducing emissions, targeting a 50% reduction by 2030 and full decarbonization by 2050, emphasizing sustainable HVAC solutions.
- The focus on indoor air quality (IAQ) increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving innovation in ventilation and IAQ products for better building environments.
One of the biggest themes in manufacturing and engineering the last few years are sustainability and energy efficiency. While similar in theme and concept, they have distinct meanings. Energy efficiency focuses on using energy more efficiently and is part of a larger effort with sustainability, which involves a broader set of considerations, including not only energy use but also resource conservation, environmental protection, social well-being and economic viability.
For consulting engineers, these words are being hammered again and again regardless of what they focus on or emphasize. At the Daikin Global Sales Meeting (DGSM) in San Antonio, the question is achieving the net zero emissions many countries and institutions are trying to achieve by 2050. For many, 2050 is too long. It needs to be done as soon as possible.
Developing viable solutions to sustainability, efficiency
Rob Landes, director of HVAC systems applications at Daikin Applied, said of their company’s efforts: “We’ve got a target to reduce by 50% by 2030 and fully decarb by 2050,” he said. “We want to offer solutions to our customers and we have to look at our own emissions.”
Focusing on solution systems, according to Landes, is critical. “How do you control that and leverage products controls and sequences? We need to be thinking about how we decarbonize and electrify to make better sustainable choices?”
The rise of electrification will help and Daikin has emphasized heat pump technology and inverter compressor technology to move away from burning fossil fuels. The technology is sustainable and efficient enough to meet customer demands. However, there is a trade-off. More electric power means more stress on the power grid.
Making HVAC systems, drives and inverters more efficient will be critical and there were plenty of signs Daikin, along with many others in their industry, are emphasizing efficiency.
Efficiency, though, isn’t just about getting more for less in terms of power generation. There were many smart technologies on display to help give operators better information more quickly by gathering disparate amount of data through their devices and transmitting it to the cloud.
According to James Macosko, VP product management and applications at Daikin Applied Americas, the smart devices such as thermostats, alert systems and more are about giving the operator the ability to prevent and even predict when something happens before an HVAC unit has an issue and ends up causing major issues for a facility.
Indoor air quality’s importance grows
The air we breathe buildings got more attention in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While indoor air quality (IAQ) had been important, more attention was focused on this before.
“The silver lining is that we’re now more focused on the air we breathe,” said Zach Everett, manager and field sales engineer for Daikin Applied. “By bringing attention to IAQ, million other factors. Because that’s been brought to the forefront, that has allowed us to innovate and develop other products.”
For Tony Narnajo, principal at MEP Engineering, they were at the forefront with new school construction, which is their specialty.
“We had to quickly research and have our feelers out and what was going on,” he said. “We spent a lot of time working on learning about CDC ASHRAE recommendations. We did a lot of keeping up with them and a lot of it had to do with increasing ventilation air.”
That was especially important because much of their business is in Southern and Central Florida, where people have to contend with high humidity and temperatures. The idea of opening a window or two to get fresh air inside is not a practical solution.
The journey to better air quality, decarbonization and efficiency does vary, Landes said. “Every location is at a different place in their journey. Some parts of the country like the Northeast, and west coast are taking charge. Other regions are not as far along,” he said. “Same goes for companies. Everyone’s needs are different and the amount of focus is different.”
Focusing on solution systems, according to Landes, is critical. “How do you control that and leverage products controls and sequences? We need to be thinking about how do we decarbonize and electrify to make better sustainable choices?”
It’s a question that revealed itself in many throughout the event and it’s one that will be constantly talked about over the years and it will require many questions and self-reflection to keep striving to achieve those 2050 targets that have been laid out.
Olympic gold medalist and former goalie Jim Craig said it very well in his keynote speech Saturday. “You have to embrace change and become comfortable being uncomfortable,” he said. “Success happens when you believe in winning, and then you prepare to make it happen.”