Sustainability in Space-Cooling Solutions

Max Ma, ERS, for Zondits

Delivering space-cooling solutions has always been a constant balancing act between effectiveness, energy efficiency, and costs. The Advanced Cooling Challenge, launched during the Clean Energy Ministerial in June in San Francisco, further encourages major industry players to “deliver that cooling sustainably to more people.” Now another facet of sustainability – environmental friendliness – is gaining attention in the HVAC industry, in part because of stricter environmental regulations but mostly due to the growing consumer awareness. Leading HVAC equipment manufacturers, such as Trane and Honeywell, have committed substantial resources to reduce the environmental impact of mechanical cooling. Their well-defined efforts stretch from the R&D on refrigerants and solvents with low global warming potential (GWP) to the retrofitting of existing chillers with potential future refrigerants with low GWP. Other companies are developing supportive services in tandem, from refrigerant recycling to alternative refrigerant evaluation and expanding low GWP options into more product lines. Together, HVAC industry players are well on their way to meeting the goals outlined in the ministerial’s Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative – to “sell, promote or install super-efficient air conditioner or cooling solutions that are smart, low global warming potential and affordable.” With a concerted effort, trading one aspect of sustainability for another may soon become a dilemma of the past.

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Phasing Out Refrigerants Doesn’t Have to Mean Using More Energy

GreenBiz, July 11, 2016

Long before companies made managing energy consumption a corporate priority, the dialogue centered on a dizzying matrix of regulations governing their use of ozone-depleting refrigerants — the stuff that keeps freezers frozen and building heating and cooling equipment chilled.

For building managers in particular, that traditionally has been far from simple. That’s because the same chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that poke holes in the earth’s ozone layer when they leak are what keep heating, ventilation and air-condition (HVAC) equipment running so effectively.

Now, however, some of the biggest names in HVAC technology are prioritizing innovation that balances the use of refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP) and the demand for better energy efficiency. Ingersoll Rand, for one, has committed $500 million in research and development to surmounting this challenge between now and 2020. Honeywell plans to spend almost twice that amount to increase production of low-GWP refrigerants, insulation, aerosols and solvents.

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