Ambitions on the rise – on a global scale What are the key trends that are likely to dominate 2023 within the world of HVAC? Here is a best guess based on the hot topics of 2022, and where we can expect a switch from words to actions during next year.
The all-consuming topic of energy savings
For obvious reasons, the quest for energy savings has been on everyone’s mind during 2022. The topic was already hot for sustainability reasons, and with the worst geopolitical crisis for decades on our hands, prices skyrocketed and energy suddenly went to the top of every meeting agenda.
With HVAC systems all around the world consuming large amounts of energy, whatever we can do to create more efficient solutions will have a big impact. We have talked about a wide range of actions – the natural place to start is to reduce waste. Other low hanging fruits include checking up on existing equipment, such as air handling units, to make sure it runs efficiently.
When moving over to more mid-term actions in 2023, monitoring and analyzing energy efficiency is a good start, and on a more practical level, installing demand-controlled indoor climate systems, will save a great deal of energy too. And we can’t just focus on new buildings, to achieve results we need to accelerate the upgrades of existing buildings with inefficient HVAC systems. The global challenge here is immense, and we must build up a new set of best practices – not forgetting that renovations doesn’t need to be about tearing down entire interiors of a building, a first step could be to focus on the digital side.
Among the long-term actions, is to apply a life-cycle perspective on HVAC installations, not only looking at the operation phase, but looking also at the cost of producing, transporting and recycling the installed products.
Balancing aspects of sustainability – don’t forget indoor environmental quality
With the above-mentioned hunt for kWh’s in mind, it’s tempting to reduce HVAC related energy consumption, by simply reducing ventilation rates and let indoor climate conditions slide. But there is an ever-growing insight within the building industry that sustainability starts in the room. A good indoor climate is vital for health and productivity. We have discussed the importance of good indoor climate in schools, sports facilities, large retail spaces and residential buildings – and just how important acoustics and humidity are, besides the temperature, air quality and other factors. To save energy by sacrificing the indoor climate is not an option – instead it’s all about working smarter, only spending energy where it is actually needed. To solve this, a systems approach to HVAC will become increasingly important in 2023.
Staying up-to-date with the development of heat pumps
In the Nordic countries, heat pumps have been widely used for decades, but for the last few years, they are rapidly becoming more common in other regions as well. Naturally, there is presently an increased need to understand the basics of these products, but there is also a need to catch up with the latest developments, in order to meet tougher sustainability targets. Lower energy consumption is one thing, but looking from a wider Global Warming Potential (GWP) perspective, the refrigerants used in these appliances are also highly important. Here propane constitutes a very interesting alternative, and in 2023 we are likely to see beyond some of the myths surrounding this refrigerant.
Gender & HVAC – a sustainability blind spot
Last but certainly not least, in 2023 we as an industry need to go from words to actions when it comes to the people aspects of sustainability, with the gender topic being a central aspect. First of all, HVAC is still a male-dominated business, and even if there are positive exceptions, this is a serious challenge. Research also shows that the way we design our buildings risk affecting women adversely, which then affects not only the HVAC business, but everyone spending time indoors. All taken into consideration, there are plenty of reasons to put gender equality on our agendas for 2023.
So, to conclude…
Looking at 2023, I personally both feel a sense of apprehension and excitement. With the HVAC sector having a substantial impact both on energy use including carbon emissions and people’s health and well-being, the responsibility we share as an industry is immense. But that’s also the exciting part – any improvements we can achieve will have a substantial impact for the better. Our work actually make a difference. So let’s take on the challenge and do our very best!