HVAC Solutions: Energy efficiency in buildings

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(Pic: Life Cycle services solutions.)

As India seeks to meet housing, infrastructure and carbon reduction goals, Thanik B feels it is imperative to have energy efficient buildings that bridge the deficit gap between these targets.

Thanik B

Thanik B

With the NDA Government quickly getting into its stride, it now wishes to fulfil manifesto promises of better infrastructure, affordable homes for all and better utilisation of resources. But even as the nation seeks to quickly bridge infrastructure shortfalls, it is faced with the conflicting interest of lowering its carbon trail while overcoming energy and resource deficits. This is where HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) solutions can spell the difference between success and failure, allowing the Government to meet its tall targets on various fronts.

Whether residential, commercial or industrial, buildings account for about 8% of India’s total power utilisation. Energy efficiency in HVAC solutions can therefore make a major difference in curbing power bills. With the building industry growing at 11–12% annually, this is almost double the 6% growth rate the electricity sector registers. Moreover, while buildings in America and Europe possess an Energy Performance Index (EPI) of less than 150 kWH/sq. m/year, most commercial buildings in India are saddled with an EPI of between 200 and 400 kWH/sq. m/year. For better business health as well as the wellbeing of the environment, it is imperative that Indian buildings drive energy efficiency even in their HVAC solutions.

Energy Efficiency in HVAC Solutions
Naturally, HVAC solutions are the core component for controlling energy usage in buildings, while optimizing the ambience for better performance and enhanced energy efficiency. HVAC controls connect and control the building management systems and their response to physical environmental conditions, including temperature, air displacement speed, moisture and carbon dioxide emission. The use of HVAC can ensure up to 40% reduction of energy consumption in a building through improved control and management of its systems.

This is achieved through a combination of temperature, shutter and lighting control devices. With the deployment of intelligent systems lighting will depend upon people’s presence in a room, while heating controls will be adjusted at the required temperature and set into standby mode whenever a window is opened. Automatic lighting control is achieved via movement detectors that control lights and roller blinds according to movement detection in corridors and staircases. Heating control is achieved by heat being supplied automatically at the precise time required and individually through controllable room temperature control units. Consequently, there is no need to turn the radiator up and down manually.

It is important to have HVAC machines that require short start-up times and simple commissioning and at the same time with lowest possible electrical consumption that are easy to maintain and have an excellent functionality/ price ratio. Adding intelligence to building management solutions; for e.g. Building Optimisation can help achieve the best of both worlds while lowering HVAC costs up to 25%, which reduces total energy use up to 8%.

Building Optimisation software communicates with your building management system (BMS) via a control interface in the cloud. Gathering data from a wide range of internal and external sources, including weather forecasts, energy rate tariffs and demand response events, Building Optimisation predicts the building’s energy consumption, cost and comfort needs under varying conditions. Then, predictive algorithms optimise the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system parameters based on forecasted conditions – automatically and continuously without human interaction.

By continually optimising the HVAC system’s energy consumption and pre-planning its operations, Building Optimisation enables reduced energy expense, improvement in property’s valuation by increasing net operating income, freeing up of resources via automated, real time monitoring and lower carbon footprint.

HVAC in India
With the Indian Government seeking to ensure affordable housing for all Indians while also addressing its energy requirements, the HVAC market in India is bound to grow at a robust pace. The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) estimates that India’s HVAC products market has grown from Rs10,000 crore in 2010 to about Rs15,000 crore in 2013. Energy efficiency efforts are gaining traction because the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) promotes energy saving measures by the industry as well as individuals. For instance, the BEE is promoting a drive to label energy efficient buildings. Such buildings not only boost people’s performance but reduce the carbon footprint of the entire building.

Clearly, the right HVAC solutions and controls can lead to energy savings and higher profitability for all users by curbing energy bills and maintenance costs, apart from boosting the lifespan of buildings. If other regulatory authorities and the BEE work in tandem to promote energy efficient structures and systems and the Government creates an enabling policy environment, the country could even emerge as a low-cost manufacturing hub for the HVAC industry.

If this happens, India would be better positioned to fulfil commitments on reducing its carbon trail while simultaneously meeting affordable housing goals.

(The author is Director Business Development & Strategy, Eco-Buildings Business, Schneider Electric India.)

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