This month the UK government published their ‘Net Zero Strategy’ as part of their plan to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
What is net zero carbon emissions?
Net zero emissions means for all carbon emissions you produce, you offset this by removing an equal amount.
This creates a balance between all the greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere to be carbon neutral.
How can you achieve low or net zero emissions?
Net zero emission buildings means they are efficient and only use the amount of energy needed.
Any extra energy that is produced can be sent back into the grid to power other buildings to reduce their emissions.
Why are carbon emissions a problem in the HVAC industry?
Air conditioners and electric fans are responsible for almost 20% of the total electricity used in buildings worldwide.
Buildings are a big part of producing CO2 emissions, making up 40% of them, with 30% of energy wasted.
If the issue isn’t addressed, then demand for cooling appliances will more than triple by 2050, increasing harmful carbon emissions.
Why should we care about zero emissions?
All these emissions are leading to global warming. If we don’t reduce emissions and the temperature rises 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, then extreme weather issues such as floods and fires will become more frequent. This will lead to crops failing which could leave the poorest without food. Sea levels will also rise, leading to mass migration as millions become homeless.
What are the benefits to the HVAC industry of having net zero emissions?
A third of consumers prefer brands that are socially or environmentally responsible. If HVAC companies can show they care about the environment then they could see increased sales from eco-conscious consumers who will choose them over other companies.
Companies can influence the consumer and be a positive influence for promoting sustainability which in turn will build trust for their brand.
No fuel poverty
If housing becomes sustainable then it could end fuel poverty. Environmentally friendly properties will only use what they need and may have energy to spare to help others.
This lowers the cost of energy for households and businesses.
Costs less in the long-term
Admittedly it does cost a little more to build eco-friendly homes, but it only adds around £4 a month to a typical £100,000 mortgage.
In the long-term it saves money because they are energy efficient and there is little maintenance compared to traditional properties.
In total there could be a 25% improvement in energy efficiency and savings of around £138 in utility bills.
All consumers want to save money, so if a HVAC company can be sustainable and offer this to customers then their business will increase.
The HVAC industry will also benefit from retrofitting old systems which would be a huge undertaking which will bring plenty of business to the industry.
Sustainable practices makes working easier as systems can be built away from the site and assembled in place quickly. This not only saves engineers time but gives them flexible working.
The issues for the HVAC industry
To get to zero net carbon emissions there needs to be radical change within the building industry, government, building regulations, and financial institutions.
Changing the culture of establishments can be difficult and takes time which could cause a problem since the government’s targets have time limits.
There needs to be clear leadership to make this happen. Specialists in heating and cooling technologies need more collaboration as there has been in renewable power.
Both national and international alliances need to be formed to give clear guidance to the process and to hold everyone accountable for ensuring targets are met.
The government also needs to ensure its plans are carried out within the timeframes and stick to this. Their strategy could go further to support building efficiency and do this in a faster timeframe.
New innovations are needed for the technology and infrastructure to produce a low-carbon transition in the heating and cooling industry.
This takes resources and skills to make this happen within the appropriate timeframes.
Lack of resources
Now and in the future, there could be issues with resources in the manufacturing of HVAC systems.
There could also be skills shortages for the installation of these systems.
Limited use in current housing
It is far easier to build sustainable housing than adjust current housing. While there are things that can be done in existing housing, these measures will not be able to go far enough to create energy efficient homes.
What can the HVAC industry do?
In the government’s strategy they announced a £60 million Heat Pump Ready programme to provide funding to pioneering heat pump technologies.
The government aim to have 600,000 installations a year by 2028. This is a lot of investment that HVAC companies could take advantage of to increase their business.
There is also funding available for their Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme and Home Upgrade Grants worth £1.75 billion and £1.425 billion for the public sector.
This creates lots of opportunities for work for the HVAC industry.
HVAC companies can lead the way in creating innovative systems such as smart devices.
This not only makes buildings more energy efficient but it could allow HVAC engineers to work remotely to fix issues.
The outcome for the HVAC industry
The governments strategy to have net zero emissions is certainly possible and could be simple to implement.
There are more benefits than disadvantages for the HVAC industry to get behind the strategy.
It is a chance to lead the way in sustainability, to create better technology, and to be more efficient.
This can only lead to satisfied consumers, help our environment, and help increase expenditure in the industry.