HVAC systems function in a critical role in any building. Everyone becomes acutely aware of HVAC performance when malfunctions occur. The level of interest has only increased today. Whether concerns about energy efficiency, building sustainability, operations and maintenance, or indoor air quality (IAQ), more visibility is required.
A comprehensive discussion of the various stakeholder interests that impact the HVAC industry are detailed below. Change has arrived, whether overdue or not. Let’s take a tour of the broader dynamics and trends that will dictate the future of the HVAC service market.
As is well known, HVAC and lighting will typically consume the largest percentage of electricity in commercial buildings. Every building’s consumption profile will vary, of course, but an inescapable fact remains. HVAC equipment can represent roughly 40-60 percent of a building’s total energy consumption. No one should be surprised, therefore, that HVAC now represents a primary target for every energy efficiency effort.
The exact amount of energy consumed by HVAC and lighting in a given building can vary due to various factors. For example, the overall energy spend will depend on the types of equipment installed, climate, usage profiles and preferences, building age and construction profile, and other site-specific factors. A national average profile for commercial building energy consumption is illustrated in the following chart.
In and of itself, the quest for energy efficiency produces substantial benefits when considering a reduction in operational costs for a particular building. On-site facility management represents only a first element of the growing interest in HVAC system operation.
Interests that originate outside the confines of a building have increasingly become stakeholders in the operation of HVAC systems. For example, the environmental impact of buildings has become increasingly apparent. Many organizations recognize the value of green buildings and sustainability as part of their responsibility to more than just the bottom line. Green or sustainable practices within commercial buildings produce healthier and more resource-efficient models of operation and maintenance. The quest for net zero energy buildings highlights such an example:
“The building sector can significantly reduce energy use by incorporating energy-efficient strategies into the design, construction, and operation of new buildings and undertaking retrofits to improve the efficiency of existing buildings. It can further reduce dependence on fossil fuel derived energy by increasing use of on-site and off-site renewable energy sources.”
A holistic corporate initiative beyond flat perspectives of energy efficiency have become the modern-day theme. More than the bottom line, corporations recognize that their social responsibility cannot be ignored. As this recent example illustrates, HVAC and lighting efficiencies have been driven by the context of large-scale initiatives focused on a Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategy.
Stakeholder interests far beyond a building itself are driving interest in HVAC efficiency.