HVAC upgrades could help to reign in building emissions

April 30, 2012

There are a number of ways that commercial building owners can provide their tenants with value while also reducing the negative impact that their structure has on the environment.

Given the recent International Energy Agency report and data that shows a lack of climate change progress, energy efficient upgrades to buildings could help to both save the environment and monetary resources for companies.

Data from the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) showed that commercial building owners could save an average of 38 percent on their cooling and heating bills by installing new controls onto their HVAC systems.

According to the Energy Department's blog, the report highlights how commercial building owners should be financially motivated to update the technology used in their structures.

The report makes "a convincing case for manufacturers to produce more advanced HVAC controllers and for building owners to adopt these energy-saving methods," Srinivas Katipamula, an engineer with PNNL, told the news source.

The blog noted that the potential for savings in the commercial building market, especially for retrofits that include these advanced HVAC controls, is enormous due to the current high levels of waste that exist for many structures.

These types of changes are what the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is trying to enact. The U.S. Department of Energy-designated innovation HUB is working to promote retrofits on commercial structures across the country.

The GPIC is comprised of the brightest minds from academia, energy development companies, the private sector and government in the Greater Philadelphia region. The effort is looking to influence the commercial real estate sector to become more energy efficient and adopt a number of retrofit projects.

The GPIC also represents part of the attempt made by the U.S. government to reduce emissions and help reverse climate change. The EIA report highlights specific changes that could be made to the commercial buildings market, and the potential for significant reductions in energy use through the use of more efficient structures.

The Washington Post reported that the EIA report highlighted how public policy needs to work in conjunction with the private sector to initiate a change. Although data could specifically highlight the cost-saving potential for companies, they may need to be further incentivized by government programs.

According to the news source, the IEA estimates that meeting the initial and minimum target for reduced emissions would require $5 trillion in investments by 2020.