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The heat is on

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With the estimated power consumption due to HVAC constituting nearly 55% of the total consumption of any commercial building, energy efficiency has become a critical issue today. Niranjan Mudholkar finds out more from some of the key players in this field.

G one are the days when having a heating, ventilating & air conditioning (HVAC) system was considered a luxury affordable by very few. In fact, as DS Raghuvanshi, GM-MEP, K Raheja Corp says, it is now an absolute necessity for human comfort as well as for business processes.

Little surprise that the power consumption on account of HVAC is as big as 55% of the total consumption of any commercial building. Let’s put that into a better perspective. According to Raghuvanshi, electrical consumption in India for commercial buildings is 21.6 billion kWh/annum and for residential building is 36.0 billion kWh/annum. Together, that accounts for 10% of the total electricity usage in India.

Consider this against the power shortage in our country as well as the environmental impact of power generation and consumption. Thus, it has become an imperative to use energy efficient HVAC systems for providing high standards of comfort while keeping their operating costs under control.

Obviously, using energy efficient HVAC systems and services can not only result in enhanced occupant comfort as well as reduced energy and operational costs but also show responsible behaviour towards environment. This is applicable for new buildings as well as in existing buildings (for retrofits).

Thankfully, our leading HVAC providers have demonstrated serious commitment towards giving the right kind of systems that are energy efficient, meet customer demands and also deliver in terms of return on investment (ROI). Let us understand how they are doing it.

Blue Star’s deputy GM, C Madhanagopal, who is in-charge of the company’s total facilities management & energy management business, says that his company has been a pioneer in the field of energy efficient cooling systems in the country.

Blue Star offers many energy efficient products such as high COP chillers, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems, variable frequency drive (VFD) fitted AHU systems and packaged air conditioners. “In fact, our R&D team develops all products on the energy efficiency platform.

Under the energy labelling program of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Blue Star has many star-rated split air conditioners,” says Madhanagopal. With over 30 BEE certified energy auditors, Blue Star, a Grade I Energy Service Company (ESCO) provides many value added services such as investment grade energy audits and energy efficiency studies which give a minimum of 10-20% savings in energy costs of an existing building.

“Besides this, we offer Green building consultancy services through our USGBC certified LEED accredited professionals. And all this results in overall improvement of the energy efficiency of the built environment,” adds Madhanagopal.

Krishan Sachdev, director, marketing & strategy, Carrier Airconditioning & Refrigeration Ltd, explains the role played by his firm in promoting energy efficiency in HVAC systems. “Carrier has been synonymous with environmentally sustainable stewardship in the AC and refrigeration industry for decades.

Today, there is a pressing need for innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions. Carrier offers a wide range of environmentally responsible heating, AC and refrigeration products. Carrier led the industry in the phase out of ozone-depleting refrigerants and ceased global production of CFC-based equipment well ahead of the deadline in the Montreal Protocol,” Sachdev informs.

It is a fact that Carrier was the first company in the world to introduce a commercial chiller that uses a non-ozone depleting refrigerant in 1996. “Carrier’s commitment to green technologies includes offering BEE star rated air-conditioning products and being a founding member of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Almost all Carrier residential products are BEE star-rated,” adds Sachdev.

Pankaj Gupta, energy & environmental affairs leader, India region, Trane India Ltd, briefly notes his firm’s contribution in this regard. “Trane plays a key role by providing energy efficient equipment and by demonstrating financial benefits as well as environmental impact of choosing these.

While the role of HVAC providers is critical, equally important is the part played by companies in associated sectors. Let’s take the example of DRI, a company that sells air to air heat exchangers. Varun Pahwa, executive VP, DRI tells us more. He says: “These energy recovery wheels recover large amounts of energy from the stale but conditioned air being exhausted out of buildings.

We are one of the largest manufacturers of this product in the world. The application of this product is mostly commercial buildings like – hotels, malls, office complexes, IT parks, BPO centres, cinema halls, hospitals, educational institutions etc.” In these buildings, due to the presence of large numbers of people, large quantity of fresh air is required to maintain good indoor air quality (IAQ).

“We focus on optimising the energy performance of air conditioning systems resulting in considerable reduction in installed tonnage, reduction in utility bills for entire life cycle, enhanced IAQ and productivity, and reduced health risks. We offer a wide range of products like treated fresh air units, heat recovery wheels, energy recovery ventilators, CO2 Sensors, dedicated outdoor air systems, evaporative cooling pads and coolers, evaporative cooling modules for AHUs and chillers,” Pahwa says.

Pramoda Karkal, VP & MD, building efficiency, Johnson Controls India brings out the initiatives taken by his firm. “Our expertise spans the entire building lifecycle, including planning, operations and ongoing maintenance for buildings of every size, shape and variety. We deliver comprehensive solutions integrating renewable energy sources and helping reduce the heating and cooling bills. We provide the BAS which monitor and control building utilities such as AC, lighting, hydro-pneumatic pumps, elevators etc.

Monitoring provides information while control enables energy management. We also manufacture and install AC systems with among the best input KW per ton of cooling. Technological innovation in both BAS and AC systems are on-going,” he says.

Johnson Controls played a role in making 2008 Beijing Olympics, the most ‘Green’ Olympics in history. “We are also working with the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building retrofit program, which is dedicated to reduce carbon emissions in existing public and private building and the very first agreement of this initiative was signed in Mumbai, India with K. Raheja for Inorbit Mall,” informs Karkal.

This brings us to a very important issue – customer awareness. The example given by Karkal is definitely that of a key player. It is a founder member of the IGBC and its director, Ravi Raheja, is the chairman of IGBC Mumbai chapter.

In fact, K Raheja is the first real estate company to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for implementation of Green Buildings on a Pan–India basis and is committed build all its future commercial buildings as LEED certified Green buildings.

Indeed, as Karkal says, general awareness is developing among most of the corporates, developers and retailers. “We see an emergence of a discerning customer who is now concerned about both the first cost as well as the operating cost. Most organisations have full time facility managers and some have energy managers whose entire focus is directed towards the most effective utilisation of energy,” he says.

Sachdev adds: “The concept of energy saving is relatively new in India but has picked up momentum recently. The consumer is now making more informed decision. The role played by BEE is commendable.”

Raghuvanshi offers the customer perspective. He says: “Years back, developers were talking about, say 400 TR chillers – but now they specifically ask manufacturers many questions including COP (Co-efficient Of Performance) of chillers to ascertain the best efficiency of the systems.

Earlier they were working with thumb rules like ‘1 TR AC equipment would be required for 100 sq ft of closed area’ but now they talk about heat load and selection of equipment thus covering 300-400 sq ft of area with 1 TR AC. They have adopted the latest technology, best of equipments and building materials, along with building management systems to achieve 15-20% reduction.”

Of course, the change in customer awareness has not come overnight. In fact, HVAC providers themselves have been at the forefront in educating customers. Most companies today spread the word by conducting/facilitating seminars, participating in exhibitions and having one-on-one meetings with customers.

Each company is trying to do its bit. For example, Blue Star, besides having accredited auditors, is planning to help deserving institutions such as hospitals and colleges to save power by conducting free walk-through energy audits. “To start with, we have covered 10 institutions in Mumbai, where we have carried out energy audits on a pro-bono basis,” says Madhanagopal.

“We are also associated with all the bodies working in this direction – TERI, BEE, PCRA, IGBC, etc. Also our website is a great source of information on energy management and sustainability,” says Karkal of Johnson Controls. Trane’s Gupta says that his company too participates in various forums like the Green Building Council, ACEREX, ISHARE shows etc. “We too are associated with BEE and are accredited as Grade I ESCO company in India,” he adds.

Our country is indeed heading towards the right direction with regards to implementation of energy efficient HVAC systems. It is important to acknowledge the contributions of organisations like IGBC, BEE, ISHRAE, ASHRAE India and so on. Of course, this is just the start and lot will be required in terms of both commitment as well as technological innovations. Thankfully, we have started to see both.

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