Every year when Halloween is coming up, we start thinking about what we find unnerving on a larger scale. One of the things that stood out this year was how industries around the globe affect global warming. The impact some businesses and industries overall have on the planet is quite frankly scary. Ranging from deforestation for palm oil production, over generating mass amounts of plastic waste, to polluting the air with exhaust emissions when transporting goods.
There are certain things that businesses, regardless of which industry they operate in, can do to minimise their negative effect on the environment. Examples include choosing renewable energy suppliers, using electric vehicles, or reducing single-use plastics. For businesses in the HVAC, refrigeration and building controls industry, there are more detailed steps that can be taken to reduce a company’s environmental footprint.
2020 has been a year with an abundance of scary news, often outwith our control to fix. So what can be done about the industry’s environmental impact?
Choose Open Protocol Solutions
Operating HVAC, refrigeration, lighting and other building infrastructure on closed or proprietary protocols can be harmful to the environment. Equipment based on closed protocols can only operate within the one communication system it was designed for. Essentially, it binds the user to one manufacturer.
If the user is looking to upgrade or retrofit equipment, their goal might not always be possible to achieve, depending on the products and solutions available from their existing manufacturer. This could result in equipment being replaced before it is necessary, leading to equipment in good working order being sent to landfills. Alternatively, if the equipment doesn’t get upgraded, it can lead to systems running inefficiently and wasting valuable resources.
Implement a Predictive Maintenance Strategy
A study conducted by the US Department of Energy has concluded that predictive maintenance can decrease equipment breakdowns by up to 75% and increase production by up to 25%. It therefore does not only reduce maintenance costs and the associated use of resources, such as additional call-outs requiring travel. It also contributes to running the system more efficiently and thereby using less energy which reduces the carbon footprint further.
Install Automation Software
Installing automation software allows complete control of HVAC, refrigeration, lighting and other building control devices. It is key to creating a streamlined facility operating at its best capacity. Automation software, such as programmable logic controller (PLC) software, allows facility managers to be in control of all devices and runs automatically once set up.
With PLC software, all devices connected via the internet of things (IoT) and part of the building management system (BMS) can be automated. Without it in place, there is the potential for devices to work less efficiently, or worse, at cross purposes. Lights might be left on after close of business, windows opened while the heating is running, or unnecessary equipment never turned off. Automation is predicted to reduce energy costs by up to 70%.
Analyse Data from Smart Devices
Smart devices are offering insights into the operating efficiency of any type of facility at an unprecedented scale. However, a study has found that 42% of businesses keeping data generated by their building do not use it. If data is simply being stored and not analysed, a huge opportunity for improvement is missed.
Analysing data allows users to identify areas that are not operating efficiently and are therefore wasting energy. But most importantly, being aware of where the issues are enables businesses to resolve problems, reducing resource use, lowering the environmental impact and cutting operating costs.
Verify the Supply Chain
By choosing suppliers who themselves are committed to environmentally-friendly practices, businesses are contributing to reducing their environmental footprint and that of the entire industry. Manufacturers who are invested in protecting the environment, whether it is through ensuring harmful production residues due not enter the ecosystem or reducing CO2 emissions, will pass their positive impact on in the supply chain.
Choose Natural Refrigerants
For businesses in the refrigeration industry, this point will not come as a surprise. Since the f-gas regulations were first debated and subsequently have come into force, much discussion within the industry has revolved around the subject. F-gases used as refrigerants have been shown to have a global warming potential (GWP) of 150. If compared to natural refrigerants, which have a GWP of almost zero, it is self-evident why the switch to implementing them in any refrigeration application will have a tremendous effect on lowering the environmental impact of a business and in turn of the industry as a whole.
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