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Buildings are as described an interesting and important focus - as they are major energy users. An increased focus on design is necessary but the focus on ensuring efficient operation during the buildings life must also increase. Based on many years of experience working with measuring performance and optimisation of air-conditioning on all continents I believe that the focus on actual operating efficiency in both existing and new buildings must increase. There is often a saving potential of 20-30% or more in most buildings at low cost which is true in all markets and applications we have experience of. The challenge is “business as usual” where no validation of actual performance during normal operation is done in air-conditioning systems. This has partially been due to the historical lack of cost-effective methods for measuring performance in the field - If the system cools the building - it has been believed to be efficient.
The servicing sector makes money on failures not low energy consumption and equipment owners expect service to include optimisation but pay for lowest cost service contract as they rarely have the technical know-how to appreciate the importance of measuring performance and optimising systems. To focus on energy optimisation is not an alternative to good design but it is a prerequisite to achieve efficiency in both new and existing buildings. Optimisation of air-conditioning is the “low hanging fruit” but it requires a new focus and awareness among the owners that 20-30% of electricity often can be saved at low or no investment (besides the work involved). At the same time it is well known that an efficient system almost by definition is a reliable system with low cost for repairs and long life time expectancy.
As many of the fast growing economies are in hot climate air conditioning loads play a major roll and need special attention. They often consume 40-60% of the electricity in a modern building and cause a major challenge for production capacity as well as supply grids in many countries. Globally 20% of the electricity is estimated to be used in air-conditioning and refrigeration whereas in i.e. India it is estimated to 35%.