Just how bad for the planet is air conditioning?

With negative press about air conditioning, Martin Fahey explores the issues behind the headlines.

You may have noticed recent headlines in the Press such as “Air conditioning to tackle summer heat waves causes surge in deadly pollution”, and “How trying to stay cool could make the world even hotter” and this may have left you feeling that the debate on the merits of air conditioning has focused rather too much on the negative impact of increasing energy use, rather than the sometimes lifesaving and performance benefits of keeping people cooler during such incredibly hot spells.

And certainly there were a mixed review of comments under the most recent piece in the Independent but in the main, I think common sense has prevailed, which mirrors the two keys message that we as an air conditioning manufacturer have long advocated.

1)      Modern commercial buildings will often still need some  level of cooling, especially in weather like we have experienced recently, but also because of the increase in heat-generating equipment in buildings and improving building standards that keep heat inside a building (a positive in the cooler months).

2)      The vast majority of UK homes DO NOT need energy consuming cooling, they actually need better ventilation. A widespread uptake in domestic cooling in the UK is unnecessary and unsustainable, especially when you look at the carbon reduction targets that the country is legally obliged to meet in the coming years.

Of course there are exceptions to Point 2 such as the elderly and vulnerable, but there are also short term solutions that can be found during heat waves.

Mixed use

It is also true that there is now a move towards inner city apartments, with sealed windows, in multi-use buildings, where a more holistic approach to the whole heating, cooling and ventilation mix is required, so that we can find ways to help meet the ambitious and legal carbon reduction targets.

And this for me is the deeper truth behind the articles.

Almost everything we do in modern life now consumes energy and if we want buildings that are comfortable to live, work and rest in, then we will often have to have some form of cooling, alongside the need for heating (space and hot water) and ventilation.

What is so important though, is to ensure that these systems are designed, specified, installed, commissioned and operated properly, so that they can deliver the comfort needed in the most energy efficient ways possible. This should also come after the building itself has been made efficient, by reducing water through the fabric of the building, thus reducing the loads needed, both heating and cooling, to control the building within the range that is required.

As a responsible manufacturer, we try to ensure that we not only provide the highest quality products that will operate using the minimum of energy needed at any one time, but then you would expect us to say this, wouldn’t you.

What we also do to go above and beyond this is look at every aspect of our production so that this also mitigates any impact on the environment and this has led to more use of recycled and recyclable materials in a process that focuses on the whole life of a product, including responsible disposal.

Raising standards

This asks our Diamond Quality Partners to submit themselves and their installations to independent audits which verify the quality of their installation work and prove that our beautifully designed and engineered machines are installed and commissioned with the same care.

The next step though is to increase understanding of the power that even a simple control system can offer to building operators to ensure that no energy is wasted.

This article was originally featured on The Hub.  To continue reading the next segment, More than just a time clock, visit: https://les.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/the-hub/bad-airconditioning

 

Good Practice in the Design of Homes

 

 

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Kirsty Hammond

SpecifierReview.com - The Building Products News Resource for Specifiers

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