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Balancing sustainability and affordability

Developing new technologies and products that are energy-efficient requires investment into research and materials. Does that mean expensive end solutions?

| | Apr 4, 2017 | 7:54 pm
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A topic that often crops-up during discussions on sustainable development is affordability. The perennial question being: Do products and technological solutions aimed at sustainable living and energy-efficiency mean expensive investments? For instance, how does one deliver affordable cooling? How to balance between product development and associated costs, and also ensure that it is not beyond the reach of the customers?

Energy efficiency and regulation does not come free, says John Mandyck, the Chief Sustainability Officer of United Technologies. “If you look at energy efficiency, the way machines become more energy efficient, in some cases we have to put more material into them. There’s more copper, there’s more steel, there’s more aluminium, so there’s more raw material costs for us. So that cost has to be passed on along the chain.”

With a call for HCFCs to be phase-down in the coming years, businesses must look for alternative refrigerants that meet the regulations. “If you look at the next transition of refrigerants that we are about to go through, there’s not only the research and development that is required but also the materials themselves are much more costly,” he says. “The HFO compounds today are more costly than the HFC compounds.”

This being an issue, Mandyck says there is a need to find a balance on how to achieve the environmental aims of regulation and innovation in a cost-effective manner.

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