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Europe’s HVACR industry in the spotlight

Outgoing Eurovent President Alex Rasmussen shares his thoughts on industry developments, digitisation, the year 2030, and highlights of the upcoming Eurovent Summit, in Seville, with Climate Control Middle East. Excerpts…

| | Jul 16, 2018 | 10:28 am
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In May this year, it was three years for you at the helm of Eurovent. Could you evaluate your work in this time?

Alex Rasmussen

Throughout the past three years, I have continued the development path initiated by my predecessor, Christian Herten, to consolidate our association’s activities and initiated measures for sustainable development. At the Eurovent Association we have initiated various special projects keeping in mind the year 2030 and beyond. For example, the Product Group ‘Air Handling Units’ is working on an industry-first lifecycle cost standard and software that allows everyone to assess the performance of a unit over a lifetime.

One of our core priorities is to push the market for the highest possible focus on performance, quality and sustainability. Another important point is European legislation. We are actively involved with all major European Union product- and application-oriented regulatory measures which significantly impact our industry. While we fully support such measures and believe that they have pushed innovation, we should ensure that requirements remain achievable and enforceable. A last issue is globalisation. In Europe, we would do well to overcome national issues, while acting as one European industry. To support our industry, we have started to set up chapters abroad, with Eurovent Middle East being a prime example.

What are the main objectives of the association and how many national associations and companies does it represent?

With the addition of the Portuguese association EFRIARC and the Swiss association ProKlima this year, Eurovent is currently home to 18 national member associations and more than 1,000 manufacturers. European manufacturers are generally known worldwide for their product quality and high level of innovation. At Eurovent, it is our core objective to constantly push for the next level. We support strong and thought-through legislative requirements, contribute to the advancement of standards and raise awareness on state-of-the-art technologies in Europe and internationally.

Among the many objectives we have at Eurovent is uniting our industry and bringing people from the close to 50 countries within our organisation together. Our members appreciate that we introduce new markets, perspectives and sharpen the European idea. At Eurovent, even the strongest competitors can become friends.

In these three years, how have each of the sectors that are present in the association evolved? What are some important achievements and what is still to be achieved?

When I took over the Presidency, the tough times following the financial crisis were mostly overcome. With the exception of Russia, the European HVACR market has evolved in a stable manner. The Spanish market is on the way up, markets in Central and Eastern Europe have evolved well.

This stable development is also driven by European Union legislation such as the Ecodesign or F-Gas Regulation and the Energy Performance of Building’s Directive, which pushes consumers to invest in sustainable technologies.

One of the key points on which Eurovent focuses its attention on is energy efficiency. Do you think that the objectives set by the European Union for 2030 are sufficient?

In today’s Europe the application of state-of-the-art direct-driven EC fans are the norm. Refrigeration technologies with natural refrigerants are experiencing an impressive development. In Air Handling Units, incorporating energy recovery systems and high efficiency air filters is now considered a must. Innovative heat pumps can slowly but steadily be found in heating and cooling applications all over Europe.

We need to ensure that the 2030 plans make sense through, for instance, incorporating climate zones, focusing on not only heating recovery but also cooling and to take into account aspects such as controls that play an essential and useful role in pushing for even higher efficiency levels.

What do you think about the Ecodesign Regulations? Which solutions do you propose for their development?

Ecodesign Regulations were and are, surely, the right way to go. In Europe, we were the first continent entering such a forward-thinking direction.Yet, there are still challenges that need to be tackled. The level of enforcement and market surveillance needs to be increased; Ecodesign needs to evolve beyond energy efficiency, incorporating issues such as life-cycle costs, circularity and indoor air quality. Measures should be developed in a way that they can be usefully applied all over Europe and outside Europe. Manufacturers should receive enough time and information to prepare themselves for major changes.

What importance and benefits does the certification of HVAC products and equipment have? What role does Eurovent play in this regard?

At the beginning of the 1990s, our members have decided to set up ‘Eurovent Certified Performance’ schemes for various HVACR products. This became necessary due to a lack of regulation at the time. Over the past decades, ‘Eurovent Certified Performance’ has evolved into the leading certification scheme for HVACR products in Europe and is a recognised and trusted brand all over the world.

How impactful are the new digital technologies? Are companies prepared to adapt to all these changes? 

Digital technologies are surely having a large impact. Not only do they change the way in which users can control HVACR products, but they can also contribute to higher energy efficiency, comfort and safety. A particular focus of our members is also put on applying digital technologies throughout manufacturing processes and the entire supply chain.

We also want to use the Eurovent Summit to show that connectivity is not an all-purpose answer and bears certain risks such as data security.

On February 27, the new CEIS test laboratory was inaugurated in Madrid. How does Eurovent participate in this project?

Eurovent holds in-depth relations with many accredited laboratories across Europe. While we expect the maximum possible testing quality and accuracy, we do not favour one laboratory over another.

How do you judge recent developments in the field of F-Gases, the price increases, and the phase-down in general?

At Eurovent, we represent users of refrigerants and not refrigerant suppliers. We do not promote the usage of particular types of refrigerants, as long as they comply with the EU F-Gas Regulation. We fully support the European Union F-Gas Regulation and help other regions worldwide in implementing similar measures. Together with our partner association eurammon, we were one of the first to raise awareness on natural and alternative refrigerants from very early on.

Could you explain what is the PRODBIM project and what are its objectives?

As many formats of products coexist within BIM today, many manufacturers within the HVACR industry see a need for a harmonised, European library to ensure correct, accurate, and updated product data. This is where PRODBIM comes as a unified European solution, aiming to avoid a proliferation of different BIM databases across European member states.

Is there any relation between PRODBIM and ‘Eurovent Certified Performance’?

Participants do not need to be Eurovent certified to join the PRODBIM database. It is open to all manufacturers. The publicly available data of ‘Eurovent Certified Performance’ will be published on the PRODBIM database. Manufacturers do not have to enter any kind of data again that is already available. The data deriving from the ‘Eurovent Certified Performance’ database is certified.This data will also be highlighted as ‘certified’ in the PRODBIM database.

Organised by Eurovent, AEFYT and AFEC, at the end of September a new edition of the Eurovent Summit will be held in Seville. Why have you chosen Spain? What do you expect from this edition?

Each edition of our biennial flagship event EUROVENTSUMMIT is organised in a different region of Europe. The reasons for choosing Spain are manifold. Not only do we have two highly valued and dedicated member associations in Spain with whom we co-organise the Summit, AFEC and AEFYT, but also the Spanish market has revived following the financial crisis. Spain also historically acts as a bridge country towards Latin America.

What impact will the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU have on the importing companies?

At this stage, this is difficult to judge as the future relations between the EU and the UK are still not clear.

As most companies have European-wide supply chains, higher costs due to expected tariffs will eventually be passed on to the British consumer. Within Eurovent, our team is in regular touch with hundreds of manufacturers and does manufacturer visits on a weekly basis. They are reporting that many UK manufacturers are setting up offices on the mainland. The other way around, from the EU to UK, our members tend to reduce their investments due to increasing uncertainties.

All in all, the situation is very unfortunate and not really based on rational, economic grounds. For our industry and Europe as a whole, this is, bluntly speaking, a real shame.

If you wish, you can add a final comment.

I would like to cordially invite all readers of Climate Control Middle East to join us for the 2018 Eurovent Summit [September 25–28] in Seville.

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