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Are we prepared for a shakedown?

Balancing energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ), as an action, is likely to pick up speed. While the debate rages on whether or not the minimum number of fresh air changes needs to be revised to improve IAQ, there is consensus on the need to firmly see it as just one among other measures, […]

| | May 16, 2021 | 4:00 pm
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Balancing energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ), as an action, is likely to pick up speed. While the debate rages on whether or not the minimum number of fresh air changes needs to be revised to improve IAQ, there is consensus on the need to firmly see it as just one among other measures, to ensure energy consumption is driven down and not up.

Now, could we consider a hypothetical situation, where energy consumption is driven down to such an extent that it becomes possible to cut some slack for the sake of better IAQ – to minimise the spread of infectious diseases and harmful chemicals like radon? It may not be hypothetical at all. If COVID-19 profoundly triggers chastened governments to mandate better IAQ across all building types, there is bound to be a shakedown.

Now, are we prepared for a shakedown that would not lead to increase in emissions or total cost of ownership? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. The nagging question is, are we missing out on various opportunities to lower energy use in buildings, which in turn, would help us improve IAQ? Even the low-hanging-fruit type? The answer is a loud ‘YES’.

Surendar Balakrishnan

Over the years, purveyors of various technologies have chosen the pages of Climate Control Middle East to highlight specific solutions, including evaporative cooling systems, energy-recovery wheels, air curtains, glazing, VFDs, hollow-core systems, smart controls and monitoring. There have been those that have come forward with innovative or well-proven construction, installation, commissioning and O&M strategies. And there have been those that have suggested re-examining certain policies that could strongly persuade building owners from taking an energy-profligate approach.

Dismally enough, in many instances, lack of specialised contracting and project management expertise has prevented the possibility of even sophisticated systems delivering on their potential. And in several instances, the various solutions and strategies have been delivered in silos, as opposed to in a comprehensive manner – as part of a total system approach. True, the sceptre of cost of a total system approach has bogged developers down, but that has been a result of myth subduing logic, or of cynicism that they would not be able to recover the cost of investment. And so, we as an industry continue to stumble.

I am sorry, but this simply has to change, so we can help countries and regions achieve their emission-reduction targets and so that the people inhabiting them breathe clean air and don’t have to suffer through a protracted pandemic.

 


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