Over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the need for healthy and comfortable homes and work spaces – with conversations on HVAC solutions going beyond comfort, temperature, and humidity, to include enhanced air quality, occupant health, an increasing focus on reduced pollutants, as well as energy efficiency.
While on one hand, the heating, cooling, air filtration, and air-conditioning industry is extremely essential in the Middle East – a part of the world known to battle harsher temperatures – on the other hand, it has also come under the scanner in terms of its increasing contribution to energy consumption and the region’s carbon footprint.
In an exclusive conversation with the MEP Middle East brand, the head of Business Development at Taqeef, Sandra Bou Madi, says: “We know the impact that HVAC has on energy consumption; in our region, up to 70% of energy consumption can be attributed to cooling. So, it’s our duty as HVAC professionals to constantly strive for new ways to reduce this impact. We need to be relentless in our drive to engineer energy efficiency into our cooling solutions.”
Although the HVAC industry has been making a conscious effort to address these challenges, and lower its impact on global climate change, the perspectives through which these solutions are approached could be more diverse.
Sandra Bou Madi explains: “Finding ways to more responsibly cool our built environments is the single most important theme for the HVAC industry and something that needs our biggest and brightest thinking to overcome.
“Solutions must be implemented not just through technology advances such as EER, energy recovery devices, error alerts, smart thermostats, but also by building in sustainability savings at every level, from space planning, design, and application integration.”
The head of business development at Taqeef also points to longer-term solutions in order to make these sustainability-focused positive changes “sustainable” for future generations.
“Education and legislation will be key drivers to us addressing this challenge and forcing behavioural change. Consumer demand continues to push the environmental agenda, and as engineers it’s our duty to not only engineer systems, but also engineer change,” Sandra Bou Madi adds.
“We need to tackle this head-on – with training, research, and product innovation we can demonstrate to the industry that even in a price-led market like ours, cleaner, greener cooling is always the right choice.”
Hope is not lost. If there’s anything that 2020 has taught the HVAC industry – it’s resilience.
The senior application and design engineer at Taqeef, Aimee Younes, says: “We often see the greatest progress in the most challenging times, and over the past year we’ve seen themes such as climate change, conscious consumerism, and health and wellbeing take centre-stage. This could have positive future impacts on the HVAC industry.”
With people working from home; with schools on remote learning for extended periods of time; and with many people powering through quarantines and other precautionary measures, the amount of time spent within four walls has increased exponentially – and this is having a serious fallout in the HVAC sector.
Aimee Younes explains: “With consumers spending more time at home, we’ve seen energy bills increase, and concerns about health and wellbeing are at an all-time high. These, I believe, will drive new commercial behaviours as building owners look for more efficient and intuitive AC systems, which not only reduce their — and their tenants’ – bills, but also feature built-in IAQ and health and wellness benefits such as filtering and self-cleaning.”
She concludes: “This could accelerate the industry’s move away from a value business model – which puts price as the primary driver to HVAC specification – towards a more circular business model, where life-cycle costs and impacts, along with future consumer habits, factor-in to the specification process. It’s an exciting time to be joining the HVAC industry and to be part of a future of greener cleaner cooling.