I had the honor of attending the highly anticipated ASHRAE Developing Economies Conference 2023 in Mumbai, held on May 10th and 11th. This significant event brought together experts, professionals, and enthusiasts to explore the vital connection between decarbonization and sustaining growth in healthcare and residential infrastructure within emerging and future markets. With a strong emphasis on resilience, indoor environmental quality (IEQ), decarbonization, policies, and digitalization, the conference aimed to tackle the unique challenges faced by developing economies in their pursuit of sustainable development. It was a truly enlightening experience that showcased innovative solutions, strategic discussions, and a shared commitment to building resilient and sustainable infrastructure.
Conference Chair, Ashish Rakheja, emphasized the expanded reach of the event, now encompassing entire Global South economies, as they encounter similar challenges in expanding infrastructure in a cost-effective manner. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference placed particular importance on healthcare and the urgent need for carbon footprint reduction.
ASHRAE Mumbai Chapter President, Nivedita Jadhav, invited us to participate in the conference. I would like to express my sincere appreciation for her excellent leadership and the outstanding organization of this well-structured and informative conference. Her dedication to the organization and her commitment to advancing the field of HVAC&R in the region are truly commendable.
Stay tuned for my comprehensive coverage of the ASHRAE Developing Economies Conference 2023, where I will share the most significant insights, innovative ideas, and thought-provoking discussions that unfolded during this influential event
At the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UNFCCC in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2070. To support this ambitious goal, being into the HVAC Industry, I believe we need to start taking baby steps immediately.
The building HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) sector plays a crucial role in achieving carbon neutrality and promoting sustainability in the built environment. With growing concerns about climate change and the environmental impact of buildings, there is a pressing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency in HVAC systems.
One key aspect of carbon neutrality in the HVAC sector is the adoption of renewable energy sources. Integrating renewable energy technologies such as solar panels or geothermal systems can help buildings generate clean, carbon-free energy to power HVAC operations. By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, buildings can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Attended a round table discussion on District cooling systems and can India employ such an efficient system which plays a vital role in achieving carbon neutrality and enhancing energy efficiency in the HVAC sector. By adopting centralized cooling plants that supply chilled water to multiple buildings through underground pipes, district cooling offers numerous sustainability benefits. Firstly, it enables the utilization of large-scale, high-efficiency cooling systems that outperform individual building systems, resulting in substantial energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, district cooling systems provide opportunities for integrating renewable energy sources such as solar thermal or geothermal energy, allowing connected buildings to access carbon-free or low-carbon cooling sources. This aligns with the HVAC sector's carbon neutrality goals.
Another advantage of district cooling is its promotion of waste heat recovery. As the cooling process generates waste heat, this valuable resource can be captured and repurposed for heating water or supplying energy to neighboring buildings or industrial processes. By harnessing and reusing waste heat, district cooling systems minimize energy waste and maximize resource efficiency, further contributing to sustainability efforts in the HVAC industry.
In the pursuit of carbon neutrality and sustainability in the building HVAC sector, the adoption of sustainable practices and the establishment of supportive policy frameworks are crucial factors. A key aspect is the consideration of the entire life cycle of HVAC systems, encompassing design, manufacturing, installation, operation, and end-of-life management. By optimizing system performance, minimizing waste generation, and encouraging the recycling or repurposing of HVAC components, the industry can contribute to a more environmentally responsible and resource-efficient future.
To realize these objectives, robust policies and regulations play a vital role. Governments and industry organizations have the power to incentivize the adoption of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient HVAC systems through financial incentives, tax breaks, and the implementation of stringent energy codes. Additionally, education and awareness programs are essential to empower building owners, professionals, and occupants with the knowledge and tools needed to prioritize sustainability in their decision-making processes.
I have attended a few sessions from the Healthcare Section and few from Residential Section on the topics which I was curious to learn more about. Here are the key important session, I would like to share with you.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a member of the World Bank Group that focuses on promoting sustainable private sector investment in developing countries. With this mission, the IFC provides financing, advisory services, and industry expertise to help businesses overcome challenges and create positive social and environmental impacts.
In TechMerge Program, currently they are focusing on Health, RESILIENCE and Sustainable Cooling. Cooling is essential for economic development, productivity, human health, and food security, but it also has significant climate impacts. With cooling demand rising rapidly, TechEmerge connects innovators worldwide and leading companies in emerging markets to accelerate the adoption of affordable, energy-efficient solutions that provide cooling for all while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. They are running multiple initiatives to collaborate innovators worldwide with leading companies in emerging markets to conduct cutting-edge pilot projects, build commercial relationships, de-risk investment, and scale solutions that tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
During the conference, Pooja Shukla, GBCI India, presented a comprehensive case study where they conducted air quality measurements in multiple residential buildings, focusing on parameters such as PM10, PM2.5, CO, CO2, NO2, TVOC. Through their analysis, they identified key factors impacting indoor air quality and recommended necessary changes to improve it. One crucial takeaway from their study is the importance of regularly monitoring critical air quality parameters. By implementing a system that notifies us when air quality deteriorates, we can promptly take appropriate actions. Given that we spend the majority of our time indoors, neglecting proper ventilation can have detrimental effects on our health and well-being. Therefore, prioritizing indoor air quality and ensuring adequate ventilation becomes essential for maintaining a healthy living environment.
Humidity, the amount of moisture present in the air, poses significant challenges in building environments. Mr Azmi Aboulhoda, EMergy Consultancy, UAE started with a few myths and facts about humidity inside building spaces which were eye opening. Relative humidity (RH) (expressed as a percent) also measures water vapor, but RELATIVE to the temperature of the air so its better to calculate the dew point. Maintaining optimal humidity levels is crucial for the comfort, health, and functionality of occupants. Buildings that experience excessive humidity can face various issues such as mold growth, musty odors, condensation on surfaces, and increased discomfort. On the other hand, low humidity can lead to dry skin, respiratory irritation, static electricity, and even damage to wooden furniture or musical instruments. Achieving the right balance of humidity in buildings requires careful consideration and appropriate control measures. Effective ventilation, proper insulation, and the use of humidifiers or dehumidifiers when necessary can help mitigate humidity-related challenges. By understanding the impact of humidity on indoor environments and implementing suitable strategies, building owners and occupants can create comfortable and healthy spaces.
Humidity poses challenges in buildings. Mr Azmi Aboulhoda highlighted myths and facts about building humidity. Relative humidity (RH) measures water vapor relative to air temperature, making dew point calculations better. Optimal humidity levels are crucial for comfort, health, and functionality. Excessive humidity leads to mold, odors, condensation, and discomfort. Low humidity causes dry skin, respiratory issues, static electricity, and furniture damage. Balancing humidity requires ventilation, insulation, and use of humidifiers/dehumidifiers. Understanding humidity's impact helps create comfortable, healthy spaces.
We need our hospital system to work 24x7 for around the year. Resilient hospital design has emerged as a crucial concept in modern healthcare infrastructure planning, aiming to ensure that hospitals can effectively withstand and respond to various disruptive events. From natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods to public health emergencies such as pandemics, resilient hospital design focuses on creating facilities that can continue to function and provide essential services even in challenging circumstances.
It includes structural integrity, redundancy in critical systems like power and water supply, adaptability by creating flexible spaces and building zones. By prioritizing resilience, healthcare systems can deliver uninterrupted care, protect patients and staff, and contribute to community resilience in challenging circumstances.
The air change rate per hour (ACH) refers to the number of times the entire volume of air within a space is replaced with fresh air per hour. In healthcare settings, where the risk of airborne infections and the spread of contaminants is a constant concern, achieving an appropriate air change rate is essential. A higher air change rate helps in diluting and removing airborne pathogens, allergens, and pollutants, reducing the risk of transmission and maintaining good indoor air quality. Factors such as the size of the space, the type of healthcare facility, the nature of activities performed, and infection control guidelines influence the recommended air change rate.
Dr Arup highlighted the importance of measuring ACH and how building standards can push to improve ACH.
Ashish Rakheja is conference chair for ASHRAE Developing Economics Conference 2023. I was looking forward to this session from the day I registered for the conference. The way he moderated panel discussion was phenomenal, avoiding any digression from the topic and keeping the curiosity alive.
Ashish presented a compelling case study showcasing how advanced design tools can significantly reduce operational carbon emissions. In their project, they employed multiple simulations to analyze airflow patterns both around and within the building. They also conducted day-light simulations to optimize natural lighting within the hospital design. Through the strategic use of technologies such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), 1D calculations, and energy simulations during the building's design phase, they achieved a remarkable reduction in operational carbon emissions without compromising thermal comfort. Mr. Ashish's session underscored the importance of leveraging available technology to achieve sustainable outcomes in healthcare facility design. By incorporating these tools early on, designers can make informed decisions that not only minimize environmental impact but also enhance the well-being and comfort of occupants.
Early intervention at the design stage of HVAC systems is crucial for achieving carbon reduction, cost optimization, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality (IAQ). By addressing these factors during the design phase, designers have a greater ability to influence the cost of carbon reduction compared to later stages such as preconstruction, construction, and handover.
By proactively considering energy efficiency, sustainability objectives, and cost factors during the initial design process, designers can make informed decisions that prioritize these elements. This allows for the integration of cost-effective strategies, such as selecting energy-efficient equipment and optimizing system layouts, which can significantly impact the overall carbon reduction potential.
Moreover, early intervention at the design stage enables designers to optimize thermal comfort and IAQ. By carefully analyzing factors such as building size, occupancy patterns, and usage profiles, designers can tailor HVAC systems to meet specific requirements. This includes integrating innovative technologies that enhance thermal comfort and implementing effective air filtration and ventilation strategies to improve IAQ.
Collaboration among architects, engineers, and sustainability experts is vital to ensure the successful design and implementation of HVAC systems that meet these objectives. By working together from the outset, professionals can take a holistic approach and leverage their expertise to make informed decisions that result in cost-effective carbon reduction, optimal thermal comfort, and improved IAQ.
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