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The big innovations that are giving air conditioning a sustainable future

The big innovations that are giving air conditioning a sustainable future

4 months ago by Rob Bryan

Future Air Conditioning

​Recent innovations in air conditioning have transformed an industry that was once heavy on energy consumption into one that is at the forefront of sustainable building solutions.

Some of the latest air conditioning innovations are capable of halving the cost of heating a building as well as providing low carbon cooling, not to mention superb air quality – something that will be particularly important in a post pandemic world.

Heat recovery air conditioning systems

Well designed heat recovery systems can reduce building heating costs by 40 to 50 per cent, according to the latest data from Toshiba. They work by harvesting waste energy and using it to warm incoming fresh air to reduce the need for heating, thereby saving energy and cutting carbon emissions.

Heat recovery isn’t new. It’s been around since the 1990s. However, the technology has really leapt forward since those early days and, without getting too technical, features such as multiple inverter-controlled compressors, changes to the design of heat exchange coils and different refrigerants have all helped to reduce the impact of mechanical heating and cooling on the environment. As a result, an estimated 65 per cent of VRF systems sold in the UK today offer some form of heat recovery.

Underfloor air conditioning

Underfloor HVAC systems can also help to boost the sustainability of a building by reducing costs and cutting emissions. An underfloor air conditioning system was recently installed as part of a warehouse redevelopment in Clerkenwell, London, specifically to cut energy consumption and environmental impact. In this case, the underfloor solution also allowed the ceilings, which were a feature of the building, to be preserved without the need for suspended ceilings.In other words, there was an aesthetic benefit too.

An interesting feature of this particular system is that the air conditioning units sit beneath a raised access floor and can easily be moved without any major or costly reconfiguration of the system.In a world where flexibility is important in the workplace, this means the HVAC system can be quickly adapted to new office layouts and room uses, again offering greater sustainability and futureproofing.

As HVAC systems evolve and the demand for greater efficiency and control grows, we expect to see air conditioning manufacturers continue to announce exciting new technology that will appeal to building designers who are looking for efficiency and sustainability without compromising on performance.