Timberline Blog

6 Ways the HVAC Industry Is Striving To Protect the Environment

April 17, 2024 by Timberline

Warmer summers and an increase in extreme weather events are just two examples of how climate change is affecting daily life in the U.S. and around the world. Increasingly, it’s clear that everyone from consumers to business owners must get involved in protecting the environment.

As the rate of climate change accelerates, companies in every sector are taking action to reduce their impact on the planet. The HVAC industry faces a unique challenge, working to be more sustainable even while users need more from their systems to maintain comfortable indoor environments.

technician check the air conditioning system

The good news is that advancements in many areas are enabling manufacturers, architects, HVAC companies and other stakeholders to develop heating and cooling solutions that are more earth-friendly than ever before. Well-designed HVAC systems are even an essential part of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

This article explains the steps the HVAC industry is taking toward greater sustainability.

HVAC Systems: Crucial to Health, Comfort and More

Before diving into HVAC systems and sustainability, it’s important to remember why we have these systems in the first place. Heating and cooling solutions in commercial and industrial settings provide several benefits, including the following:

  • Improved indoor air quality. HVAC systems play an essential role in maintaining good indoor air quality. They filter out dust, allergens and other pollutants that can irritate the throat and lungs or even trigger or worsen respiratory problems like asthma.
  • Enhanced occupant and visitor comfort. A well-maintained HVAC system ensures a comfortable indoor temperature and humidity level. Occupants and their visitors appreciate a pleasant working environment and may speak positively (or at least not negatively) about the building conditions.
  • Increased worker productivity. Most people have experienced a work environment that is either too warm or too cold. Both scenarios make it hard to focus on the task at hand. Conversely, studies have shown that comfortable temperatures can eliminate distractions and significantly boost employee productivity.
  • Building code compliance. In many locations, building codes mandate minimum standards for indoor temperature and ventilation. A properly designed HVAC system ensures a building meets these requirements and, consequently, doesn’t expose the building owner to fines or other penalties.

In short, HVAC systems are vital to the operation of commercial and industrial buildings and the health and well-being of the people in them.

Making HVAC Solutions More Sustainable

Moving a ubiquitous industry like HVAC toward greater sustainability requires a holistic approach. Some of the many ways the industry’s environmental initiatives are gaining traction and making progress include the following:

Increased energy efficiency
One of the HVAC industry’s primary objectives has been and remains improving energy efficiency. Manufacturers are continually developing and refining technologies to ensure that heating and cooling systems consume less energy while still achieving optimal performance. This includes using energy-efficient motors, variable-speed compressors and other high-efficiency equipment.

“Green” refrigerants
Refrigerants are crucial to HVAC systems, but many traditional varieties can contribute to global warming. As a result, the industry is transitioning toward green (environmentally friendly) refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP). These substances include hydrofluoroolefins (unsaturated organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen and fluorine) and natural refrigerants like ammonia and carbon dioxide.

Smart HVAC systems
Integrating smart technologies into HVAC systems allows for better control and optimization of energy usage. Smart thermostats, building automation systems and predictive maintenance applications help reduce energy waste by ensuring that heating and cooling systems operate only when needed and at optimal efficiency.

Renewable energy integration
The HVAC industry is a leader in incorporating renewable energy sources into solutions, such as heating and cooling systems. Solar and geothermal energy are just two examples of this approach. Heat pumps, for instance, can utilize geothermal energy from the ground or solar energy to provide heating and cooling more sustainably.

Building design and retrofitting
Architects, engineers and developers have learned a great deal in recent years about how building design plays a crucial role in HVAC efficiency. They now focus on designing buildings with better insulation, natural ventilation and passive heating and cooling strategies to reduce the reliance on mechanical HVAC systems. Additionally, retrofitting existing buildings with energy-efficient HVAC equipment and insulation helps improve overall sustainability.

Product lifecycle awareness
Industry stakeholders are increasingly considering the environmental impacts of HVAC systems throughout their life cycles, from manufacturing and installation to operation and disposal. Actions to minimize the impacts include reducing material waste, designing for ease of recycling and implementing sustainable practices in supply chains.

By addressing these issues, the HVAC industry is making steady and significant progress in reducing its impact on the environment.

Building Owners and Commercial HVAC Companies: Collaborating for a Healthier Planet

Building owners and commercial/industrial HVAC companies can work together in many ways to advance and support sustainability. For example, owners can leverage the skills of HVAC providers to conduct energy audits. These assessments can identify areas for improvement and upgrades.

Owners can also arrange for regular system inspections and maintenance. Keeping an HVAC system operating at peak efficiency saves energy and can lower costs in the long run. Problems are much easier and cheaper to remedy when they’re caught early.

Another area where owners and HVAC companies can collaborate is the education and training of building occupants. Building owners or property managers can use information and insights from their HVAC service providers to teach people about energy-saving practices and encourage behavioral changes that reduce resource needs.

Final Thoughts

A simple step you can take today to reduce your HVAC system’s environmental impact is to contact us to address any repair or service needs. Whether it’s a quick fix or a significant system improvement or upgrade, the sooner you take action, the sooner everyone affected reaps the benefits.

It’s imperative to achieve greater sustainability in the HVAC industry generally and in the operation of your commercial or industrial building specifically. Fortunately, tremendous strides have been (and continue to be) made.

At Timberline Mechanical, we’re doing everything we can to support our commercial and industrial customers and their sustainability initiatives. If you have questions about our services—from HVAC service, repairs and preventive maintenance to plumbing—we’re happy to answer them. Reach out anytime.

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