view looking up at circular staircase

The Role We Play in Freezing the Trajectory of Emissions

To make headway in the fight against climate change, heating, cooling and ventilation systems have to be part of the solution.

We often talk about transportation, electricity generation, and agriculture as the prime culprits of carbon emissions, while heating and cooling is overlooked by these seemingly more obvious sectors. But the bottom line for a sustainable world is simple. We will not make great strides in developing the sustainable societies we dream of without seriously considering the substantial emissions from technologies associated with heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC), and thus identifying the impact of decarbonizing the industry.

According to a 2018 IEA report, around 20% of the electricity used in buildings around the world comes from activities related to heating and cooling spaces, and this number is set to more than triple by 2050.

IEA Executive Director, Faith Birol, put a finer point on the call for leadership and action, “Growing demand for air conditioners is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate. Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and reduce costs at the same time.”

It’s this very focus on energy efficient systems, within all types of comfort and industrial cooling, heating and ventilation applications generally, which is fundamental to our business.

Raising public consciousness on the opportunity

When people think of emission sources, the image of a car’s exhaust pipe often comes to mind. It’s generally understood that by improving a vehicle’s overall efficiency, or converting to electric, it’s a big step toward decarbonizing the transportation sector.

Buildings have emissions too – and rather than exhaust pipes, there are multiple sources of emissions in every building – including the energy required to electrify the building systems and the fossil fuels used for heating. As a company, and an industry, we need to shift public perception to see those opportunities to reduce emissions by improving efficiency of buildings, just like with vehicles.

As a company, and an industry, we need to shift public perception to see opportunities to reduce emissions by improving efficiency of buildings, just like with vehicles.

Scott Tew

Executive Director, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Trane Technologies

Scott Tew

Decarbonization solutions exist today

Recently, for example, our Trane Commercial HVAC business in EMEA launched an enhanced high-performance air-to-water heat pump that delivers increased capacity with minimal energy consumption. Despite what some have come to believe about heat pumps working only in limited climate zones, the technology can work in all seasons, with a range between -15°C and 45°C (5°F-113°F) - ideal for properties with dynamic temperature requirements.

While it eliminates the need for separate boiler and chiller systems and thus significantly reduces carbon emissions, the Sintesis Balance is also naturally more efficient than a typical furnace as heat is easier to transfer, than make from scratch. When connected to a green energy grid, it has potential to be a zero-emissions solution for heating and cooling entire buildings. Layer in building intelligence and connected controls stacked together with high-performing equipment and you have a major opportunity to reduce a building’s carbon footprint.

Leading the way in an overlooked industry

By introducing sustainable innovation and a new realm of building efficiency to the world, we are doing our part to help align with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the ambition of the Paris Accord in a race to achieve net-zero global climate emissions by 2050.

It’s also why we are pushing our boundaries, and that of the industry, by setting ambitious, but necessary targets to reduce our customers’ emissions by a gigaton – one billion metric tonnes - and achieve carbon neutrality in our own operations by 2030. In addition, we’re taking a leading role in the transition to lower global warming potential (GWP) next generation refrigerants, identified as one of the most impactful areas for decarbonizing the built environment according to Project Drawdown .

We believe that as part of an industry that can have a massive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we also shoulder the responsibility and opportunity to turn the tide on climate change, for good.