One of the country’s largest suppliers of heating and cooling equipment is calling for a radical change to the way we heat and cool our commercial and residential buildings.
The UK Living Environmental Systems Division (LES) of Mitsubishi Electric has produced a 10-point action plan which will contribute to the reduction of over three million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by 2016. Much of the Company’s plans centre around the utilisation of untapped heat energy that exists in the air all around us, and the wider use of cool outside air to reduce the need for air conditioning.
At the House of Commons today (6 June 2007), Commercial Director Donald Daw met with Politicians to launch the Company’s ‘Green Gateway Initiative’. The plan includes technological developments and new thinking combined with simple behavioural changes such as better maintenance regimes or not using the thermostat as an on/off button. All of the initiatives are focused on creating a significant impact on CO2 reduction in the UK’s buildings by reducing energy consumption and the energy bills of both consumers and businesses.
“One of the easiest ways of achieving a significant reduction in CO2 emissions would be through the greater use of heat pump technology which extracts free energy from the surrounding air,” explained Donald Daw. “The energy in the air that surrounds us is a key sustainable resource that doesn’t currently factor into people’s thinking.
“We need to focus on promoting heat pumps as they are a big solution to the global warming issues we all face today. This technology is already well known in the air conditioning market and is used for heating in countries such as France and Sweden.”
With a conventional gas boiler, one kilowatt of energy consumed by the boiler delivers less than one kilowatt of heat to a building. With a typical heat pump, one kilowatt of energy delivers a heat output in excess of 3 kilowatts – that’s a 300 per cent increase in energy efficiency – and that is set to grow as the technology develops.
As the UK’s gas reserves decline, the economic and political future of importing gas from around the globe comes into sharp focus and our reliance upon fossil fuels continues to be questioned.
“The optimisation of grid electricity is key to the future of any sustainable energy policy whether the primary source is from fossil fuel, nuclear or renewables such as wind or tide,” asserted Daw. “If we can make better use of this electricity, then we reduce CO2 emissions and can be less dependent on imported energy.
“By 2016, we estimate that the country could save over three million tonnes of CO2 per year through the adoption of new ‘air source’ technologies and improved practices – that’s the equivalent of taking more than 830,000 cars off the UK’s roads.”
In our homes, over 80 percent of energy use goes on space and water heating and the company encourages the installation of new heat pump boilers, which produce over 30 per cent less CO2 than gas boilers. In particular it is keen to focus on the new build residential sector – where all new homes will have to be zero-carbon by 2016.
In the commercial sector, the company’s most significant initiative calls for more promotion of the reduction in energy use that businesses can get from replacing older heating and cooling equipment.
“We estimate that businesses will be saving nearly 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year by 2016 if they are encouraged to quickly phase out old cooling equipment and introduce modern technology,” explained Daw. “That’s not only good for the environment, but it will also make a big impact on the energy bills of individual companies.
“The ‘yoyo’ practices of using gas boilers for heating and air conditioning for cooling, are no longer sustainable and when it comes to cooling, ‘Free Cooling & Heat Recovery’ strategies are of significant importance,” he added.
The use of fresh air and natural ventilation when combined with an air conditioning system reduces commercial energy consumption significantly. In terms of heating, reuse of the warm air being expelled from a building to provide energy back into the building is far better than warming-up the outside.
Under the Green Gateway Initiative, Mitsubishi Electric LES has set targets to reduce CO2 emissions through actively using its market footprint to challenge engrained thinking and to develop new approaches to support customers in achieving their CO2 reduction goals by helping them make the right purchasing decisions.
The company has already been quick to back its words with action and has stunned the air conditioning industry by questioning whether a rapid growth in residential air conditioning in the UK is either necessary or sustainable.
“If the Government is to be supported in meeting its targets for CO2 reduction then we have to radically change the ways in which we heat and cool our homes, schools, factories, shops and offices,” explained Daw. “As a nation, we have to accelerate change in ‘heating’ and address ‘cooling’ in a responsible manner. Managing the internal temperatures of the environments in which we live, work and learn has to keep pace with the new technologies that are available and the incremental savings in CO2 that are eminently achievable.”
Mitsubishi Electric LES’ Green Gateway Initiative is primed for the low carbon generation – asserting that every company’s responsibility is to its stakeholders. Stakeholders include the individuals that purchase goods and services from companies and the fellow citizens that are both directly and indirectly affected by those purchasing choices.
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