Energy-efficient HVAC a major investment focus

HVAC system changes prompted by need to cut energy costs

Energy-efficienct HVAC a key investment focus globally.
Energy-efficienct HVAC a key investment focus globally.

Although the primary purpose of HVAC systems in commercial buildings is occupant productivity, a new report from Pike Research on the US market finds that the aim of most changes to HVAC systems in the next five years will be to decrease energy cost.

According to the study, due to rising energy prices and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with building operations, many building owners have begun to manage energy cost as an asset, rather than a fixed cost.

The tools for improving efficiency of HVAC systems are multiplying, including building energy management systems (BEMS), on-site ice-based thermal energy storage systems, underfloor air distribution and chilled beams, to name a few.

“The HVAC industry changes slowly,” said industry analyst Levin Nock. “Most commercial space is in small and medium-sized buildings and is heated and cooled by packaged units sold as commodities. But with HVAC accounting for almost one third of the energy cost in commercial buildings, the savings potential is quite significant.

“An increasing number of industry players, including both established vendors as well as start-ups, are focused on addressing this market opportunity using a variety of innovative technologies,” said Nock.

A few of Pike Research’s forecasts for the energy-efficient HVAC market in the US include:

• The market for geothermal heat pumps in commercial buildings, including equipment and installation costs, will total $13 billion between 2010 and 2015.

• Revenue from BEMS will increase from $0.9 billion in 2010 to more than $1.3 billion by 2015.

• Investment in underfloor air distribution will total $1.2 billion during the period from 2010 to 2015.

• Ice-based thermal energy storage systems revenue will expand from $17 million in 2010 to more than $190 million in 2015.

• Revenue for western climate challenge-certified rooftop units will reach $26 million by 2015 under a baseline scenario, with the upside opportunity of $40 million by 2015 under a more aggressive forecast scenario.

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