Energy Efficiency

AHRI setting global leadership to amend HVAC standards

Nabil Shahin

AHRI, a non-profit organization, is striving to revive energy efficiency standards and address the challenges of the HVAC industry. Nabil Shahin, Managing Director, AHRI MENA, focuses on equipment efficiency while collaborating with regional governments. They aim to shape a sustainable future for the HVAC industry worldwide.

AHRI is a non-profit organization that represents the majority of HVAC manufacturers in the United States and around the world. It is a North American association with global interests and services that serves its membership of 300+ HVACR and water heating equipment manufacturers through operations in the United States, Canada, China, Dubai, India, and Mexico. With over 330 international members and 1000 licensees, AHRI generates and produces standards, guidelines, and approximately 40+ certification programs. They handle various aspects of HVAC, including commercial refrigeration and heating.

AHRI also has a sister organization, NATE (North American Technician Excellence). It is a technician training and certification program in the US, the Middle East, and India. AHRI collaborates with regional regulatory agencies, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, and the GCC’s national regulator, GSO. Extensive research in energy efficiency, cutting-edge technologies, and refrigerants is conducted. AHRI cooperates with the United Nations and has a recent program called refrigerant driver’s licenses to assist developing countries in transitioning to more eco-friendly refrigerants. It also serves as the arm of the US Federal Regulations and the Department of Energy in enforcing HVAC regulations.

Challenges in the HVAC Industry

The HVAC business faces several difficulties, including energy efficiency, decarbonization, supply chain disruptions, workforce training, and indoor air quality issues. These elements influence how much energy is consumed. Global HVAC demand is increasing due to rising temperatures, ageing populations, increased lifespan due to improved medical care, urbanization, digitization, and the growth of the middle class. Achieving a healthier and more sustainable future hinges on how these challenges are tackled. The increasing growth of Asia and India has increased demand for HVAC systems. 

According to the International Energy Agency Three times as many air conditioning units installed today will be deployed in the Middle East by 2050. India has a air-condition household penetration of less than 10%, however, it is anticipated that by 2050, the penetration rate will have doubled or tripled due to India’s growing middle class and economic growth.

Conventionally, air conditioning is utilized for cooling as well as heating. This depends the various climate zones throughout the world. ASHRAE 169 divides the world into 19 climate zones based on temperature. For instance, the Middle East experiences some of the highest temperatures on record, categorized as zero A and zero B. Zero B conditions is extremely hot and dry, dry refers to little precipitation hence more sunshine. Due to this airconfditins consume a lot of power and produce a lot of carbon dioxide due to that. For example, the majority of the electricity consumed in a typical Middle Eastern or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) villa comes from the residential building; on average, 67 per cent of it. The bulk of electric consumption in Middle Eastern countries is residential. Most global power consumption occurs in residential settings, with the remaining portion distributed among governmental, commercial, and industrial sectors. Ensuring that our buildings are efficient and selling energy-saving items in the market are crucial.

AHRI focuses on equipment efficiency. The building envelope needs to be taken care of to guarantee proper installation. Increasing the efficiency of the structure has the potential to enhance energy consumption; however, it remains a complex task. The behavioral component is relatively important. A plethora of technology is available in several industries, such as compressors, variable-speed motors, and inverters. Data collection, artificial intelligence, smart thermostats, and other related areas have ample new prospects. Manufacturers provide the technology, but we need the power to raise the requirements for minimal energy efficiency. Establishing minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) has been a significant governmental focus to ensure that only high-quality products are permitted to enter the market. With all these efforts, customers and end users need to be educated. Reducing energy use requires appropriate standards to test for energy efficiency and enforcement thorough surveillance  and monitoring or certification programs.

Paris Agreement and Global Cooling Pledge

The Paris Agreement of 2015 addressed global warming, aiming to control global warming by two degrees Celsius or preferably by 1.5 degrees. We can already observe that the average earth temperature which is around 15 degrees Celsius has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since the industrial age. If we continue our current path, global warming will grow to much more than two degrees Celsius by 2050. 

COP 28 Dubai addressed global cooling. Conventional cooling produces up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of total electricity use worldwide. The event birthed an agreement known as the Global Cooling Pledge. It was signed by 63 countries and supported by a few big manufacturers such as Carrier and Daikin. The gist of the deal was to improve the energy efficiency criteria by 50% by 2030 compared to 2022 levels. 

AHRI is working with governments to develop new regulations and utilizing AHRI’s free to use standards. We have formed a standard subcommittee outside North America comprising industry members, consulting firms, academia, and government officials to develop regional-specific standards in the Middle east and beyond. Multiple committees have been formed to oversee unitary chillers, VRF, and air handling units. The first regional standard is nearing completion and is expected to be implemented and adopted by regional governments shortly.

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