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As part of the UK Government’s stated commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, gas boilers, along with other fossil-fuel burning boilers, are to be banned in newbuild homes from 2025 under the Future Homes Standard. Although the ban has received a widespread welcome in principle, there has been criticism. Environmental groups have criticized the ban for not going far enough in tacking the escalating climate crisis, and the construction and home-building industries have criticized it for the challenges it brings in achieving a viable home-heating alternative in such a short space of time. Placing significant demand Despite the criticism, the ban doesn’t go far enough; applying to newbuild homes only, with, as yet, no plans to phase out gas heating in existing homes. New heating technology has to be ready to roll out before 2025, whether it’s to 160,000 homes per year (the annual approximate figure of new homes built) or the UK’s entire housing stock of 29 million. Despite the criticism, the ban doesn’t go far enough; applying to newbuild homes only The Home Builders Federation, in reaction to the Future Homes Standard, has said, “It’s going to be a challenge and a huge area of work.” And it is widely acknowledged there is significant demand placed on the building and HVAC industries to produce a long-term, viable solution. Challenges include the creation of new, cost-effective designs of energy infrastructures, and implementation in time for the short deadline of less than four years away. Gas boiler heating systems From energy design engineers to developers, suppliers, and energy companies, everyone in the supply chain is affected in delivering a solution that UK homeowners can afford and that developers can supply. The communications challenge also cannot be underestimated, to bring along the public to the reality that homes cannot, ultimately, continue to be heated by the gas boilers they are so familiar with. The most likely low-carbon alternative to gas boiler heating systems is generally acknowledged to be heat pumps and heat networks, powered by renewables. It has been estimated by the Committee on Climate Change that by 2030 there will be 2.5 million heat pumps in new homes. Heat pumps offer comparable heating power to gas boilers and are powered by low-carbon electricity. Heat pumps have great potential for saving carbon; approximately 25-85 tCO2 per home over an average lifetime, reducing carbon emissions by 90%. Existing gas system But hydrogen is expensive to produce and although the existing gas system could be readily used for supply But for heat pumps to provide the level of warmth, particular in winter, and summer, weather in the UK, their effectiveness relies on excellent insulation, including triple glazing and adaptations to walls, floors, and ceilings. And while there has been a drive to get our draughty homes better insulated in the UK in recent years, with various grants and funding, this will be particularly crucial for newbuilds going forward. Hydrogen boilers could be an alternative to gas boilers. Hydrogen produces no emissions when burnt, only water and heat. But hydrogen is expensive to produce and although the existing gas system could be readily used for supply, and by consumers already familiar with a boiler system, it is not yet seen as a full solution to the replacement of gas. Technically qualified workers Trials are due to be carried out in the north-east with hydrogen-ready boilers. But the impending deadline and challenge for production and systems to be ready and tested, for mass implementation is unrealistic. Even before the Future Homes Standard was announced, there was an acknowledged shortage of skills. Engineering UK, in a recent survey, found that an additional 1.8 million engineers and technically qualified workers would be needed by 2025 in order to meet demand. But the impending deadline and challenge for production and systems to be ready and tested Nearly a third of HVAC firms have declared a skills shortage, with many feeling there is a crisis in the sector of sufficient qualified workers who can satisfy the new regulations. Now the demand is set to rise with the ban, as well as Brexit. A large proportion of qualified HVAC workers are sourced from the EU, further compounding the crisis of the skills shortage already faced. Zero-Carbon technologies From imagining life without a gas boiler to a young person seeing their future career in engineering and renewable energy, effective communications and campaigns could go a long way. Targeted lifestyle campaigns, with positive, compelling case studies of homes of the future being powered by green, zero-carbon technologies could help to drive the momentum for innovation from a domestic base. Talent strategies could also combat the reality of an ageing and diminishing workforce in HVAC and other sectors. It’s vital now, more than ever, that young people see a career in renewable and eco-living technology as, not only rewarding but futuristic, global, and sophisticated. Any alternative to gas heating has to be affordable for UK households, and therefore for housing developers to adopt. Fuel poverty is a real risk. Energy-Saving measures The right help needs to be in place to support the development and take-up of the alternative According to the Committee on Climate Change, it costs £4,800 to install low-carbon heating in a new home, but £26,300 in an existing house while there are various funding initiatives for households adopting energy-saving measures, the right help needs to be in place to support the development and take-up of the alternative. Not just for newbuild homeowners, but beyond 2025 when existing households are called upon to switch. The Home Builders Federation have said of the Future Homes Standard, “Ambitious deadlines pose enormous challenges for all parties involved including developers, suppliers, energy companies in terms of skills, design, energy infrastructure and the supply chain.” Low-Carbon heating technology But there is also a stated dedication to achieving what can be realistically achieved, proving that there is a genuine commitment to ensuring our brighter, cleaner future and planet with low-carbon heating technology. The ultimate challenge now will be in Government, agencies, and industry working together, in a dedicated way, to be realistic about, and tackle the challenges across the board so the right solution for our home-heating future can be achieved, in time, and ready for a rollout for the new homes we build from 2025.
The impact of COVID-19 has hit all areas of industry in a variety of different ways; with mass redundancies, restructures and the need for diversification now dominating the headlines. It has also made a lot of people question their own careers and what is important to them; in fact, Google searches for the term ‘career change’ are up more than 500% on this time last year. With more than half of the heating and plumbing industry’s workforce due to retire in the next decade, and so many people considering a career change (either through choice or necessity), is there a window of opportunity for the heating engineering and plumbing industry to attract men and women to the industry? Why is there a need for recruitment in the industry? In 2017, the Gas Safe Register’s ‘Decade in Review’ found that the average age of heating installers was 55, with over half of respondents being this age or older. The report also found that over 50 per cent of engineers are concerned about keeping up with advancing and unfamiliar technology. Over the next decade, this aging With more than half of the heating and plumbing industry’s workforce due to retire in the next decade, and so many people considering a career changeworkforce will begin to reduce their working hours or retire completely. With fewer young people deciding to train as a heating installer, the industry will quickly lose valuable experience as the workforce diminishes. In addition, a survey by the Centre for Ageing Better found that, of 500 employers, only 20% have considered how they will tackle an aging workforce, and 24% have no strategies in place. How can heating installers promote their career path? As of October 2020, the UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level (4.5%) in over three years. According to the ONS, an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies stood at 227,000. Of those now facing unemployment, about 300,000 are aged 16-24. With so many young people out of work, and plenty of adults looking to make the move from an office-based role to one that’s ‘more rewarding’, a career in the trade could be an attractive option. But, how can heating installers market themselves as a prosperous career path to these people? Be positive on social media Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have provided installers with a way to market themselves to customers, share their successes, and connect with others in the industry. This is all great, but often heating installers use social media to vent their frustrations, complain about long hours and feeling tired, or even complaining about customer behaviour. While this is absolutely understandable (we all need to let off steam from time to time), this kind of content should be shared on private accounts only seen by family and friends. It may be worth setting up a second account which can be seen by the public and only share positive content there. This will show followers (who are potential recruits and customers) the more positive aspects of the career. Talk about benefits and progression opportunities When attracting young people to any profession, you need to emphasize the opportunities it offers in terms of progression, potential earnings, and other benefits such as being self-employed and therefore being able to manage your own hours and holidays. Offer an apprenticeship scheme By offering a paid apprenticeship scheme you can attract both young people and older career changers who have financial responsibilities to meet. You know better than any that it takes time to train as a heating installer, as well as a lot of on the job experience, and a paid apprenticeship could make the career a viable option for people with financial commitments. Make it clear to new recruits that they will be supported and mentored throughout their training. Will the Green Homes Grants scheme help the heating industry? Finally, it is important to address the government’s Green Homes Grants scheme which began accepting applications in September and will be open until 31st March 2021. The scheme offers £5,000 vouchers to homeowners in England to cover two-thirds of the cost of energy-saving improvements such as improving insulation and installing renewable heating systems like heat pumps, biomass boilers, and solar thermal panels. In addition to encouraging homeowners to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the government’s target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the scheme Google searches for the term ‘career change’ are up more than 500% on this time last yearis also intended to boost employment. The increased interest and investment in the renewable energy sector could indeed open up more opportunities for the unemployed, but as the scheme is only open until March 2021, this does not seem to be a particularly long-term approach. Homeowners cannot use the grant to install a more efficient gas or oil boiler, so it is unlikely to help the heating industry to attract recruits who will become traditional boiler installers, but it may kickstart the renewable heating industry and encourage existing heating professionals to diversify their skillset. Of course, there is always the possibility that increased awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions and make our homes more efficient will have a knock-on effect for the boiler installation industry, but only time will tell. Use digital advertising When people are looking for a job, or even when they are just passing the time at home during lockdown, they will usually be online. When you have a job opening or an apprenticeship on offer, be sure to advertize on digital platforms including job posting websites, LinkedIn, search engine and social media advertising. Be open to diversity If the industry is only open to attracting men of a certain age from a certain background, the number of potential recruits reduces rapidly. The heating industry is one of the least diverse, particularly in terms of gender as only 0.4 per cent of Gas Safe registered engineers are female. Heating installers and employers not only need to be willing to hire a more diverse workforce, but they also need to be proactive in their efforts to attract candidates to ensure everyone feels welcome and supported in the industry.
Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial & Industrial outlines how cities are using heat networks to achieve UK carbon emission targets. Heat networks, or district heating, are becoming an ever-greater part of our industry’s involvement in larger scale schemes. The ability to help the decarbonization of heat both now and in the future has made them an attractive solution to the new-build sector, as well as those undergoing deep renovation works. Net zero 2050 The UK’s net zero 2050 target may seem like a long way off. But steps need to be made now in order to reach this, something that our leading cities have recognized. Many have set their own carbon targets to ensure they stay on track. This is why heat networks’ ability to provide efficient heat and hot water to multiple buildings (and as the name suggests, whole districts) is a particular reason why many cities up and down the country are turning to them as a solution. What are heat networks? Generally, heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator (Energy Centre) that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings. These are usually in different buildings, but sometimes within a single large building like an apartment block or a university campus.District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems of this sort, where there will be many buildings connected over a larger geographic area. In these systems, although the heat is provided ‘off-dwelling’, it is also common to have more than one energy centre. The principle is that energy for heating (and sometimes cooling) is supplied through the system of pipes, with each individual user being metered for the energy they use. Minimize pipe lengths Heat networks offer a number of advantages but are best suited to areas where there is high heat density, that is to say where there are multiple ‘households’ close together in order to minimize the length of pipes within the network. One of the key advantages for heat networks is their adaptability to use any form of heat generation. A key advantage from an environmental perspective is that they make use of waste heat, from sources such as electricity generation, waste incineration and industry. Heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings The scale of the combined heat requirements of all these dwellings also helps the inclusion of renewable energy sources, which may be more difficult and costly to achieve at the individual dwelling level. Overall, their flexibility to use whatever heat source is available, makes them easier to decarbonize in the future.Other key benefits for Local Authorities and Housing Associations have been the elimination of individual gas appliances within dwellings. This has significant cost savings reductions for Local Authorities and Housing Associations where gas landlord checks are eliminated, along with the issues associated with access. City developments Today City Councils and developers are opting for heat networks to provide the heating and hot water for new redevelopment projects. The largest of these is the ambitious Leeds Heat Network, which once completed is set to be one of the UK’s largest new heat networks, connecting 1,983 council homes and numerous businesses in Leeds. The first scheme under the City Region’s District Heating program, the green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area as well as energy bills for the residents living there.The green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area Even more innovative is how the network will connect to the Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility, which burns black bin bag waste to generate heat. In theory this would make the network fully sustainable. There will be back-up support from efficient Bosch Commercial & Industrial boilers, which will only be switched on when required, say the colder months where the need for heat is higher. Climate change targets An hour’s drive away from Leeds is the city with one of the most ambitious climate targets in the UK. Manchester intends to be carbon-neutral, climate resilient and zero waste by 2038 – 12 years before the overall UK net zero 2050 target needs to be hit.To help achieve its ambitions, work has been taking place on the Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN). Manchester hasshown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support The project will generate low-carbon power, heat and hot water for initially six council buildings and some residential properties with the possibility for the network to grow and connect further buildings across the city centre. Some see district heating as a solution solely for residential purposes, however Manchester have shown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support. The project itself has also given Manchester a new landmark, the impressive ‘Tower of Light’, which incorporates the five flues from the technology powering the network. This beacon not only represents the city’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint but also the innovative nature of district heating. Heating Battersea Power Station The final example lies in the Capital and may be one of the most famous developments in the UK at the moment. Battersea Power Station is not only one of the most iconic landmarks in London, but also the center piece of one of the most high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment projects ever undertaken in the Capital.Battersea Power Station is a high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment project The project involves the development of a district heating and cooling network, with a two-level underground energy centre – one of the largest of its kind. This complex heat, cooling and electricity network will continue to expand as the project continues to undergo its development stages. Looking ahead These are just a few examples of cities taking advantage of district heating and its many benefits, but near all cities in the UK have multiple heat network projects underway. Like with most innovations, smaller urban areas should then follow suit. The importance of district heating will no doubt become more and more prominent. Its ability to power whole areas and multiple buildings can already help efficiency levels, however its potential may be even greater in the future. One key energy transformation that is looking more and more likely is the decarbonization of the gas grid to hydrogen blends and ultimately 100% hydrogen. If these can be utilized in heat networks then the benefits will definitely put us and UK cities in a good place as we continue our journey towards net zero.
ASHRAE, a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment, announced a move to its new global headquarters, located at 180 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The Society began renovations in January 2020 on an existing 66,700 ft building, originally built in 1978, on 11 acres of land. Located 10 miles north of its previous headquarters building, ASHRAE joins other innovation and sustainability-focused organizations based in the popular Technology Parkway corridor. Net-Zero energy buildings “ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is a prime example of how we are helping to pioneer a movement that many expect will ultimately make net-zero energy the ‘new norm’ in sustainable design and construction,” said ASHRAE Building Ad Hoc Committee Chair Ginger Scoggins, P.E. “Although new construction of net-zero energy buildings make a lot of headlines, reuse of existing structures is a basic tenet of sustainability – the energy performance of existing buildings must be addressed to substantially impact the 40% of primary energy consumed by buildings.” “ASHRAE’s goal for this project was to renovate a three-story 1970’s era, cheap energy period building into a high-performing net-zero-ready facility in a cost-effective way that can be replicated in the built environment industry,” said Technical Advisory Subcommittee Chair Tim McGinn, P.E. The photovoltaic (PV) system design is currently in progress. The building will be on its way to fully net-zero energy by March 2021 upon the completion of the PV system installation. Digitally connected solutions The headquarters building incorporates several digitally connected solutions such as remote monitoring" Focusing on the Society’s 2020-21 theme, “The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0, the headquarters building incorporates several digitally connected solutions such as remote monitoring and analysis of building performance, with online dashboarding for transparency and advanced Building Automation System (BAS) integration with other systems, such as ASHRAE’s meeting reservations systems.” Other solutions include a digital twin and Building Information Model (BIM), innovative mechanical systems visible through open ceiling around radiant panel clouds and advanced conferencing systems designed to serve as a ‘digital lighthouse’ teaching resource. “ASHRAE’s first-of-its-kind headquarters building was designed as a living showcase of what's possible through technology integration to increase efficiency, protect people and property, and enhance the occupant experience,” said 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E. “In addition to supporting ASHRAE’s technical standards, innovative product integrations from our generous donors also provide a scalable and repeatable model for a net-zero energy building design.” Fresh air distribution system Examples of technical features include: Radiant ceiling panel system: This is used for heating and cooling & dedicated outdoor air system for outdoor air ventilation with enthalpy heat recovery. Overhead fresh air distribution system augmented with reversible ceiling fans in the open office areas and displacement distribution in the learning center. Six water source-heat pumps (WSHPs): There are four on basement level and two on upper level atrium that will be used to condition these spaces. Demand Control Ventilation (DCV): This will be used for high occupancy spaces in the meeting and learning center. Air distribution is constant volume in office areas and provided by fabric duct, reducing diffuser count and duct branches. Modeling Energy Use Intensity of 17 kBtu/sf/yr. On-site electric vehicle charging stations available for guests and staff. Roof-top and ground mounted photovoltaic solar energy system planned for installation March 2021. 18 new skylights and reconfigured window/wall ratio. Useful daylight illuminance (>300 lux) at the work plane Window Wall Ratio (WWR) 79.9% Existing – New WWR east/west 33.5% - north/south – 41.9%. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHRAE had already planned to provide 30% more outside air to the building than the required minimum ventilation rates from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality and will implement other applicable guidance that has been developed by the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force (ETF) for commercial office buildings. Building occupant health The building is located in a forest setting, close to hotels, restaurants and walking trails The building is located in a forest setting, close to hotels, restaurants and walking trails. A large deck overlooking a lake adjacent to meeting rooms can be fully enjoyed on sunny days. ASHRAE’s headquarters is 12 minutes and 6.2 miles from the Doraville MARTA station for easy access to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The Society’s approximately 110-person staff officially moved into the building at the beginning October. “This move represents another significant milestone for ASHRAE,” said ASHRAE Executive Vice President Jeff Littleton. “In addition to showing our commitment to building occupant health and comfort, our new headquarters building will enable us to provide industry-leading support and service to our global volunteers, while driving innovation that will push our goal of sustainability in action forward.” Successful building campaign A team of ASHRAE volunteers led a highly successful building campaign to garner support for the renovation project. Thirty-one corporate donors committed more than $9.7 million in monetary support and gifts of equipment and services. ASHRAE thanks the following industry partners for their high-level support of the new global headquarters renovation project: NIBE, Cisco, Arkema, Daikin, Price Industries, Belimo, ClimateMaster, ClimaCool, Bell & Gossett, Big Ass Fans, Victaulic, Uponor, Mitsubishi Electric Trane, NTT and PlaceOS. Donors to the building campaign will be listed online and recognized in a special new headquarters commemorative magazine to be published in January 2021. Sustainable built environment ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is an example of an effective built environment" Additionally, ASHRAE members have given over $500,000 to date. In total, ASHRAE has received over $10.2 million from generous stakeholders, making a strong statement about their commitment to ASHRAE’s mission and to a shared vision of a healthy and sustainable built environment for all. “ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is an example of an effective built environment that fully considers the importance of effective operations by installing the systems and equipment in a manner that facilitates operation and maintenance,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE Presidential Member and Building Ad Hoc Committee Member Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “We are grateful to our donors for their generous support and partnership. It is this support that not only shows our donors’ alignment with ASHRAE’s sustainability goals, but helps us to address the challenges of designing and operate buildings in a technology driven environment.”
Daikin Singapore ("Daikin") announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SP Group ("SP") to provide Singapore's first large-scale residential centralized cooling system at Tengah. The MOU includes joint research and development, product innovation and marketing opportunities in Tengah, and future collaborative opportunities in Singapore and the region. The partnership builds on SP's expertise and strong track record in operating one of the world's largest underground district cooling system in Marina Bay and Daikin's strength in the air-conditioning industry through its Chilled Water System Equipment including chillers, water pumps, fan coil units, and maintenance services. smart energy solutions "Daikin is enthusiastic about this collaboration with SP Group. Daikin has designed unique equipment for this project in Tengah. With this collaboration, we look forward to working together to make the Tengah town energy-efficient, green and cool," said Mr Masanori Togawa, President and Chief Executive Officer, Daikin Industries, Ltd. Daikin will deploy its Building Management System to monitor and control Tengah's centralized cooling system Mr Stanley Huang, Group Chief Executive Officer, SP Group, said, "SP Group aims to enable a low-carbon, smart energy future by integrating sustainability into the everyday life of the residents. Through this collaboration with Daikin and building on SP's strong track record in providing smart energy solutions in Singapore, we look forward to helping households enjoy the reliability and energy efficiency of centralized cooling." low-carbon smart energy towns The centralized cooling system for residential Housing Development Board projects aims to optimize the energy consumption for air-conditioning needs and reduce the urban heat island effect. Around 22,000 households stand to benefit from this initiative and Tengah will be the model for low-carbon smart energy towns in Singapore. Daikin Singapore will deploy its Building Management System (BMS) to monitor and control Tengah's centralized cooling system. Following the acquisition of BMS Engineering last year, Daikin is now able to provide the technical equipment as well as maintenance of systems as a one-stop solutions provider. This collaboration marks a first for Daikin. The partnership with SP is part of Daikin's longer-term growth strategy to meet the changing requirements of energy players, sustainable architecture projects as well as the rising number of social-conscious citizens in need for more adaptable accommodations. Going Green Regionally Daikin and SP will monitor and optimize the model for Tengah and explore future opportunities to replicate the same reliable and efficient system in other parts of Singapore and the Southeast Asia region. This builds upon Singapore's ongoing roadmap for greener buildings as well as the longer-term vision for a Singapore Smart-city that includes sustainability in its advocacy.
A new cloud-based solution enables HVAC professionals to access VRF systems remotely to diagnose service issues and lessen the time and costs of providing service. CoolAutomation’s Remote HVAC Service Solution enables HVAC service providers to remotely troubleshoot issues by analyzing real-time and historic data trends and analysis. They receive automatic error and anomaly notifications in their office or on their mobile phones. “The remote service solution provides the tools that HVAC service providers need to offer remote services to their existing clients while attracting new customers who understand the value of remote service for their business,” says Roy Muchtar, VP of Products at CoolAutomation. variable refrigerant flow On site, a CoolAutomation CloudBox connects directly to the VRF and links to the cloud via routers and the Internet. The box shares data on the operation of the VRF to the cloud, where a subscription service enables it to be analyzed to determine any problems. The service solution can connect to any major VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system, including Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG, Samsung, et. al.; and can connect to VRF units from multiple manufacturers in case a customer has installed more than one. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation If a service provider is migrating from one brand to another, the cloud solution can operate with both if there is a period of overlapping systems. The experience is the same regardless of the VRF brand. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation, providing a benchmark of how the equipment operates when it is first commissioned. Over time, the technology collects and stores additional data on how it continues to function. remote service solution The service provider receives an email or an alert on their smart phone if something is wrong or if a component is operating outside a defined parameter. The remote service solution also shortens the cycle of service and support. In case service is needed, the provider can diagnose the problem remotely before he or she visits the site; in some cases, remote service can solve the problem. If any anomaly surfaces, the service provider has access to the entire history of system operation to show them what has changed and when. If a site visit is needed, the technician can arrive on site knowing what the problem is and with a plan (and required materials) to solve it quickly. There is no need, for example, for one site visit to diagnose a problem and then a second visit to fix it. cloud-based approach Knowing ahead the complexity of a problem helps service providers decide which technicians (e.g., what level of expertise) to send to the site. The cloud-based approach can also maximize productivity of a service company’s most experienced technicians. A knowledgeable technician can address multiple customer issues in less time, diagnose the problems remotely, and then dispatch less experienced technicians as necessary, knowing exactly what they need to do. The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging" In short, the remote service solution is another tool in a provider’s toolbox, helping them improve service, lower costs, and benefit their own bottom lines. There are also benefits for any companies seeking to provide “HVAC as a service” – less cost and more dollars go to the bottom line from any monthly subscription payments. remote service capabilities During the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of remote service have become even more obvious as a way to minimize customer visits. In fact, in general, end customers increasingly are coming to expect remote service capabilities from providers. “HVAC technical service organizations and HVAC contractors will have to make some transition in the way technical service is being provided because of the pandemic,” says Muchtar. “The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging in an environment of ever-changing travel restrictions.” The remote service solution also avoids having to set up an appointment to access a system if the building is vacant (because of coronavirus). Also, any anomalies in system operation are less likely to be noticed if the building is empty, so remote monitoring is even more valuable. From the end customer’s perspective, it is likely a service provider can solve any situation before the customer is even aware there is a problem. The time needed for problem resolution is shorter, and lifespan of the system is longer because small problems are addressed before they cause larger problems. In addition to service issues, the information stored in the cloud provides voluminous data that can be analyzed to yield insights on how the system has been used, the performance of various elements, etc. interpreting larger trends The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries A rules engine can aid with analyzing multiple factors to interpret larger trends. Rules can be customized to provide alerts based on specific parameters and/or anomalies, and customers can share a library of rules generated by other users. Alerts may include operational analytics (e.g., if the room temperature goes below 60 for 30 minutes), manufacturer alerts (if something is wrong with the VRF), and maintenance alerts (e.g., filter needs to be changed). The new technology, launched in late June, has been beta testing worldwide for several months, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany. The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries. targeting facility managers Use of the technology will soon be expanded beyond VRFs to connect with chillers and other more traditional HVAC systems; however, additional integration is needed to operate with various brands of chillers, each with a different interface. In addition to the remote service solution, CoolAutomation also offers a control application (for end users). Later this year, the company will be introducing an application targeting facility managers that addresses issues such as scheduling and energy consumption