Experts discussed new initiatives, refrigerants, energy policy and fueling energy efficiency in the public sector at the Danfoss Envisioneering symposiumheld in Washington, D.C., in November. More than 50 HVAC&R industry professionals gathered to hear speakers including (L-R)Mack McFarland, global environmental manager, DuPont Fluorochemicals, U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Robert Wilkins, president of Danfoss North America.
Also speaking at the event were:
Congressman Tonko, a former engineer, said America’s energy efficiency challenge is similar to that of putting a man on the moon more than 40 years ago.
“Today we face a similar race, a global energy race,” he said.
Tonko, who served as president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority from 2007 to 2008, added: “The best kilowatt we can create is the one we never have to use – through energy efficiency.”
Robert Wilkins, president of Danfoss North America, said, “We’re in the midst of the most important political discussions on energy and refrigerant issues that our industry has seen – issues that will impact our businesses as we move into the next decade and beyond.”
Clinton highlighted the “big three” national energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to be funded by the $12 billion-plus earmarked under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): the Weatherization Assistance Program ($6 billion), which helps low-income consumers weatherize their homes; the State Energy Program ($3.1 billion), which focuses on commercial and institutional buildings; and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program ($3.2 billion), managed largely by local municipalities.
Also, ARRA has allocated $4.5 billion for smart grid upgrades, with $100 million available for green jobs through the U.S. Department of Labor, Clinton noted.
In spite of the opportunities and potential of these programs, Clinton cited several bureaucratic problems (the National Environmental Protection Act, Davis-Bacon Act and Buy American program), adding that states don’t always have the internal resources to effectively manage and execute energy efficiency programs. To date, only $200 million to $300 million for ARRA funds have actually been spent, but according to Clinton, the stage is now set for state and local governments to quickly expend all these ARRA dollars for their intended purposes.
HVAC/R contractors who want to take advantage of these programs should contact their state energy office, research programs involving energy service companies (ESCOs) and tap into local programs, such as those implemented under the Block Grant, Clinton advised.
Meanwhile, the federal government is doing its part to lead by example, according to the DOE’s Nasseri. In September, Obama signed Executive Order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performnce.” It requires federal agencies to increase energy efficiency; measure, report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; conserve and protect water resources; eliminate waste, recycle and prevent pollution; and foster markets for sustainable technologies and environmentally preferable materials, products and services.
Another example of the federal government leading by example is Title V of the ARRA, Nasseri said. It allocates $4.5 billion to convert General Services Administration (GSA) facilities to high-performance green buildings.
In a session on refrigerants, DuPont’s McFarland said, “If we stabilized carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million -- the consensus target of many countries -- but let HFC use continue along business-as-usual scenarios, then by 2050 the climate contribution of HFC emissions could be 28 to 45 percent as large as carbon dioxide,” citing a study he co-authored earlier this year and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Demand for HFC refrigerants is expected to grow due to the phaseout of CFCs and HCFCs, with most of that growth expected to come from developing countries such as China and India, he said. In 2007, developing countries were already using more HCFC refrigerants than developed countries did at the peak of their use, McFarland noted. Most of these HCFCs would be replaced with HFCs over the coming decades in a business-as-usual case.
McFarland also presented a look at how the U.S. market, by sector, could meet cap and reduction targets set forth in the Waxman-Markey proposal.
The EPA’s Hufford recently participated in an international Meeting of Partners (MOP-21) in Egypt, during which the participants discussed phasing down global-warming HFC refrigerants globally through the Montreal Protocol. As a result, the developing countries requested more technical information about HFCs and their proposed phasedown.
“Montreal has a clear, binding commitment for developed and developing countries,” Hufford said. Climate protection of Montreal is 5-6 times that of the Kyoto Protocol, according to a study McFarland presented.
Hufford said she views the request as a positive step and believes an international climate change conference, taking place right now in Copenhagen, Denmark, will provide “additional clarity” on the HFC issue.Prospects are bright for an international agreement on HFCs in 2010, she added.
During the session on fueling energy efficiency in the public sector, Andres of the National Defense University explained that the U.S. military is going green to support the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, save money and contribute to national energy security.
For example, at large military bases in Afghanistan, problems include rapidly growing energy demands, effectively heating and cooling shelters, other electricity demands, inefficient generators and a need for alternative, indigenous power sources. Andres said the HVAC/R industry can help the military by providing innovative, energy-efficient solutions to these complex problems.
Lord of Carrier Corp. spoke about the major initiatives revolving around refrigerants and energy efficiency and the role of total system efficiency to achieve a net zero building by 2030.
“The building industry has been active in developing proposals for improved energy efficiency in response to the Energy Policy Act,”
he said, noting that a new version of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 is scheduled for completion in 2010. The new version’s energy efficiency standard is targeted to be 30% below that of the current standard, established in 2004.
The industry is beginning to use new initiatives for Tier II and Tier III standards that would be used for owners wanting to design a more efficient building, utilities seeking to reduce power and peak load, state and federal buildings requiring higher performance, and owners desiring LEED-certified buildings, he said.
“We’ve made significant energy improvements, but we’re now approaching the limits of technology,” Lord said. “The most logical approach is to focus on system level. These strategies include designing the building to reduce heating and cooling loads, and using renewable sources, energy recovery, natural lighting, natural ventilation, advanced controls, diagnostics and prognostics, and high-efficiency equipment. And we are seeing initiatives start to take shape, such as the ASHRAE Building Quotient introduced in June.”