For many years, energy and facility managers have been at the forefront of an organisation’s efforts to introduce and maintain practices that are environmentally friendly.
Recycling is universal, LED lighting is commonplace and buildings are now designed from the ground up specifically to mitigate environmental impact.
In fact, for those whose responsibility it is to drive forward an organisation’s green credentials, there is an increasing pressure to find new and innovative ways of increasing a building’s energy efficiency and its ultimate impact on the world around us.
The World Energy Outlook 2019 research documents what would happen if we continue on the current trajectory, with energy usage rising by 1.3% each year to 2040, and increasing demand for energy services resulting in a relentless upward march in energy-related emissions.
Part of the pressure of exploring and harnessing new energy efficiency measures comes from an impetus to not only save money, but to protect reputation.
In the hospitality sector, according to a European Commission report reviewing environmental management practice in the tourism sector, the average hotel with 80% occupancy consumes 600MWh a year for HVAC alone, and consumers have an increased desire to see organisations taking action. More than half (58%) want to stay in accommodation with environmentally-friendly practices according to a Visit England report.
In fact, there’s not just a pull towards businesses implementing green practices, those who don’t adopt them are fast being left behind – nearly two third of consumers surveyed by analytics company Nielsen said they would boycott a business based on its stand on societal issues such as the environment.
Despite this, when it comes to reducing the amount of energy used to maintain a comfortable temperature inside a building, innovation has been sorely lacking.
Individual building management policies tend to focus on looking at the way in which air conditioning systems are used, rather than the efficiency of the systems themselves.
It’s essential to use fluids to circulate heat effectively but there’s previously been a dearth of options available to improve that efficiency. It’s been a choice between a poorly performing heat transfer fluid or simply water.
Neil Jimpson, technical sales manager at Kilfrost, said: “Chilled water systems are used in the majority of air conditioning units in commercial properties because the alternative, glycol, just isn’t efficient and is fairly viscous, meaning it takes a great deal more pumping power to circulate the fluid through the system.
“But with the only alternative, water, the freezing point is the problem. You have to put additives into the system such as anti-freeze and anti-corrosion fluids. Because of this the costs start to mount up and regular maintenance is essential.
“It’s amazing more hasn’t been done in the past to improve the efficiency of air conditioning units given their usage worldwide.”
But now, thanks to hard work behind the scenes of chemists who study the flow of liquids, new developments promise to end the dilemma and herald potential new green options – and cost savings – for energy and facilities managers.
Scientists at British-based Kilfrost used their expertise in the aviation industry to take on the challenge two years ago.
Mr Jimpson said: “We knew we had to make a fluid that was more energy efficient than glycol, but also one that could maintain its efficiency at low temperatures. It was essential to reduce pumping costs and increase hydraulic efficiency.”
The results of testing the Advanced Low Viscosity (ALV) fluid were impressive. It has been shown to be 66% less viscous than MPG and offer lucrative energy savings. It has an operational temperature down to -40°C and is said to outperform MEG, MPG, Bio-PDO and ethanol-based heat transfer fluids.
The ALV fluid is part of a family of efficient heat transfer fluids created by the firm, which have been shown in trials to offer electricity savings through a reduction in pump operating costs. A non-toxic, NSF certified version, ALV Plus, is also available for use in the food and beverage sectors.
Mr Jimpson added that data from external tests on the performance of the fluids would be submitted to OEM simulators, allowing Kilfrost to demonstrate the efficiency and performance benefits as well as evaluate the use of smaller HVAC systems.
“The steps organisations take to truly reduce their impact on the climate has never been more in the spotlight and inaction is quickly highlighted by an increasingly environmentally-aware public.
“The results of our work could bring choice for those organisations seeking to demonstrate they are at the leading edge of implementing new ways to protect the environment. Frankly, they’ve waited long enough.”