AHR Expo 2020: Sustainability is the New Reality

February 14, 2020

Trane employee

Sustainability is becoming more deeply embedded into every aspect of business and buildings. Looking back at AHR Expo® 2020 last week in Orlando, we’re feeling proud of the way our industry has stepped up to the challenge. The quest to reduce fossil fuel emissions and protect precious water resources has become our shared industry mission.


Buildings still consume nearly 40% of the world’s energy use*, and we’re taking the challenge to achieve net zero buildings seriously. As the climate warms and the population grows, it’s going to take innovative approaches applied to old and new buildings to deliver first-world comfort to a growing middle-class without escalating climate impact. Here’s the bright spot: at AHR we saw hundreds of practical, affordable and innovative solutions that will collectively make buildings much softer on the fragile environment.


Not surprisingly, we saw many solutions for building efficiency relating to the IoT for buildings. Before we can get to a world that relies wholly on clean energy, deep decarbonization means treating every bit of fossil fuel energy as a resource that’s too precious to waste. Smarter, connected buildings that use wireless sensors, connected devices and machines, and cloud-based services can match energy use to occupancy more closely to eradicate waste. The practical use of artificial intelligence to optimize building performance is just on the horizon.


The equipment factor to the sustainability equation is equally intriguing. Countries with older buildings and higher population densities have paved the way when it comes to flexible solutions that introduce efficient comfort into spaces where it seemed almost impossible before. Now the U.S. is seeing double-digit growth in ductless solutions, trending toward mini splits. A new breed of smaller, more efficient chillers that use low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants will make it easier to replace older chillers that may be limiting sustainability progress. Perhaps most interesting is the new growth in geothermal systems and heat pumps that drastically reduce energy use, so that that even older buildings may be able to attain a zero net energy state.

To everyone who attended AHR Expo 2020, thanks for the inspiration. We’ve made it our mission to reduce the energy intensity of the world, and it feels good to know that we’re part of a bigger movement.

* Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration