Chances are you’ve heard about decarbonization and electrification: two six-syllable words that may sound like a weird new diet. They are in a way – but for fossil fuel consumption, not calories. And engineers and building owners should be paying attention.
The march toward a decarbonized future continues across the United States. To date, 19 states have adopted 100% carbon-free electricity mandates, which will drive significant changes in how energy is produced along with electrification requirements for building HVAC1. For engineers and building owners, the time to start preparing is now.
Decarbonization is about changing how we generate and consume energy to address climate change, reduce fossil fuel consumption and build a more sustainable economy. It includes modernizing the national electric grid to incorporate substantial renewable energy resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Perhaps more importantly for Trane and consumers, it also extends to how we use energy at the local level to power and heat buildings through increased electrification, instead of using natural gas and other fossil fuels.
Transformation has already begun
Companies across the country are pushing for climate-related changes, and government at all levels is enacting policy to drive transformation.
- Many U.S. corporations are adopting climate-related commitments, including “net-zero” sustainability goals and/or carbon neutrality commitments3
- In addition to state electricity mandates, 325 U.S. cities have made commitments to climate action, and 18 of the top 20 most-populated cities have established quantified goals for fossil fuel reduction in their municipalities4
- U.S federal government policies commit to reducing the nation’s GHG emissions to 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Updated U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards for buildings are in the works to help get us there5
Ultimately, decarbonization and electrification will result in an end-to-end transformation of the nation’s energy generation, supply and consumption infrastructure. Building owners and their facilities will play a key role, because 25% of building energy is used for regulating temperature indoors and the electrification of heat will be a primary tool to reduce overall building emissions2. The time to prepare is now.
The key: A good plan with expert support
Adapting to this new energy landscape starts with having a plan for your facilities to stay ahead of the change. The equipment required to transition and electrify buildings exists and is available.
The most practical first step is to increase energy efficiency efforts in buildings to further reduce energy consumption where possible, such as:
- Choosing higher efficiency HVAC equipment
- Switching to LED lights
- Adjusting thermostat setpoints at night
- Installing more energy-efficient windows
- Using building controls to automate based on occupancy schedules and setpoints
Then, go for the heavier lift – electrification. There are many technologies to consider, including heat pump-based systems such as VRF and air-to-water heat pumps, electric boilers and energy recovery systems. Employing additional building controls and energy services such as emissions tracking, usage monitoring and energy performance data can help optimize consumption. On-site renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar, thermal batteries, chemical batteries and carbon capture systems may also be appropriate strategies to consider.
Making sense of the many choices requires working with a knowledgeable partner, a partner that is taking the same journey you are. Sustainability is a core value for Trane. We’ve pledged to reduce our customers’ carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons by 2030 with our Gigaton Challenge, using innovative clean technologies and energy efficiency. We’re also reimagining our supply chain and operations to work toward carbon neutral operations and reducing our absolute energy use by 10 percent.
We know what it takes to transform to this new energy marketplace because we’re making the same kinds of changes ourselves. Whether for light commercial buildings, large complex operations or multi-site organizations, Trane has the technology and expertise to help you.