IOR -The RACHP sector & the critical part we must play in the net zero agenda - Presidential Address

3rd November 2022 4:45 pm

The UK Government has set a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as part of their attempt to address the climate change emergency and the associated impact. The built environment is responsible for around 40% of total carbon emissions, and an environmental audit committee report[1] highlighted that 3% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are of HFCs.

The Committee on Climate Change has said that to meet the commitment to reach net zero by 2050, 19 million heat pumps will need to be installed and that hybrid heat pumps should be widely used by 2035.

Heat pumps are not a new technology – they have been used in a variety of different applications for many years. However, their increased use comes at a time when the legislative landscape is looking increasingly at restricting or limiting the use of refrigerants that have a direct environmental impact. This places additional considerations on the building services designer with regard to which refrigerants can be used and what the likelihood is of restrictions on their use over time.

Heat recovery is also not a new concept – it has been used very effectively for decades in a variety of applications and incorporating different technologies to achieve and deliver low carbon solutions before we even thought that “low carbon” was necessary. We did it because it saved money.

Our sector – representing industrial and commercial refrigeration as well as building services air conditioning and heat pump applications – needs to approach projects with a far more collaborative attitude going forward if tomorrow’s buildings are to be truly carbon neutral. Megawatts of usable heat is being rejected from cooling applications every year and much of this could, with a little bit of joined up thinking, be recovered and used to supply heat for heat networks or social housing built near the non-domestic buildings. The building services design consultants need to work more collaboratively with the refrigeration consultants, rather than in the traditional silos, so that we can harness rejected heat and help our built environment become truly carbon neutral.

My paper will discuss these options and offer some solutions by example and with reference to case studies which have proven that the technology and applications work in the real world.

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