To this point, the latest McGraw-Hill Construction report on new and remodeled green homes found that energy-efficient appliances are some of the first things homebuyers look for in a new house — second only to having enough square footage to live comfortably. This was true for both millennials and baby boomers — two generations poised to purchase homes in great numbers.
Why do homebuyers look for energy-efficient appliances? To save on monthly costs and anything related to maintenance. It’s common knowledge that HVAC systems account for a significant portion of monthly energy costs, so many homebuyers think of these systems first. In the latest study by the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers were asked to rank which features are most important to them in their new house. Respondents said HVAC systems were the number one essential feature when it comes to environment.
It’s no surprise the appetite for energy-efficient appliances and the concern over HVAC energy costs has resulted in strong and ever-increasing consumer demand for energy-efficient HVAC. Countless studies and surveys are concluding this very same thing — some looking at demand, others at supply. One example is Navigant Research’s recent report showing that annual revenue from energy-efficient HVAC systems will almost double in the next 15 years, growing to $33.2 billion by 2020.
For builders, the focus on energy-efficient appliances — and energy-efficient HVAC in particular — is an incredible opportunity. If homebuyers are looking for appliances from trusted, well-known brands, builders can feature these products. If buyers are searching out green-certified homes, builders can embark on green projects. This seems to be a time of “if you build it, they will come.” And, even more so, “if you build it energy-efficient, they will buy.”
If you want to learn more about why homebuyers want efficient products in their homes, check out our Builder newsletter.
If you want to learn more about remote facility management, check out our Facility Management newsletter.
As a society, we are increasingly demanding sustainability in all facets of life. The effect on the building industry has been staggering. Owners and managers of commercial buildings have quickly learned that going green can save on operating costs and can attract more, higher-paying tenants. As the U.S. Green Building Council recently learned, the result has been a dramatic increase in demand for green facilities.
Some of that demand is being met by new, high-performance buildings. To fully meet the mandate, however, the industry will need to take on a significant number of green commercial retrofit projects. The good news: The U.S. Energy Information Agency’s recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey found that about half of America’s commercial buildings were built before 1980 – creating a wealth of buildings just waiting to get the green treatment.
The scope of each commercial retrofit will include meeting tenant requirements for features like rooftop gardens, recycling and composting programs, and green transportation options. The list of mechanical systems that engineers will be asked to update isn’t unexpected. It includes:
For all of these systems, the question will be what technology or product can help a project meet its client’s needs and budget, as well as today’s building codes. A frequent answer: super-efficient, state-of-the-art technologies – the same ones that were once considered “alternative.”
If you want to learn more about green retrofits, check out our Engineer newsletter.
3D printing has truly arrived. We’ve already seen the medical industry’s revolution begin with affordable prosthetics, and we are on the verge of printing functional human body parts. Indeed, 3D printing has already begun influencing almost every industry – automotive, entertainment, wearables, even the funeral industry.
The building industry is no exception. At first, individual building components were 3D printed – screws, planks, walls. Now, we’re seeing entire buildings. Recently, Dubai made the world’s first 3D-printed office building – including furnishings and interior design!
It’s not hard to understand the appeal. The Dubai office building took just 19 days to print and install. The total cost was $140,000 – half the cost of traditional building. Incredible, almost unbelievable stories like this are cropping up all over, for example one about a Chinese company 3D printing 10, single-story homes in under 24 hours.
For individual consumers, it’s an exciting time. For professionals in the building industry, it may also be an anxious time. We don’t yet know how the industry will be affected since 3D printing is really in its infancy despite some remarkable success stories. How will 3D printing affect manufacturing? Labor? Design? Some of these questions will be answered in the immediate future, but some won’t get answered for quite some time.
When it comes to our business, it will be a while before customers are asking for 3D-printed HVAC units. When they do, though, it could be with good reason. Here are some possibilities to look forward to:
We’re not 3D printing our products just yet – don’t get too excited – but our very own Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) is doing cutting-edge research on 5D printing, keeping Mitsubishi Electric at the front of the pack during this amazing period of technological advancement.
College campuses are trending, and not just with restaurant-quality dining or extra-curricular activities; they’re attracting high school graduates with student housing – specifically with “live and learn” residential communities. Building Design + Construction magazine reported on these newly developed accommodations that are practical and productive for students. A lot sounded familiar to the conversations we have surrounding the importance of smart HVAC solutions:
To learn more about how HVAC can benefit the design and construction of student housing, check out these case studies featuring our products: The Suites on Paseo and Montserrat College of Art, Residential Village.
Healthcare Facilities Management magazine recently reported the success of some HVAC systems in health and wellness facilities. With stringent indoor air quality requirements, these facilities need systems that condition outside air, monitor and control humidity, filter air and provide ample ventilation. The article reported that beyond these measurable requirements, facility managers also want sustainable and energy-efficient systems. It also recognized a few manufacturers – including us – as meeting these needs.
Specifically, our latest Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) innovation, CITY MULTI® L-Generation Air-source technology, was recognized for its improvements in efficiency and its ability to maximize heat transfer. In regard to facility management, the magazine celebrated our Diamond Controls™ Solutions for its assistance in helping managers modify zone temperatures and observe building conditions, such as occupancy, CO2 levels, energy usage and humidity levels.
To learn more about how our VRF performs in health and wellness facilities, check out these case studies: Choctaw General Hospital and Grand Lake Mental Health Center.
First came the trend of going green – a good thing. Now the trend is greenwashing – not a good thing.
A company or organization greenwashes by marketing itself as green but not offering products or services that are actually green. A realtor might list a house as being “green,” for example, when none of its components were designed or installed to minimize environmental impact. Or a hotel might claim to have green practices because it washes occupants’ sheets every third day instead of every day, but its lighting, HVAC, kitchens and vehicles are all voracious energy-consumers.
The result is that consumers are now being told to be suspicious of the word “green.” A recent Washington Post article made this very suggestion, telling buyers to “be wary of houses that are marketed as energy-efficient.” There is unfortunately truth to this statement. Some organizations unfairly claim that their products are green or contribute to a greener overall building. The risk is that the field may get tainted for the rest of us; consumers may come to think of green as a gimmick – something they’ve been duped by in the past.
As is so often the case, the best thing we can do is educate. HVAC contractors sitting across the table from homeowners can discuss the importance of energy efficiency in having a green home, pointing toward our zoning systems’ industry-leading efficiencies and how they tie into a host of green technologies like solar panels. Architects meeting with clients interested in green certification can discuss how our VRF systems’ efficiencies consistently help projects earn 28 points across two LEED® categories (Energy and Atmosphere and Indoor Environment) – advancing the project further down the track toward certification. Professionals can also talk with clients about green raters, ENERGY STAR® certification and countless other resources.
As members of the building industry, we need to do our part in educating potential clients so they know what to look for when searching for “green.”