Posts tagged ‘trends’

May 10, 2017, 9:00 am

In Our Ever-changing World of Design, What’s Next?

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We have all seen how buildings change with the times. When there are more cars, more parking garages are created. As people move back into cities, mixed-use developments soar. As a new building material or mechanical system becomes popular, the industry quickly adopts it. The perennial question, then, is: What’s next?

In 2017, a recognizable answer is 3D-printed buildings. We’ve previously discussed how the industry has been excited about buildings that can be created at any time in any place. Another increasingly recognizable idea we’ve covered is green retrofitting – the practice of renovating old properties to be green instead of tearing them down and building new.

From here, it seems the industry is becoming more playful and resourceful. Dutch company Wikkelhouse makes fully functional homes out of 24 layers of cardboard wrapped around a mold. The houses are designed to last at least 50 years and are fully customizable.

Meanwhile, architects like Italy’s Stefano Boeri are designing “vertical forests.” These tall buildings feature ample trees and bushes; they’re planted on every floor, on all sides of the building. The idea is to improve air quality and tackle urban sprawl.

Here in the U.S., we’re also seeing a trend toward doing more with less. New York City recently received its first micro-unit apartment building, with units as small as 260 square feet. Washington, D.C., recently got its first pod hotel. The spaces are designed to be minimalist, but still livable and satisfying.

From an HVAC perspective, we’re curious about it all. Smaller spaces need smaller, more flexible HVAC solutions. Green buildings need super-efficient mechanical systems. Even cardboard homes need cooling and heating! We’re excited to think about how our zoned and VRF technologies can be applied to even the most creative projects. Because it seems that no matter what comes next, Mitsubishi Electric has an HVAC solution.

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December 13, 2016, 9:00 am

Green Retrofitting: The Future of the Past

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:

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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.

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November 17, 2016, 9:00 am

Our 3D-printed Future

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Photo: By Kjpargeter on Freepik.com

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:

  • Architects may see a new era of design freedom. Cost and process limitations that push architects toward rectilinear forms may be broken down, making curvilinear design achievable on a more regular basis.
  • Distributors may be able to stock products faster and more easily.
  • HVAC contractors may be able to acquire products faster and more easily, and at even more convenient locations.
  • End-users may be able to enjoy true customization, designing colors and images like photographs and favorite quotations directly into their homes and appliances.

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.

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October 4, 2016, 9:00 am

Be Sure to Sign Up for Our October Webinars

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Registration for our free, hour-long webinars is open! Topics will include: energy efficiency, advanced heating technology and ventilation.

  • On Tuesday, October 4, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT, Business Energy will host our own Kevin Miskewicz, LEED®Green Associate and director, commercial marketing; and Eric Dubin, senior director, national accounts and utility programs, to discuss energy efficiency. Attendees will learn about the latest energy efficiency innovations, energy mandates and utilities’ incentive programs.
  • On Thursday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CDT, Buildings will host a webinar in which Kevin Miskewicz is joined by our own Greg Hosselbarth, CEM, LEEDAP BD+C, regional manager, commercial, to discuss advanced heating technology. Attendees will learn the benefits of advanced heating technology and Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) and how they are an unbeatable combination.
  • On Wednesday, October 19, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT, Kevin Miskewicz and our own Joe Cefaly, manager, OEM applications, will discuss ventilation with HPAC Engineering. Attendees will hear about current trends and the future of ventilation.

Click on the topic to register for each webinar: energy efficiency, advanced heating technology and ventilation.

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September 28, 2016, 9:00 am

Student Housing Serves New Specials

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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:

  • Universities Go Big With Common Spaces and Academic Areas.” When choosing housing, students look for a space that serves academic and social purposes because “a lot of what students learn isn’t in the classroom.” Therefore, residential areas must include space for students to study collaboratively or individually. For students to work comfortably in these areas, residential spaces should have an HVAC system with zoning abilities and that can quickly and effectively respond to shifting occupancy levels.
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  • Housing Gets Branded as Lifestyle Takes Center Stage.” On- and off-campus housing that includes market-rate apartment amenities such as pools, fitness and media centers, and rock-climbing walls can encourage students to rent through university housing before looking to local apartment communities. To create physical space and a pleasant environment for these amenities, HVAC equipment must be small and whisper quiet; students want a rooftop pool, not a compressor farm.
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  • Cost Plays a Bigger Role in What Gets Built.” Although comfortable and productive living spaces are ideal for campus housing, some schools are having a difficult time finding the land and capital to improve their accommodations. A large component of this problem is that colleges don’t have the resources and management experience to operate an expanded housing portfolio. However, if these schools are unable to renovate their housing entirely, they can start the process by upgrading to a new HVAC system. Energy-efficient systems offer schools reduced energy usage and low utility bills in addition to increased resident comfort.

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.

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August 16, 2016, 9:00 am

Addressing the Growing Trend of Greenwashing

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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.”

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March 24, 2016, 9:00 am

Zoned Comfort Solutions in a Limited Rental Market

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In predicting the trends of the housing market for 2016, the Washington Post expects that, “for renters, 2016 will be a difficult year.” Specifically, it focuses on millennials – who are driving builders toward multifamily projects and apartment buildings, but also of empty-nesters – baby boomers whose millennial children have moved out and who are now scaling back in retirement.

Having both millennials and boomers in the market has created an inverse relationship resulting in a dramatically reduced supply. The Washington Post also notes that “builders have been slow to increase construction of new single-family homes,” which limits that supply further. Instead, what seems to be happening, writes Time magazine, is that investors are buying larger homes foregone by empty-nesters and renovating them to become multifamily rental spaces.

Though millennials will still have to delay becoming homeowners, the benefit is an exponential increase in rental space for all. For the building industry, the expansion of single-family homes into multifamily apartments means a need for energy-efficient, sustainable cooling and heating options. Installing zoned comfort solutions gives each family in these developments individual, personalized zones. This means that for renters who have limited options, more cost-efficient rental spaces are opening up.

House vector. People vector. Infographic vector designed by Freepik. Graphics have been edited.

March 9, 2016, 9:00 am

Steve O’Brien Invited to Speak at ACCA’s Annual CEO/Contractor Forum

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From Thursday, March 10 through Sunday, March 13, we will be participating in ACCA 2016, being held at the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom in North Carolina. As corporate sponsors of the conference, we are excited to showcase our products to HVAC contractors.

The highlight of the weekend promises to be the annual CEO/Contractor Forum. Our own Vice President of Residential Business, Steve O’Brien, will be a panelist. Topics for the panel include: technology and the internet, politics and policy and workforce development, as well as a host of other trends influencing the industry today. This is a great opportunity for contractors to discuss trends and challenges we currently face in the HVAC industry. We hope you’ll join us for this forum Friday, March 11, at 10 a.m.

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March 3, 2016, 9:00 am

Grads Are Migrating and That Means Growth for Everyone

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The New York Times chronicled the phenomenon of recent college grads – young professionals with entry-level income and, likely, a five-figure debt – opting to live in downtown urban areas rather than more affordable suburbs. However, this trend wasn’t exclusive to popular cities like New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC, but even blue-collar cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

As the next generation of professionals move to the city, corporations are following after them. For cities that are already thriving, this means further growth and expansion. For small cities, this economic influx will revitalize and reinvent. The fact remains: Prosperous or disadvantaged, inward migration is good for any city.

However, as business and population grows, so too must infrastructure. From a building perspective, cities will grow – sometimes out, but likely up. As cities evolve, technologies must adapt. Here at the forefront of cooling and heating innovation, we provide versatile products that can handle these new and space-demanding trends. The compact design of commercial products like our CITY MULTI® Variable Refrigerant Flow systems are a fit in most any application, especially in the mixed-use facilities that are likely to come from the demands of both a residential and commercial market.

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March 1, 2016, 9:00 am

Success Showing From Low-income Housing Initiatives

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Late last year, during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis called for an end to homelessness. It’s a crisis that remains at the front of our national consciousness. Incidentally, the building industry has the ability to contribute by developing affordable housing, and the outlook is good.

Last month, “Affordable Housing Finance” reported findings that the performance of Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) is trending upward. LIHTC incentivize property managers and industry professionals to develop low-income housing and those incentives are shown to have increased overall occupancy to 97.5 percent – according to this study from CohnReznick. This study also showed a decrease in the risks associated with low-income projects – including an improved debt coverage ratio.

As the frequency of new low-income projects continues to grow, we know that our cost-saving HVAC products can help keep energy bills down which makes low income housing that much more affordable. We strive to offer easy-to-install and affordable-to-maintain cooling and heating systems because all people should live comfortably without worry of the cost.

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