Decarbonization or Energy Efficiency?

The terms “Decarbonization” and “CO2 reduction” have become quite popular over the past few years.  However, the approaches to how you achieve the end goal vary drastically. When choosing between deploying new energy technologies, new forms of carbon storage or removal, the cheapest and most effective path to short terms emissions reduction will always go through energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that about a third of all emissions reductions must come from efficiency alone. At the level of very simple interventions, this could be adding variable speed drives to pumps, motors etc.

“Energy Efficiency” should not be limited to the efficiency of a singular component but should be rated based on the operating point. For example:

  • A high-efficiency electrical motor running at a constant high speed may be considered an “energy-efficient” solution due to low energy consumption compared to other less efficient motors at the same operating point.
  • For comparison, a standard efficiency motor may still use less energy when operating at variable speeds, which may not make the motor “energy efficient” but it will make it “energy use efficient” because the speed follows the demand and reduces power consumption.
  • Alternatively, combining a high efficiency permanent magnet motor with the reduced load of a variable speed system, true energy optimization can be achieved.

Too often we fail to see the wasted energy use. We instead concentrate on implementing more efficient heat and cooling systems, ignoring the potential savings created by reducing the load. This savings in reduced load is amplified with a return of 100% (efficiency) savings as there are no loses in the heating or cooling system. Additionally, the reduction in load can reduce the capacity of the overall heating and cooling system thereby reducing capital cost.

ENERVEX has pioneered energy use efficiency since the early 1990s by optimizing the design and implementation of energy-saving, demand-controlled heating appliance exhaust systems – the “Chimney Automation Systems”. Since then, our technology evolved to include the first demand-controlled ventilation systems for dryers, kitchens, and bath/toilets in multi-story buildings. The intent has always been to increase energy savings by focusing on optimizing the performance of the dryer. However, as the added benefit of increasing the system efficiency by reducing the amount of make-up air required when the dryer(s) is not in operation.

The demand-controlled exhaust systems reduced the amount of conditioned air being exhausted, in effect reducing the load required to condition the makeup air. Applying this system in terms of CO2 reduction, the amount of conditioned air being exhausted along with the efficiency rating of the equipment used to condition the air directly calculates to the amount of C02 emissions, so any reduction in the air being exhausted also reduces C02 emissions.

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ENERVEX’s approach to reducing CO2 emissions in buildings isn’t only to increase efficiency of the heating and cooling systems used to condition the air in the buildings but also to focus on decreasing the overall load in the building. By focusing on decreasing the load, the equipment used to condition the air or hydronics systems in the buildings can operate less, thereby reducing the CO2 emissions of the building regardless of whether the equipment runs on fossil fuels or electricity. Since most of the electricity generation sources are fossil fuel based, even fully electrified buildings are still going to be indirectly emitting CO2 for the foreseeable future.

In the past year, several major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC have implemented some of the nation’s strictest CO2 emission reduction initiatives. In New York, for example, this will have a major impact on multi-story, multi-family housing due to a $268/ton CO2 New York City Emission Tax.

To show how “energy use efficiency” works, consider a 55-story mixed use building in New York City with 750 units. By converting from the industry standard single speed exhaust solution operating 24/7 to an ENERVEX MBES demand-controlled exhaust systems, a reduction of 437 metric tons of C02 emissions per year can be realized.

Additionally, the building could see a total energy savings of $307,521 due to a reduced exhaust rate of conditioned air. Coupled with the $268 per ton New York City emissions tax, the combined annual savings equal $425,000 in savings. With an estimated total install price of $240,000 and an expected ROI of 170-180%, an ENERVEX demand-controlled exhaust system is a sound choice for any multi-story residential building with CO2 reduction or energy savings goals.

Since the beginnings, ENERVEX has pioneered energy efficient building exhaust solutions. Combined with years of experience and engineers focused on finding solutions to complicated problems, ENERVEX can help you achieve your CO2 reduction and sustainability goals.