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Powering buildings with energy-efficient technologies
By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino
Special Features Writer
AS EXCESSIVE electricity consumption increasingly takes its toll on the environment, building administrators will have to adopt energy-efficient technologies to save power. They can start with elevators and air-conditioning systems.
Rajan Komarasu, group director of Alstra, the commercial division of Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), said that the adoption of environmental-friendly solutions in the country is primarily low, but companies today — especially those that are managed by millennials — are showing interest to try energy-efficient technologies.
“In the last two years, there’s a shift. The management of most of the buildings, of most of the companies, is run by millennials. They tend to be technology savvy, so they want to try out new things,” Mr. Komarasu told BusinessWorld in a Feb. 28 interview.
“We are very confident [that] in the next five years we’re going to see a shift. More and more developers are going to start asking for solutions that can bring up the image of their building,” he added.
Many countries, including the Philippines, depend on non-renewable energy sources such as coal, fossil fuels, petroleum, and natural gas to meet the demand in electricity.
Almost half or 48% of the total power generation in the country comes from coal, 22% from natural gas, 6% from oil-based generation, and the remaining 24% from renewable energy-based generating facilities, according to a 2016 report by the Department of Energy.
“Imagine the amount of energy being consumed. You’re burning more fuel to generate energy. Obviously, it has an environmental impact,” Mr. Komarasu said. “When you burn a lot of fuel, of course, there’s an accumulation of carbon dioxide that has an implication to climate change and emits greenhouse gases and so on.”
In terms of energy consumption, buildings are the largest energy consumers, accounting for 40% of the total. Air-conditioning systems alone take about 40% of the energy buildings consume, Mr. Komarasu said.
Alstra continuously seeks ways in developing technologies that help buildings save power, he said.
Last year, the company, under its Carrier brand, introduced the AquaEdge 19DV, the next-generation chiller that utilizes lift optimization technology which allows “excellent” cooling efficiency. It also upgraded its existing VRF system under the Toshiba brand with Super Modular Multi System (SMMS) 7. It has an improved energy efficiency of around 15% compared to its older version.
For elevator — which is also an important machinery in buildings — Alstra, under the Otis brand, sets the standard in energy efficiency with the GeN2-Regen. It has an energy saving feature that uses up to 70% less energy than the traditional elevators.
When the lift moves down with heavy load or moves up with light load, the difference in the amount of energy unused is recycled somewhat and fed back to an internal grid to power the rest of the building.
“The amount of money you’re investing in running these solutions can be offset. In some cases that we have seen — by introducing this technology — you can actually get your investment in six months,” Mr. Komarasu said.
He added, “If you start to focus on introducing energy-efficient technologies, you [can] save money from it and you [can] direct that savings to other places… You can also get better image if you have green and sustainable buildings. You can command higher renters and tenants.”
To make buildings more energy efficient, Mr. Komarasu said that building operators and developers must also give attention to the design of the structure up to the installation and maintenance of the air conditioning system.