“A net-zero building future will rely on the continued push for innovation, expanded public-private partnerships to drive step-changes in technology adoption and regulatory actions to increase affordability of the highest efficiency technologies available. As we look to COP27, we welcome the international dialogue among business, governments and community leaders focused on accelerating climate action for the benefit of all global citizens.” – Jennifer Anderson, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Business Development & Chief Sustainability Officer, Carrier
To stabilize global warming, the building sector must completely decarbonize, or achieve net-zero status, by 2050. Buildings contribute approximately 40% of global energy related greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Within a building, heating and cooling is approximately 40% of its energy consumption which represents approximately 15% of global GHG today. That’s why we at Carrier, are so focused on heating, cooling and building control technologies as critical decarbonization technologies that also provide the societal benefit of health. As temperatures rise, energy demand for cooling, without decarbonization efforts, could more than triple by 2050 and consume as much electricity as all of China and India combined. At the same time, it’s estimated that over 3 billion people are at some health and safety risk due to lack of access to cooling. Increasing demand for HVAC solutions, coupled with an increasingly carbon-constrained world is the both the challenge and opportunity before us. As the leading global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable and intelligent buildings, Carrier is well-positioned to make a meaningful difference to critical issues facing people and our planet. But to reach net-zero buildings, we must pass three tollgates for technology, public-private partnerships and government regulation.
Tollgate 1: Technology
Within the HVAC industry, heat pump technology is benefitting from the shift to electric solutions. Heat pumps are versatile in creating indoor comfort—they provide heat in winter and can also act as air conditioners in summer, so people in warmer climates can heat and cool their home using just a heat pump system. If implemented globally, these pumps for heating alone could cut global CO₂ emissions by 3 gigatons annually. Technology must keep pace for continued energy efficient heat pumps for adoption in all global climates. The HVAC industry and Carrier specifically are also investing in many new disruptive technologies that are focused on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-based building controls to optimize energy usage in a building, electrification of HVAC products, natural refrigerants and other highly efficient enablers to decarbonize heating and cooling solutions.
Tollgate 2: Public-Private Partnerships
With the promise of heat pumps, there are limitations – the colder the climate, the less efficient heat pumps become. To address this, the U.S. Department of Energy launched the Cold Climate Heat Pump (CCHP) Challenge, which requires equipment to perform at 5 degrees Fahrenheit and below, and supports electricity grid impacts during peak times to help prevent grid stress and rolling brownouts. The performance specifications were developed based on a review of current CCHP performance data and discussions with several manufacturers on technology opportunities and limitations. The DOE’s Challenge is a proven model for industry and government working side-by-side. Carrier is proud to be one of six original equipment manufacturers participating in the Challenge and only one of two that have successfully met the requirements of Phase 1 thus far.
Tollgate 3: Government Regulation and Incentives
But technology alone cannot get us to net-zero buildings. Regulatory standards are necessary to create an innovative environment that accelerates effective and timely innovation. Take Carrier as an example, when we look at our leading US residential HVAC business, 44% of those sales are for Energy Star rated equipment. To scale energy efficiency, we must address the economic barriers to reach the remaining 56% of customers. Government incentives, like those included in the Inflation Reduction Act, can play a big role, especially to ensure equitable access to cooling as temperatures rise. Across the HVAC industry, the average efficiency of air conditioners sold today is less than half of what is typically available on the shelves – and one third of the best available technology. So, when we think about a net-zero building reality, the most effective policies will be those that facilitate the broader adoption of the best available technologies that are both accessible and affordable for all consumers.
A net-zero building future will rely on the continued push for innovation, expanded public-private partnerships to drive step-changes in technology adoption and regulatory actions to increase affordability of the highest efficiency technologies available. As we look to COP27, we welcome the international dialogue among business, governments and community leaders focused on accelerating climate action for the benefit of all global citizens.