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HVAC: Emerging Technologies for the Future

Industry leaders discuss heat pumps and other technology developments facility managers need to know about

By Dave Lubach, Executive Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: HVAC: What’s in Store for 2024 – and BeyondPt. 2: This Page

During the COVID-19 pandemic, facility managers worked to upgrade their HVAC systems to improve indoor air quality in their buildings. As the pandemic started to subside, the emphasis for systems turned toward efforts to decarbonize buildings and work toward achieving net-zero emissions status. 

As facilities like school districts, universities, healthcare and commercial office buildings receive upgrades, stakeholders are taking advantage of previously unheard-of funding opportunities to pay for them through government programs such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Building Operating Management magazine reached out to industry experts who spoke at the AHR expo in January to get their thoughts on some of the issues affecting facility managers in the commercial and institutional market. 

Participants include: 

Building Operating Management: We hear a lot about the emergence of heat pumps in the housing market, but where are we with heat pumps in the institutional and commercial market? And where are we going?  

Yurek: While heat pumps can be extremely efficient and can heat, cool, and heat water, heat pumps in commercial spaces are less prevalent than in residential spaces for three main reasons: One, they can be costlier to purchase, install and maintain; two, they lack the tax rebates and other incentives that residential units enjoy; and three, in most areas of the country, electricity is more expensive than natural gas, making ongoing system costs higher. I think you will see heat pumps gain a larger share of the commercial market as we move farther into the 2020s, but it is likely to be a slow process. 

Scoggins: Heat pumps are being touted in most industries, and they have come a long way, especially for cold climates. Facility managers need to recognize their needs, and if heat pumps can be effective in accomplishing their goals, and then possibly supplement the heat pump with other sources as needed to accomplish their goals. 

Walker: Heat pumps are increasingly gaining traction in the housing market, but their adoption in the institutional and commercial sectors is also on the rise. We’re seeing a shift towards more efficient and environmentally friendly heating and cooling solutions, with heat pumps playing a central role. Moving forward, we expect further integration of heat pump technology into larger-scale HVAC systems in commercial and institutional buildings. 

BOM: What are some other emerging technologies in the HVAC industry that facility managers need to know about?  

Scoggins: We are dealing with the unknowns of artificial intelligence (AI) in our industry, but one of the most promising aspects of AI is in the realm of analytics so that facility managers can get real-time data on system problems and correct them in a timely manner. 

Walker: Advancements in indoor air quality solutions such as UV-C disinfection systems and air purification technologies, as well as the integration of building automation systems for seamless control and optimization of HVAC operations. 

BOM: What is one word or phrase about HVAC that facility managers need to know in 2024, and why?  

Walker: Smart building integration. With the increasing interconnectedness of building systems and the rise of Internet of Things technology, facility managers must understand how HVAC systems can be integrated into broader smart building ecosystems. This integration not only enhances operational efficiency, but also enables predictive maintenance and better occupant comfort, ultimately driving overall building performance. 

Yurek: Changes are coming – pay attention. In addition to the refrigerant transition, states and localities are busy enacting mandates that likely will affect your facilities, and you need to stay up to date as these developments progress. A great way to do that is through your trade association. We also have a wealth of information on and at Aside from the refrigerant transition, natural gas bans, either explicit or de facto, climate reporting requirements, and building code changes are just three important issues of which facility managers must keep abreast. It’s no longer enough to just ensure tenants are comfortable, equipment is properly maintained, and costs are contained.” 

Dave Lubach is the executive editor for the facility market. He has more than nine years of experience writing about facility management and maintenance issues. 

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  posted on 5/14/2024   Article Use Policy

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