Airedale Respond to Richard Branson’s Comments on the Air Conditioning Industry
Last week, Richard Branson issued a strong statement about the air conditioning industry (you can read it on his blog here). At Airedale, we absolutely agree that environmental responsibilities need to be taken seriously. Adam Yarrington, our Product Development Director, responds:
“We at Airedale, along with many others, were very interested to read Mr Branson’s strong views on the air conditioning industry. Although we understand that the comments are more focused on the residential air conditioning market, the air conditioning industry as a whole and its supply chain need to take our environmental responsibilities seriously. As a collective we can do a lot more to ensure the products and solutions we supply are as energy efficient as possible in order to play our part in combatting climate change. As a leading UK manufacturer of precision air conditioning equipment and chillers with 45 years’ experience, Airedale International are one of the companies spearheading the drive towards greater energy efficiency, but are often hamstrung by a supply chain focused only on cost and by manufacturers and end users unwilling to take energy efficiency legislation seriously.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility is a key strategic priority for Airedale. For example we have always been an industry-leader in adopting new, environmentally-friendly refrigerant technology. We led the market years ago with the change from R22 to R407C refrigerant in 1994 on the ACC range of chillers and we were the first to market with a range of chillers utilising R1234ze in 2013. In fact, 75% of Airedale’s current R&D resource is focused upon developing products utilising market-leading low environmental impact refrigerants to recognise the duties that we have under the Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol.
In terms of energy efficiency, Airedale has developed products above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Ecodesign directive that came into force on 1/1/2018, aiming to achieve early Tier 2 compliance (which comes into force in 2021) wherever possible. It is important that end-users and contractors ensure suppliers are Ecodesign compliant and understand that this legislation can benefit them in terms of the running cost of their facilities. We would also make the point that the relevant standards bodies need to police this legislation and act accordingly where organisations are cutting corners to ensure a level playing field for all manufacturers.
Airedale has always focused upon innovation and energy efficiency in order to reduce overall lifecycle environmental impact and this is something that we will continue to strive to achieve. Airedale has a research team that are looking at emerging technologies and we welcome inventors and entrepreneurs to come to us with ideas that can make a difference to the energy efficiency and environmental impact of our products. For example, we worked closely with Turbocor during the development of their revolutionary centrifugal compressor and were one of the first to market with the ground-breaking technology that provided a game-changing increase in efficiency levels to the chiller market.
Building these efficiencies into product design is one thing but intelligent system design can also help end-users maximise efficiencies and reduce running costs. For example Airedale has been a pioneer of free cooling technology on its chiller products and introduced this energy-saving technology over 18 years ago (Ultima FreeCool). Most chillers at the time were supplying chilled water at 6/12°C whereas Airedale allowed water temperatures to float up to increase the possibilities for free cooling and enhance energy efficiency. Airedale looks beyond its products as simply boxes and looks as to how they work together as part of a much greater system. For example we provide intelligent controls solutions that allow our products to integrate with the other components in a building and create optimised operating conditions for devices and systems that save energy while maintaining performance.
The biggest challenge facing us however, as a company focused on end-user benefits like energy efficiency, is a market still obsessed with up-front capital expenditure. In order for the air conditioning industry to reach its true potential we need end-users, consultants and contractors to embrace the total cost of ownership discussion and not just select the cheapest up-front solution. In order for companies like Airedale to continue investing heavily in pushing the envelope of air conditioning efficiencies we must have a market that is receptive to the idea that an increase in up-front cost can deliver long term benefits, not just for accountants but also for the planet.”
Adam Yarrington, Product Development Director, Airedale
International Air Conditioning.
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