Heating and cooling: a route to net zero emissions

Sponsored content: Heat pumps, district heating and thermal storage can radically reduce the carbon footprint of buildings compared to gas boiler systems

New York (Photo: Andreas Wulff/Flickr)


The construction and operations of buildings is responsible for 39% of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions with nearly half due to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

These numbers are even higher in densely built environments like New York and London where homes and workplaces make up an immense 70% and 78% of the cities’ total annual emissions, respectively.

Trane Technologies, an international manufacturer of HVACR solutions, believes that significant efficiency improvements in heating and cooling is the key element to carving a path to net zero and is calling for transformative decarbonisation efforts.

“As a company, and industry, we have an enormous opportunity to reduce emissions and energy usage by using our scale and position to lead”, said Dave Regnery, Trane Technologies’ Chair and CEO.

Trane Technologies has set a number of bold emission reduction targets by 2030, including the reduction of one gigaton of carbon emissions from their customers’ footprint, a transition to carbon neutral operations and sending zero waste to landfill. The company is among 47 companies to have had its carbon emission goals validated by the Science Based Targets Institute (SBTi) twice.

“As ambitious as these goals are I’m confident that we can reach them because we’re already accelerating progress through existing technologies like electrification, thermal storage, and connected solutions,” Regnery said.

At the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK, Trane Technologies proposed the scale up of system level energy efficiency technology in existing buildings and refrigerated transport solutions, as well as accelerating the electrification of comfort and process heating, like heat pumps.

Technology ready for scale

“Commercial buildings have traditionally relied on separate heating and cooling systems with an independent boiler and chiller; an inefficient process and carbon emissions contributor,” said Donny Simmons, president of Trane Commercial HVAC Americas.

“With inventive heat pump technology, we combine these two systems into one for simultaneous heating and cooling with heat recovery, offering a high-efficiency, fully electric system with the potential to be a zero-emissions solution when paired with renewable energy sources.”

These fully electric heat-pump systems recover and repurpose heat and are 350% more efficient than most gas boiler systems. Solutions exist for all building types – residential homes, multifamily dwellings and large commercial properties.

In one example, Aalsmeer Energy Hub, south of Amsterdam, uses Trane heat pumps to capture and send waste heat from a data centre to a nearby school, plant nursery, and swimming pool to be reused as heating. Water then returns at a lower temperature to the data centre where it is used for cooling to repeat the process in a closed loop system. The system pumping the water is completely running off solar energy.

Additional decarbonisation technologies like thermal storage and connected controls offer improvements for highly efficient, smart buildings to keep people healthy and comfortable, while reducing energy use and emissions for customers.

New York City commercial landlord SL Green came to Trane to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of its 11 Madison Avenue building in Manhattan. The company retrofitted the site with two centrifugal chillers and a thermal storage solution that produces 500,000 pounds of ice at night when electricity is cheaper and cleaner, to cool the building during the day.

The project has reduced tenant energy costs by 10%, annual energy and operating costs by $730,000, and annual carbon emissions by 634 metric tons – the equivalent of taking around 130 cars off the road.

Electrification of the cold chain can also contribute to the net-zero emissions goal, especially as more fleet operators adopt electric modes to transport goods.

To enable the transition to fully electric vehicles, Trane Technologies has committed to invest more than $100 million over the next three years to deliver an electric product in every segment of the refrigerated transport cold chain by 2023 in EMEA and 2025 in the Americas.

“We don’t have to wait for new innovations to start bending the curve on climate change,” said CEO Regnery.

“We can bend the curve now by adopting policies that encourage businesses and consumers to transition to sustainable technologies, collaborating closely with governments, industry, and NGOs to make these technologies affordable and accessible, and most importantly not waiting.”

This post was sponsored by Trane Technologies. See our editorial guidelines for what this means.