Beating climate change: What’s being done in our industry and the wider world
Climate change is at the forefront of our global political landscape, and for good reason: We have one world to live in, and it’s our duty to leave it in a good state for the generations that will follow us.
Today we’ll be describing recent developments and progress on this subject, with a brief round-up at the end of the article to summarise what key industry players – including Royale – are doing to help.
Hydrofluorocarbons: What they are, and why they matter
The entire world has its eye on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) usage now, and for good reason – it’s a significant contributing factor to our environment an ozone layer. Already, 197 countries across the world have agreed to scale back their use of HFCs in their various industries.
HFCs are, in some cases and depending on the specific type of HFC, archaic and more damaging to the environment than they need to be. Although HFCs are better for the environment than previous refrigerants, they are classified as greenhouse gases and do contribute to an extent to global warming.
Refrigerants: A global issue
Let’s take a supermarket as an example here - specifically, a supermarket’s use of refrigerant gases.
A typical system used in a supermarket – let’s look at America as an example – will store and use around 3,500lb of refrigerants. Sounds good. The problem? Although levels vary, it isn’t uncommon for the average system to have a 25% leakage rate.
The maths is somewhat simple from there. One store? Nearly 900lb of gases leaking from the store and dissipating into the atmosphere. In America alone, there are well over 230,000 stores that use such systems, resulting in over 200 million pounds of these gases leaking to the atmosphere.
As these gases are classified as dangerous to our environment – in America R22 Freon is known as an Ozone Depleting Substance – it’s important we do what we can, as soon as we can, to limit their use.
Air-conditioning: Heating and cooling in one challenge
Paradoxically, irresponsible efforts to cool ourselves are contributing to the heating of the planet! While air-conditioning units – particularly modern versions – are designed to be environmentally-friendly, the use of older HFCs and units is still prevalent en-masse, posing a problem for the world at large.
Interestingly, this is a challenge borne out of success. As many countries in the world are presently lifting themselves out of poverty and entering the global stage, amenities like AC units are seeing widespread purchasing and use.
These changes are often delayed in nature, meaning careful planning and forethought on a country-wide scale is needed. In many poorer countries in the world, for example, families who are climbing out of poverty will see their children secure jobs and careers that allow the purchase of systems like fridges and air-conditioning units.
In the case of a small village, this can cause a hike in energy demands as much as ten years after comprehensive electricity infrastructure is installed locally.
This poses a challenge for global leaders and key industry bodies to solve; this sudden surge in AC usage goes hand in hand with a lower quality of HFC and unit use, causing a challenge from two fronts for the environment.
The Kigali Agreement
Fortunately, key political successes including the Kigali Amendment are being passed and pursued on the global stage.
These will help force businesses to phase out the extensive use of damaging HFCs in favour of more environmentally suitable alternatives. Specifically, we’re seeing refrigerants R404a and R134a being removed and replaced – a major step that, if properly enforced, will drastically reduce the global environmental impact of refrigeration and AC units.
What else is being done?
Moving to electric: As climate change dominates headlines, major corporations are taking note. Many are – or have already been – moving away from more damaging natural gases and towards electric power.
Siemens and General Electric, for example, have identified electric power as the future of their businesses, and are winding down the production of key products such as gas turbines.
A cool challenge: Entrepreneurs and celebrities are getting involved. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has offered a three million Dollar prize to the world for the reinvention of the air conditioner.
A renewable revolution: 2018 was a mixed year for our climate, but you can bet there was great news in there too!
In particular, studies have indicated that last year saw the single largest increase in global renewable energy capacity in history. Key players like solar energy even outpaced additions to nuclear, coal and gas power put together.
What is Royale doing?
As an air-conditioning and refrigeration business, it’s our responsibility to get involved too. Here’s a little of how we’re doing it.
Equipment: We make sure to invest in refrigeration and AC products that use the latest technology. These invariably have lower energy consumption. Our HVAC systems, for instance, are much more ozone-friendly than older units.
Compliance: We’re up-to-date with legislation and UK laws on installation, maintenance, and working practices. These often relate to the environment and our impact on it.
Decommissioning: The Royale team offers a specialist decommissioning service that helps businesses ditch their old, inefficient systems. We then recycle up to 90% of these units, providing full notes of our activities as we go.
A shared future
Although this is an ongoing process with much more to be achieved in a short space of time, the Royale team remains optimistic on the subject and ready to do what we can in our own operations to help the cause.
By working together in politics, industry, and local life, we can halt and even reverse much of the damage caused to our environment.