You hear about it all the time. The excessive energy consumption in the modern world, and the impact this has on our planet. Suddenly, global warming isn’t some rare thing that only meteorologists talk about; on the contrary, it’s something that everyone can relate to. Nowadays, we all understand (well, except some billionaire presidents) that it’s an urgent matter for us to turn things around and reduce our consumption of natural resources.
Buildings have great potential for saving energy
Now, looking at the building and construction industry, we can see great potential for optimising energy use as well as indoor comfort. The building sector is the largest single energy consumer in Europe, absorbing 40% of final energy. About 75% of buildings are energy-inefficient, and part of the reason for this is poor ventilation tightness. One could argue that the ventilation industry is just a minor part of the problem, but nevertheless, we all have to play our part if we are to succeed in this energy transformation.
The money floods above your head
Leaking duct systems need to be compensated with an increased fan flow. This requires increasing the size of the unit’s components. All of this results in increased energy consumption, and hence increased costs and greater environmental impact than necessary. If you own a property, having ducts with poor air tightness is like blowing money away. It’s like a flood of money draining from the system above.
As an example, if you move from air tightness class A to class C in a 1,000 m2 office, you will save about 500 € on your energy bill annually. If you look at the bigger picture – according to the report 'Energy saving potential in Europe' – reducing duct leakage in European buildings by going from air tightness class A to class C could save 10 TWh annually. That´s comparable to three nuclear reactors! Today, the normal standards for ventilation duct systems are still air tightness class A or B. Raising the standards to class C, or even class D, would have a tremendous impact on both the environment and the economy in buildings.
Houston, we have a problem
It´s a well-known sentence, but it's relevant to our industry as well. Our problem is that, even if we do test and rate the performance of many products in a complete ventilation system, we can't be sure that the actual efficiency tested or measured will be valid for the user. One example is the heat exchangers. When tested and rated in the lab, these have approximately 90% efficiency. When the supplied energy is lost somewhere in the system, perhaps because of leaking ducts in the non-occupied zones, it won´t return to the heat exchanger, leaving the efficiency rate poor and the customers dissatisfied – that’s why I say “Houston, we have a problem.”
We need to stand together
At Lindab, we believe in doing good. As a company, we take great responsibility on several levels, but there’s always more that can be done, just as our entire industry could do more. It’s vital that European organisations such as TightVent continues to work for better tightness in ventilation systems. And we, as players in the ventilation industry, must support these initiatives. We need to collaborate worldwide to gain control over this unsustainable situation that we’ve put ourselves in.
Build a dam with tightness class D
We do want to contribute more, but at the same time, our feeling is that we can look ourselves in the mirror and say: “We’ve done some important work so far”. The chances are rather great that you’ve heard of Lindab Safe and Safe Click. These are duct systems with tightness class D – the highest standard there is. Our latest innovative product Lindab UltraLink, using ultrasound for measuring exact airflow, is another example of our efforts to support the 2020 EU climate targets.
Important as these inventions may be, they can only help increase the energy efficiency if we are prepared to change. It’s up to us, as an industry, to give up old habits for better, more sustainable ways of operating within a building.
Let´s build a dam together and stop money flooding out of your building into thin air, so that it can be used for a better purpose – that’s what I would call Good Thinking.
If you would like to hear more about why we need good ventilation and the effects ventilation has on indoor climate, health and productivity, we have a great report about it.