The carbon emissions of HVAC systems in energy-intensive manufacturing industries are seen as a top priority by only 21% of UK senior management, despite accounting for up to 40% of a site’s energy consumption.

Research among facilities managers from across the life sciences, pharmaceutical and high-tech manufacturing sectors in the run-up to COP26, reveals that for 79% of companies, the primary HVAC concern for senior management is a system’s ability to deliver thermal comfort, low running costs or uninterrupted operation.

Worryingly, in the wake of a series of net zero pledges affirmed by both governments and manufacturers alike at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, 81% of those surveyed would class their site as efficient despite less than a third (31%) admitting to continuously monitoring a facility’s carbon emissions.  

Paul Walsh, General Manager EMEA at building analytics specialists CIM, which commissioned the research, commented: “Life science, pharmaceutical and hi-tec manufacturing are all notoriously energy-intensive sectors, with HVAC accounting for up to 40% of site’s overall utility consumption. However, due to the nature of the sector and its ultra-tight cleanroom controls, once the temperature, humidity and differential pressures have been validated, alterations are rarely made.

“Worryingly, this ‘set and forget’ mentality can easily pervade into all areas of a manufacturing facility, with settings having the potential to deviate significantly from the intended parameters over time. All of this leaves HVAC costs – and their associated carbon emissions – at best unregulated and, at worst, increasing to unnecessary levels.

He continues: “Despite a collective willingness at board level for manufacturers to take proactive action around sustainability, it remains a concern to see the carbon emissions of energy-intensive HVAC systems – which in reality, represent the real low-hanging fruit – deprioritised to the extent they currently are.

“The solution lies not in extensive capital investment or the diversification of energy sources, but in better use of Building Management System (BMS) data, especially in non-validated areas of a plant. Identifying and rectifying inefficiencies here can make significant inroads into reversing the over delivery of energy, and play a tangible role in wider industrial decarbonisation strategies.”

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