The importance of cooling in our daily lives cannot be overstated. From providing us with comfortable living spaces to ensuring the smooth functioning of essential infrastructure such as data centers and pharmaceutical manufacturing units, cooling technologies play a critical role in our modern society. However, the negative impact of these technologies on the environment cannot be ignored. With the cooling, heating, and lighting of buildings accounting for almost 28% of global CO2 emissions, it is imperative that we find sustainable solutions to reduce our carbon footprint.
It’s inspiring to see countries worldwide taking significant steps to address the impact of buildings on the environment. Singapore has made notable progress towards its goal of greening 80% of its buildings by 2030, with over 49% of its buildings already being greened. Meanwhile, Malaysia has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 45% of GDP by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, while India aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. Such ambitious targets demonstrate the willingness of these nations to prioritize sustainable practices and reduce their impact on the environment.
As we continue to build and create at an unprecedented rate, the demand for cooling is expected to skyrocket in the coming decades. Asia alone is expected to account for a significant portion of this demand, which is forecasted to triple in the next 30 years. In light of this, it’s crucial for building owners to prioritize smart and sustainable cooling solutions that support green building standards. By adopting these solutions, we can meet our cooling needs while also minimizing the impact on the environment.
Why traditional cooling systems are no longer a good cooling solution
The traditional model of cooling system procurement and installation involves high costs for building owners. Not only do they have to purchase the necessary equipment, but they also have to engage with consultants, contractors, and operators. The design and installation of the equipment come with high upfront costs, and ongoing maintenance and operational costs can be significant due to repairs and the declining efficiency of the system over time. As a result, building owners are seeking alternative models, such as Cooling-as-a-Service, to minimize these costs and improve the sustainability of their buildings.
One of the challenges of the traditional cooling system model is that there are multiple suppliers involved, and each supplier is only accountable for specific equipment. This means that no single supplier is responsible for the performance of the cooling system as a whole. As a result, it can be challenging to optimize the system for maximum efficiency and sustainability. Additionally, building owners are often hesitant to invest in measures that could improve the system’s sustainability, such as installing a new chiller plant system, because of the perceived high cost and long payback periods of five to 10 years.
A greener future with Cooling as a Service
The emergence of alternative business models, such as servitization, is providing building owners with more sustainable and cost-effective solutions for cooling system procurement and installation. Cooling as a Service (CaaS), for example, enables building owners to subscribe to air-conditioning services rather than purchasing, installing, and maintaining the cooling systems themselves. By subscribing to CaaS, building owners can unlock investments in efficient and cleaner technologies while also reducing their operational costs.
Cooling as a Service (CaaS) is a model that shifts the upfront investment and project performance risk from building owners to service providers. The service provider is responsible for selecting the most suitable technology to ensure sustainability and can adjust equipment allocation as needed to optimise resources. With CaaS, building owners can simply specify their desired temperature conditions, such as 23 C, and pay a fixed rate per Refrigerant Ton Hour (RTH) on a pay-as-you-use basis. This model allows building owners to reduce their financial risk while also benefiting from more sustainable and efficient cooling solutions.
Cooling as a Service (CaaS) differs from the traditional model in its emphasis on advanced technology such as big data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). With these tools, service providers can monitor and control the cooling system in real-time to maximise its efficiency and performance. This eliminates energy wastage and creates a more comfortable indoor environment that adapts to the changing conditions of the building. By prioritising technology, CaaS offers a more sustainable and cost-effective approach for a commercial cooling system.
Elpro Business Park & Elpro City Square in Pune, India, is an example of a mixed-use development that has implemented the CaaS model to provide sustainable cooling to its various buildings. The chiller plant that powers the cooling system runs on 100% solar energy and even produces a surplus of clean energy that can power over 200 Indian households per year. The system is monitored remotely in real-time using an advanced data tracking and analysis system with in-built controls and a fully automated optimisation tool.
INSEAD Asia campus in Singapore is leading the way in green buildings by receiving the Green Mark Platinum award from the Building and Construction Authority. This top award is given out to buildings that meet strict standards for sustainability and environmental responsibility. The campus has implemented a water-cooled chiller plant system under the CaaS model, which consistently performs at an optimal level. It achieves an impressive 25% better performance than the platinum standard of the BCA Green Mark criteria, resulting in a 4.8% savings in total building energy consumption. This award demonstrates the campus’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices.
Cooling is a major contributor to global electricity demand, accounting for 10% of consumption. By 2040, cooling is projected to be responsible for as much as 30% of ASEAN’s peak electricity demand. As cooling needs continue to grow, it is essential to implement clean and efficient cooling solutions to avoid a climate disaster and prevent a surge in electricity demand. By transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable cooling technologies, we can reduce our carbon footprint and ensure a greener time for generations to come.
Cooling-as-a-Service (CaaS) is poised to revolutionize how cooling is delivered to people, offering access to advanced and sustainable cooling solutions. With CaaS, people and businesses can enjoy the benefits of clean and efficient cooling systems without the upfront costs associated with traditional cooling solutions. By providing a more sustainable and cost-effective cooling option, CaaS promises to transform the cooling industry and improve access to cooling technologies worldwide.