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The Future of Energy Discussed at Conference

July 18, 2011
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Gordon Holness, past president of the ASHRAE, addresses the 2011 HVAC Excellence National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference.

A group of nearly 550 individuals packed the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas for the 2011 HVAC Excellence National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference (NHETC).

The NHETC is an annual event dedicated to providing continuing education for HVACR educators and trainers. The train-the-trainer boot camp had over 70 sessions to attend, and an equal number of exhibitor tables to visit. Sessions covered new and changing technologies, changes in federal legislation, energy efficiency, best practices, training techniques that work, and green and sustainable technologies.

Gordon Holness, P.E., past president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), was the keynote speaker and talked about working together in the face of increasing energy demands when he addressed the conference.

“We have significant environmental and energy challenges ahead of us in this country. We seek to deal with the issues of increased demand, a decrease in supply, and the environmental impact. All that changes the way we do business in the HVACR industry,” Holness said. “I believe that energy efficiency in existing buildings is our greatest opportunity for a sustainable future.”

Holness pointed out that the cost of oil was $3 a barrel in 1976 and, at the time of his speech, it was $110 a barrel. He predicted it would be close to $200 a barrel within the next two years. He pointed out it was developing countries that are making this demand and not necessarily the United States.

“Overall, with a combination of population growth and energy demand, the resources around the world will be stretched to the limit,” Holness said.

In the United States, we rely heavily on imported oil for transportation. In 1975, when President Nixon said the United States should be independent of foreign oil, the country imported 30 percent of its oil. In 2005, the United States was importing 70 percent of its oil.

“Where will our energy come from in the next 20 years? Don’t count on ethanol. I don’t think that has a future. I think the opportunity comes from buildings becoming efficient,” Holness said. “We will have a 120 percent growth in CO2 in the next 20 years.”

At this point coal is the dominate energy source, and Holness does not see that changing. Coal accounts for 49 percent, natural gas 20 percent, nuclear 19 percent, and renewable 2.4 percent.

“Nuclear is almost 20 percent and has been for 35 or more years. When listening to the campaign rhetoric of the last presidential election, they were both promising to build 30-35 nuclear power plants. With what happened in Japan, I think nuclear power in this country is still a long way off.

“Wind and solar seem to have great promise, but it is just 2.4 percent of the energy in the country. At best, despite promises, the highest number I heard was 7 percent. So this is not a solution. We need to find other solutions for our energy demand.”

WHAT IT WILL TAKE

That is why Holness is promoting making our current buildings more efficient as a way to help solve the energy crisis. Holness said it would take five action items to have buildings become more efficient:

• More uniformly applied and enforced building codes;

• Higher energy costs;

• Peak load shaving and demand control;

• Possible carbon tax; and

• Move beyond certificates of occupancy towards active regulations of building energy use.

“Increasing this issue will not be technical, nor will it be political or even economical. It will be cultural,” Holness said.

The speaker shared some interesting facts with the instructors that drove home the point including the fact that 80 percent of all buildings that will exist in the year 2030 already exist today and that 40 percent of our primary energy use comes from buildings.

“In my mind, the United States has to lead the way in this effort,” Holness said.

Publication date: 07/18/2011

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