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 Climate Change

Published on: Feb. 14, 2020, 4:04 p.m.
India is one of the first countries to establish a national cooling plan
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By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

India’s own Mahindra group is one of the leaders in the ongoing battle to cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by increasingly switching to renewable energy. The initiative to introduce climate-friendly cooling systems takes on the challenge launched by The Climate Group, an international non-profit organisation, in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy.

With India as a nation having taken the leadership in establishing a national cooling plan, other corporate majors in the race to introduce energy efficiency in cooling include a slew of Godrej group companies, Infosys Technologies, Tata Motors and Dalmia Cement. The Railways ministry, too, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to foster green initiatives, with nearly 100 of its buildings and other units having already received ‘green’ certification.

Big names in manufacturing, hospitality and retail from India and the Middle East were among the first to sign up for the initiative, reflecting increasing demand for cooling in emerging economies especially as the impacts of climate change take hold. Dubai-based retailer Majid Al Futtaim, which owns and operates shopping malls and leisure establishments and UltraTech Cement are among the other signatories, while buildings technology and solutions major Johnson Controls is also leading by example on efficient cooling across its own operations.

All the signatories are already committed to smarter energy use as part of EP100, a global initiative led by The Climate Group and the Alliance to Save Energy. Under this challenge, they aim to progress more quickly towards their energy productivity goals and benefit from greater economic output per unit of energy consumed. Says Helen Clarkson, chief executive officer, The Climate Group: “This is about preparing your business for the future.” 

EP100 brings together a growing group of energy-smart companies committed to doing more with less to improve their energy productivity. By integrating energy efficiency into business strategy, these leading companies are driving tech innovation and increasing competitiveness while delivering on emission reduction goals – inspiring others to follow their lead.

The 15-year-old Climate Group’s mission is to accelerate climate action to achieve a world of no more than 1.5°C of global warming and greater prosperity for all. It does this by bringing together powerful networks of business and governments that shift global markets and policies, focusing on the greatest global opportunities for change, taking innovation and solutions to scale, and building ambition and pace.

The Alliance to Save Energy, founded in 1977, is a non-profit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders working to expand the economy while using less energy. Its mission is to promote energy productivity worldwide – including through energy efficiency – to achieve a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security, affordability and reliability.

With electricity demand from air-conditioners alone set to more than triple by 2050 and equal China’s total electricity consumption if left unchecked, as predicted by The International Energy Agency (IEA), companies have an immediate opportunity to invest in energy-efficient cooling that will lessen further climate impact and generate substantial financial savings, Clarkson points out.

The Climate Week NYC 2019 from 23 to 29 September highlights the efforts of companies that are working to lower their CO2 emissions while boosting their bottom lines and improving overall competitiveness. At Heating & Cooling – The Next Frontier, an event for this conference, The Climate Group is exploring how leading companies are finding innovative solutions on cooling. Climate Week NYC, run by The Climate Group in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York, is the biggest such event in the world. It is the place for individuals, businesses, governments and the community to come together to learn, to debate, and to take climate action.

As Pradeep Bhargava, chairman of CII’s GreenCo rating initiative, says, “Nobody is doing anyone a favour by going green – it is probably good for business!” Green practices are no longer an extra discipline but an integral part of business acumen, he says, pointing out that opportunities to increase competitiveness by going green and improving resource efficiency are widespread and far-reaching.

Cooling challenge GreenCo evaluates the performance of companies on the ecological front in a holistic manner and guides them to make their products, services, operations and supply chain greener. Even as of four years ago, 47 companies were already GreenCo rated and more than 110 were at different levels of execution of the rating system. “It is encouraging to see the environmental benefits and monetary benefits reported by the companies,” Bhargava adds.

With farm equipment and vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra conducting trials of the latest cooling technologies with the aim of replacing its old equipment to reduce the biggest part of its energy use, which is from cooling in office blocks, its new plant in Chakan, near Pune, is fitted with the latest available in cooling technology. According to Anirban Ghosh, chief sustainability officer, Mahindra group, cost savings while contributing to lower emissions is an ideal approach. “That’s why we’re proud to be one of the first companies to sign up to the EP100 Cooling Challenge,” he says. “We expect to save 30 per cent on our annual running costs after we install the energy-efficient cooling systems – so it will pay for itself in a few years.”

At Majid Al Futtaim, where cooling accounts for around 40 per cent of utility bills for its shopping malls and entertainment venues in the Middle East and North Africa, measures being taken include improving controls to better sequence chillers and operate pumps and cooling towers, matching cooling schedules with operation schedules, and recovering condensate in shopping malls to feed into cooling towers. The company is also digitalising its energy use to monitor the efficiency of its cooling systems.

“Our commitment to becoming net positive in carbon and water by 2040 is the core of our environmental sustainability agenda,” says its chief sustainability officer Ibrahim Al Zu’bi. “To reach this goal, we are investing heavily in optimising the efficiency of our cooling systems through innovations, behavioural change and constant measuring of our impact to ensure minimal greenhouse gas emissions.”

Back in India, three of four Godrej companies – Godrej Industries, Godrej Consumer Products and Godrej Agrovet – are signing up for the EP100 Cooling Challenge. These companies have more than 90 manufacturing plants and offices in India and overseas, many of which are large and use significant amounts of energy for refrigeration and air-conditioning. Having already introduced measures to improve the energy efficiency of their cooling systems, including replacing chillers and monitoring direct and indirect emissions, the trio will now look to improve cold-chain logistics, storage and air-conditioning in commercial spaces. They also plan to invest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

Nadir Godrej, managing director of Godrej Industries and chairman and non-executive director of Godrej Agrovet, says, “The efficiency of our cooling systems directly impacts on the quality of our products. By taking on this challenge, we want to reaffirm our commitment towards climate change mitigation and bring a greater and more immediate focus on increasing efficiencies across our refrigeration and air-conditioning usage.” Energy efficiency, he adds, generally gives excellent returns: even a small reduction in energy use translates to financial benefits and savings of CO2. His assertion that “we believe in optimisation rather than sacrifice” chimes with GreenCo’s mission statement.


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