The Journal interviewed
Bjarnë W. Olesen,
ASHRAE President, on the sidelines of ASHRAE Developing Economies Conference in New Delhi. Here are some excerpts.
Journal: Why did you decide to hold this Conference in New Delhi?
Bjarnë Olesen: After the first Developing Economies Conference three years back in Manila, India was the logical choice as a significant developing economy.
J: Where do India and other developing economies figure in ASHRAE’s global strategy?
BO: In my presidential speech, there was considerable focus on the developing economies. There are serious issues with the indoor environment in these countries. Women and children are specially vulnerable due to cooking emissions at home. A lot can be done to help them. Another issue is the phase-out of high-GWP refrigerants. ASHRAE has joined UN Environment (UNe) to help the developing economies with transfer of low GWP refrigerant solutions. We have developed e-learning packages, tailored to these countries, along with UNe around the world; they will be available free of cost. We also offer ASHRAE membership at lower fees in these countries.
J: What role do you see the Indian HVAC&R industry playing in the international arena in the near and medium term future?
BO: There has been a steep increase in equipment production in India, with several manufacturers setting up production facilities here. India has the highest number of new buildings coming up. There is a growing market for HVAC&R, attracting companies from all over the world. India must learn from the experience of other countries and achieve energy efficiencies. It must not repeat the mistake committed by China in building energy guzzling buildings. 50% of the buildings that will exist in India 15 years from now are yet to be built, presenting the opportunity to design them as sustainable buildings. The challenge is to make them efficient, and architects must work together with engineers to achieve this.
J: What will be ASHRAE’s thrust areas in the next 2-3 years?
BO: The ASHRAE strategic plan 2014-19 focuses on residential buildings, against the earlier focus on commercial buildings. Since people spend most of their time at home, there is an opportunity to reduce energy use there. We are also looking at the global community, and exploring setting up offices in other parts of the world. We consider buildings as a part of a smart grid, and analyse what impact the grid has on the building and their occupants. We are also making sure that the industry has enough workforce – both engineers and technicians.
J: What is your message to ASHRAE India Chapter?
BO: My impression is that the Chapter is doing well. I would like them to continue having good relations with other players such as ISHRAE. ASHRAE can provide ISHRAE members better contacts globally. The India Chapter can be a two way conduit to disseminate information on India’s challenges to ASHRAE and on the latest technology to India.