Every successful project starts with a framework. A vision statement. A blueprint.
The editors of Engineered Systems are proud to present The Blueprint — a monthly Q&A interview with HVACR engineering’s leading voices. These one-on-one discussions will examine the trade’s history, current industry trends, the factors shaping the sector’s future, and more.
In May 2018, industry giants Ingersoll Rand and Trane announced they were forming a joint venture. The company, recognized as Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), provides innovative products, systems, and solutions capable of cooling and heating a broad range of applications from a home to a large commercial building. METUS is a marketer of comfort solutions and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) cooling and heating technology. Systems sold by the joint venture include a wide variety of technologically advanced products designed to deliver superior efficiency, comfort, and control for every home or building type.
Recently, Eric Dubin, senior director of utilities and performance construction, METUS, sat down with Engineered Systems editor-in-chief, Herb Woerpel, to discuss the electrification of the HVACR industry, the feasibility of 2030 carbon neutrality, what’s next for the company, and more.
Engineered Systems: Please introduce yourself to our readers and share a little bit about your role at Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US.
Dubin: My name is Eric Dubin, and I am the senior director of utilities and performance construction at Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US. I handle the development and deployment of our sales strategy and lead our work with electric utilities to create beneficial heat pump incentive programs.
Engineered Systems: CO2 emissions emitted from fossil fuels continue to threaten the ozone layer. METUS, and its parent companies, has been a proponent of decarbonization for many years. Can you share why the company is so passionate about this topic?
Dubin: We’re passionate because we recognize the dangers of climate change but also see the significant role Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US can play in decarbonization efforts. We research, develop, manufacture, and provide training for the all-electric heat pumps that are essential for decarbonizing the buildings where we live and work. We’re proud to create products that have wide applications for both residential and commercial buildings. Electrification can only be successful if everyone and every type of facility participate.
Engineered Systems: Through numerous white papers, articles, and webinars, METUS has touted the term “strategic electrification.” Can you share exactly what that term means?
Dubin: This term has been adopted industry-wide to encompass a set of solutions aimed at reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Through three steps, energy-efficient product development, renewable electricity generation, and the conversion of building heat and hot water to clean electricity, strategic electrification serves as the pathway to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to generate electricity.
Engineered Systems: METUS offers numerous products — several boasting inverter-driven compressors — designed to help in this area. Can you name a couple of them?
Dubin: METUS concentrates on making products designed to fit nearly all applications in the built environment, both retrofit and new construction. Our products include our CITY MULTI® Variable Refrigerant Flow systems, which can be air-source or water-source, as well as a diverse mix of wall-, ceiling-, and floor-mounted ductless units and ducted options, including low-profile horizontal and multi-position air handlers. With innovations like our Hyper-Heating INVERTER® technology, we’ve made it possible for our commercial and residential systems to keep occupants comfortable during extreme cold. This expands opportunities to apply our systems in Northern regions and creates opportunities to move away from natural gas and oil in colder climates.
Engineered Systems: Decarbonization is transitioning from an option to a necessity, as several municipalities, including Washington, D.C.; New York City; and others, are implementing regulatory policies designed to slash carbon emissions. Do you feel the same way, that decarbonization is transitioning from an option to a necessity?
Dubin: In the absence of formal federal action on climate change — including the Clean Power Plan and Paris Accord — cities, states, municipalities, and utilities are continuing to develop their own strategies to decarbonize. There are now more than 438 cities in the U.S. that have committed to 80% carbon reductions by 2050. You can visit www.climatemayors.org for more information. The goal is to achieve this through a variety of policy mandates, such as taxes, building codes, and portfolio standards. This is in addition to a healthy dose of voluntary programs that can include utility rebates and construction decisions, such as choosing a passive house design.
Engineered Systems: Federally, the 2030 challenge has ambitiously suggested that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral by 2030. This seems a bit lofty. Is it attainable? What are your thoughts?
Dubin: It may sound aggressive, but this type of thinking is what we need right now. We have a massive challenge in front of us. With a concerted strategy and policy support, it is possible for all new buildings and major renovations to be carbon neutral by 2030. However, actions to support this major shift in the way we construct our buildings must start now if we are to make this 2030 goal.
Engineered Systems: The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) pilot, which METUS is heavily involved in, is one of many organizations devoted to decarbonization endeavors locally and nationally. Can you share a little more about the organization and METUS’ involvement?
Dubin: The CNCA is just one of the many organizations that have rallied around the strategies that must be employed to reach carbon neutrality. CNCA is a collaboration of leading global cities working to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-100% by 2050 or sooner — some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets undertaken anywhere by any city. We’ve provided expertise and product knowledge to support CNCA efforts.
Engineered Systems: Our publication’s primary audience is consulting/specifying engineers and facility managers. Any words of advice for those who may be skeptical of an “electrified” future?
Dubin: An electrified future is not sacrificing. It means cleaner air, better comfort, and more efficiency. Many of the technologies that are being designed today by companies like Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US to electrify buildings are the most advanced HVAC products ever designed and manufactured, which should be an exciting new chapter for HVAC manufacturers and facility managers alike. For instance, because our VRF heat pump systems provide both cooling and heating, we’re able to simplify an engineer’s job by only having one system for them to design around as opposed to two separate units.
Engineered Systems: If we, as a nation, fail to act on decarbonization, what consequences could occur?
Dubin: There is a general scientific consensus on the likely environmental consequences, some of which are described in reports by organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But the reality is that many utilities, municipalities, and global cities are taking action right now or will in the near future. This means many of the engineers and facility managers who are Engineered Systems readers will need to understand how to meet the challenges of decarbonization and strategic electrification.
Engineered Systems: Any exciting endeavors going on at METUS in 2020 you’d like to relay to our audience?
Dubin: Mitsubishi Electric is developing some innovative new products that we’re excited to unveil throughout the year including new VRF and ductless models. We kicked off our year preparing for several large-scale, international events, including the International Builders Show and AHR Expo as well as local events where we have the opportunity to connect in-person with contractors, builders, architects, and engineers, training them to work with and become comfortable with our all-electric product lineup. We’re also continuing our research and development of products that have even broader application capabilities so that eventually our systems can be used to decarbonize any building type.