Different sectors have been impacted in different ways. Businesses went online. Mass homeworking impacted the office sector, as well as shopping, entertainment, news, and banking. This benefitted online platforms, software suppliers and data centres.
The pandemic put intense focus on the healthcare sector, particularly hospitals which benefitted from additional investment.
However, transport, and in particularly airports, have suffered during the last year as has the hospitality sector, stores, and shopping malls due to enforced lockdowns and social distancing rules.
The longer-term impact remains to be seen, but there is no doubt some of the changes are here to stay, including redevelopment of malls and outlets, combining online offerings with physical stores, and the focus on health & wellness. On the office side, we expect there to be more focus on refits and refurbishment when owners and tenants review their need for office space and potential repurposing of available areas.
The focus on wellness and health & safety will be high on the agenda, which is likely to increase focus on digital/non touch technology to get people back into commercial buildings. We expect to see an increase in several areas which can all be linked and co-ordinated by a smart building management system:
- Improving the flow of air and the quality of air.
- Integrating booking systems so that ventilation can be improved and cleaned periodically.
- Software and sensors to measure space utilisation and potentially alert when people are not socially distancing.
- Checking people’s temperature as they enter certain areas – as a possible warning of any illness.
Lone also provided insight into the latest protocols, uptake of wireless technologies and key wellness standards from IWBI and Fitwel to encourage more emphasis on wellness in buildings and SPIRE aimed at SMART buildings.
Saziye Dickson, Research manager of VAC&R, completed the presentation with insight into the global air conditioning market. Saziye also gave insight into our latest studies on US commercial and industrial refrigeration, and our global compressor study.
Cooling and ventilation is high on the agenda following the pandemic and impact of global warming.
Like other HVAC segments, different products and regions have been impacted differently. The biggest global market, Asia Pacific, was hit early by the pandemic, but China is already on route to recovery. The pandemic has pushed more emphasis on smart units and increase in sales and ventilation and focus on high spec filters across the key Asian markets, including Japan. However, the region’s commercial segment has suffered due to loss of tourism. Recovery is happening, but at a slow pace.
The Americas is the second biggest region for AC and of course particularly driven by the US market. Like other markets, the Latin American markets have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the residential market in the US did well as many households have been increasing their savings and focusing on investment in refurbishment of their homes. This meant the splits market across the region was up in 2020. However, the light commercial markets were hit the hardest and the steady double-digit growth for VRF we have seen in the US was hit hard, with the market remaining fairly flat in 2020. The chiller /airside market in the region was also down.
Due to the ongoing restrictions; the key European HVAC exhibitions are also going digital, including ISH in March. BSRIA would normally provide insight into the European HVAC & Smart trends at this show, but instead will be arranging a webinar in April. Bookings will be available through our website in March on www.bsria.com/uk/