Sustainability is more than energy-efficiency

Sustainability is an expansive matter. This section of our office guide will touch upon a few aspects closely related to todays' offices as well as to ventilation, heating and cooling. This section also offers a lot of further reading in guides, blogs and reference cases.

IEQ vs energy savings

We spend about 90% of our lives indoors. By the time we are 80 we have spent about 72 years inside. Knowing that, it seems nearly naive not to care for the indoor climate in the places where we spend time. If we also know that we are 16% more productive in a satisfying work environment and that our ability to think strategically is reliant on good air quality, it seems negligent not to require a good indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in all premises where we are expected to perform and thrive.

Having that said, it is important not to chase any easy energy save but rather to make choices for a sustainable and energy-efficienct operation of a building for many years to come, but without compromising IEQ.

A good indoor climate when people are in the office

Traditional offices are usually occupied for a number of hours per day, and a number of days per year. When the office is occupied, people are expected to perform and thrive, and there is consequently a clear need for a good indoor climate. When the office is empty, the basic requirement is to comply with legal requirements and keep the building from being destructed by weather or other external impacts. However, offices used in hybrid working models might see a varied pattern of people coming and going which creates a different demand.

Demand controlled ventilation (DCV) is a sensor and data driven technology for creating a good indoor climate in a room or building. Information in terms of temperature, CO2, humidity and more is gathered, interpreted and communicated to the HVAC solution for air flow, heating and cooling to be adjusted to the actual need inside the building. In terms of an office, energy is saved when the needs are met rather than when a preset standard is followed, and employees are cared for as they are offered a productive and comfortable indoor climate at all times.


Read our expert's blog about DCV

Learn more about demand controlled ventilation

A list of 4 recommended blogs

Understood from the above, it is essential to ensure a productive and comfortable indoor climate when people are in the office, but the need to heat and/or cool when no one is inside is nearly minimal. Unfortunately, numerous office buildings have HVAC solutions operating as if the building was crowded, as if traditional working hours still exist and, at times, by the means of out-dated technologies.

The four blogs below put forward both short- and longterm considerations for a better and more efficient operation of an HVAC solution, while favouring a good indoor climate for the people inside.

How to increase energy-efficiency of an air handling unit (AHU)

Can an existing CAV system be upgraded to VAV? 

Optimised water temperature gives lower energy consumption and higher perfomance?

The significant energy savings that hide in the gaps

Building certificates to meet sustainability targets

Coming back to the fact that sustainability is a multi-facetted subject in the HVAC-industry and recall what we said above, it is clear that people and planet are intwined and both need to be acknowledged when creating offices for success. Building certification standards may be one way to meet both the above as well as internal and external sustainability targets.

Focusing on the world known building certification standards of BREEAM, LEED and WELL, they are with separate approaches driving developments in energy efficiency and cost-savings, human health and well-being in relation to buildings and indoor environments. Not only can we support in a certification process, we can also offer a wide range of Swegon products and system to meet the requirements. In fact, many of our Swegon products and systems, not the least our systems for a demand controlled indoor climate, are key to meet the far-reaching sustainability targets of the above standards and to attain the higher levels of certification. 


Read more about Swegon and building certificates

See our reference case of the Entopia Building, UK

Prolonged operation and a solution made for adjustments

If the people perspective of sustainability is slightly put aside for a moment and more focus is spent on planet and profit. It then becomes relevant to consider available alternatives for proloning a products lifetime and adjusting an operation to be continuously optimised in relation to the most recent indoor climate requirements. 

With that angle of approach it is recommended to carefully chose products and systems for an HVAC solution that allow for cosiderable exchanges of parts and components. Also, as technology advances, units which may be digitally upgraded or adjusted ought to last longer than products that are produced for "here and now". 


Learn more in our next guide section

Visit our website on the topic of sustainability

Product choices for a better tomorrow

To be conscious about the manufacturing of, or the materials and substances in, products is another way to contribute to a better tomorrow. Product choices in the industry of ventilation, heating and cooling (HVAC) can with that in mind be crucial because a majority of the units are used for several years.

It is recommend to consider how suitable and applicable a selected product is to foreseeable, and plausible, future conditions. As an example, to choose a product which replace one or more units reliant on oil or natural gas, is good. Perhaps heat pumps are chosen in that process, possibly with natural refrigerants. If so, great measures have been taken for a sustainable future. 


See our blog post about the updated F-gas regulations

Learn more about natural refrigerants

Enter RE:3

The focal point of our work, as for many other companies and governmental bodies, has so far been to find ways to reduce the operational carbon footprint – in our case minimising the energy used for ventilation, heating and cooling in buildings.

However, we recognise a need and maturity to also address embodied carbon in a structured and organised way. Embodied carbon encompasses emissions from manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. All suppliers need to think differently going forward in order to reduce these emissions. At Swegon we gather pioneering alternatives to the standard way of working in our RE:3 concept, a concept of RE:duce, RE:use and RE:vitalise, some of which has in other words already been touched upon above.


Read more about RE:3 here

Energy efficiency is surely sustainability

Well-founded strategies and consistent work is vital to succeed with the investments in sustainability. However, it is important not to miss the opportunities in daily operations. For instance, to make adjustments of an existing solution for ventilation, heating and cooling (HVAC) can make a significant difference to the current energy consumption. Also, to be thorough in the design of HVAC solutions for new buildings can ensure minimal energy requirements for several years to come.

We have gathered a number of recommendations and considerations for increased energy efficiency in relation to ventilation, heating and cooling. All are found in our technical guide which can be accessed by clicking the button below.


Energy efficiency in relation to HVAC