Climate Action

Scott Tew on how important technology and innovation will be in decarbonising buildings & transport

After the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021, Climate Action caught up with Scott Tew, Vice President, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Trane Technologies, to discuss how important technology and innovation will be in decarbonising buildings & transport.

  • 28 October 2021
  • Rachel Cooper

After the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021, Climate Action caught up with Scott Tew, Vice President, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Trane Technologies, to discuss how important technology and innovation will be in decarbonising buildings & transport.

Can you tell us how Trane Technologies is working to accelerate the net zero transition?

At Trane Technologies, we realized years ago that we had to take bold action on climate change.

Historically, our industry has been a significant source of emissions and energy usage. Fifteen percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to heating and cooling buildings. Another 10% of global emissions is related to food lost in transit or wasted after purchase. This means our industry has the potential to influence 25% of the share of global annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Trane Technologies’ 2030 Sustainability Commitments challenge and inspire us every day to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable future. Our Gigaton Challenge commitment pledges to cut our customers’ emissions by one gigaton by 2030 – this equates to about two percent of the world’s annual emissions.

We were also one of the earliest members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Race to Zero campaign with a validated Science-Based Target aligned to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have further pledged to reach net-zero emissions across all product lines by 2050 reinforcing the company’s position as a climate innovator.

Bold company-wide commitments, transformational innovation and creative partnerships is what will make significant impact and get us to a net-zero future.

As the leading supplier of heating, air conditioning and refrigerated transport, how are you leading emissions reductions in these sectors?

As mentioned earlier, our Gigaton Challenge requires transformational innovation. We’re accelerating clean technologies to directly address emissions at the source—developing new and better ways to heat and cool buildings, homes, and transportation. We’re pioneering technologies to increase energy efficiency and electrification, reduce food loss in the global cold chain, and transition out of the high-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.

How important will technology and innovations be in decarbonising buildings and refrigerated transport? What technologies are you utilising currently?

We’re always innovating at Trane Technologies. But the great thing is we don’t have to wait for new innovation to start bending the curve on climate change. Technology already exists today that significantly increases energy efficiency and reduces carbon emissions from buildings and refrigerated transportation.

For example - connected technology that automates buildings’ controls can optimize energy consumption during peak demand times and reduce the carbon intensity of the grid. We strongly support upgrading existing buildings as a system to maximize emissions reduction. Taking action and replacing inefficient equipment that relies on fossil fuels and high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants with heat pump and heat recovery technologies, while upgrading building controls, lighting, windows and sealing the thermal envelope can dramatically reduce direct and indirect emissions.

Our Thermo King brand is electrifying refrigeration systems and auxiliary power units for transport refrigeration, which is displacing fossil-fuel powered systems. We’re transitioning to low GWP refrigerants in the EU for truck and trailer transport refrigeration and will do the same in the United States in 2022, well ahead of regulations.

Again, the technology is already out there. We need to quickly increase the adoption and scale of these existing technologies while we continue to innovate for the future.

What changes have you seen in technology over the past decade, and what trends to you anticipate over the coming decades?

Buildings have become such a big focus for emissions reduction because they use so much energy.  The number of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that focus on building decarbonization under the Paris Agreement continues to climb. While new buildings have always been the focus, we are seeing more of an effort to bring existing buildings into the scope of work and rightfully so.  Most of the world’s building stock is already built and if we do not address their energy consumption, we are not likely to make a big enough dent in the overall emissions of the sector.

Do you think ambitions for emissions reductions are big enough at the moment? If not, what do you think needs to be done to increase ambitions and accelerate actions?

No! Governments need to increase ambition because there are technologies available today that can decarbonize the built environment that are not being adopted fast enough. Governments and cities should also lead by example. They have invested in new technology demonstration projects for decades and now is the time to accelerate that effort. Additionally, policies should incentivize the new technologies to make sure they are adopted.

From a business perspective - at Trane Technologies, we believe one company can change an industry, and one industry can change the world. Our company is challenging what’s possible by thinking bigger, acting bolder and taking action to create a better future. Progress is being made.  For example, in 2020, we reduced 7.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions from customers’ carbon footprint, equivalent to the annual output of 1,662 wind turbines.

Our sustainability commitments will help transform the built environment. They hold us accountable and they’re inspiring new innovation, technology and collaboration.

We know more needs to be done, yet we can’t do it alone.

There is an urgent need for bold climate leadership, and it’s going to take every company doing their part, taking responsibility. It will require industry and sector leaders within the built environment working with local city governments and world leaders – we all must do our part. 

Trane Technologies are speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021, to join them register here now.