ENVIRONMENT AT THE FOREFRONT

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The new General Manager for Carrier Qatar, Nermeen Hammouda, has taken over the reins of the company at a crucial time – when the country pushing for a major overhaul towards environment-friendly cooling.

In the recent months, the government has mandated that all air conditioners sold in the country should hold a minimum of 3-star rating equivalent to Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 9. A decision three years in the making and massive cross-department coordination between the Committee for Standardisation and Measurements and the Ministry for Trade to regulate the import of ACs, the market had been given enough time to prepare. Last year, many retailers were seen disposing of their non-rated ACs for steep discounts. In the coming year, the government is going to improve the energy efficiency even further increasing up to a minimum rate of 11r. With cooling contributing to a huge chunk of energy needs, they are expecting good conservation results in the next 2-3 years when the whole market has had the time to adjust to these changes and benefit from the system.

Speaking about this new direction the country is taking, General Manager Nermeen Hammouda says, “Carrier in Qatar supports the new regulations. High efficiency products have a significant impact through decreased energy usage and a reduced impact on the environment.” Calling this a great opportunity for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, she continues, “Carrier has always placed efficiency as one of itshighest priorities, developing products that are high-performing while also being environmentally responsible. Just recently, we launched a new line of energy-efficient residential and light commercial HVAC systems specifically tested to Qatari regulatory standards. The new systems use the environmentally-balanced refrigerant Puron, which is non-ozone depleting, non-flammable and non-corrosive. Carrier in Qatarbelieves that working closely with regulators can help overcome challenges that may arise from new regulations. Our aim is to develop high efficiency products that are environmentally responsible.”

This focus is part of Carrier’s corporate DNA. Carrier is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security,a unit of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). In addition to its HVAC businesses, UTC operates a central research organization that pursues technologies to improve the performance, energy efficiency and cost of UTC products and processes. In 2016, UTC spent $3.7 billion on research and development, an investment that includes both company and customer-funded activities.

Hammouda says many countries have been steadily enhancing efficiency standards in response to enhanced technology trends and to help reduce the burden from increasing power tariffs. “Globally, Carrier has seen this trend building since the late 1990s. In the last five years, we have seen a significant increase in part load cooling technology in chillers, rooftops, splits and other HVAC equipment,” she says. The key to driving adoption for efficient products is in communicating to customers and key stakeholders the significant benefits of energy efficient systems, according to her. These include the payback on more efficient equipment and enhanced system controls via utility rebates and lower overall system maintenance costs; decreased energy bills; and decreased impact on the environment.

Geared towards Qatar

Carrier has been in Qatar since 1979, initially through distributors, and since 1999, through a joint venture. “Carrier operates in Qatar through United Technologies Building and Industrial Systems, a joint venture company with ENSRV. With our long history in Qatar and the strong future in plan for the country, we remain committed to our growth and operation across the country,” Hammouda says.

They have supplied many key projects across the state including major infrastructure developments, retail, hospitality, commercial and government projects.

However increasingly, traditional cooling technologies have to compete with emerging solutions like district cooling which seem to have high environmental-friendly credentials. District cooling plants are popular in Qatar and cater to large scale projects. Offering higher efficiency, district cooling plants can use a variety of chillers to cool small or large districts, which is emblematic of a push toward higher efficiency regulations and demand. “Even though there is increased demand for district cooling, Carrier is also pioneering energy efficient solutions across different product categories,” Hammouda says, elaborating the case of Carrier variable refrigerant flow, Carrier inverter units and smart homes.

Carrier VRF systems deliver high efficiency solutions (EER as high as 14). VRF systems are designed and manufactured to operate efficiently in the high ambient conditions of the Middle East and are tested for operation at 52°C. There are various types of indoor units that can be used depending on customer requirements which are in keeping with interiors of the space. Both the hi-wall inverter and VRF products contribute to energy and environment by using a non-hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant, which does not deplete the ozone, and surpass leading industry standards of minimum energy efficiency requirements. They also meet and surpass current mandatory regulations of GCC countries.

“Carrier in Qatar has already supplied VRF systems to luxury villa developments in Qatar, which now function at high levels of performance and efficiency,” Hammouda says.

Carrier inverter units can easily increase or decrease power to the compressor, ensuring they operate more efficiently and economically. “Conventional fixed-speed units operate at 100%, delivering a fixed volume of cooling which means the compressor has to stop and start to maintain the desired room temperature. An inverter air conditioning system varies the speed of the compressors, delivering precise cooling or heating, using a fraction of the power as required, making it more efficient.” Additionally, inverter hi-walls are up to 30% more efficient compared to similar capacity fixed speed system. And also pay back is fast – the additional investment done on an inverter hi-wall unit (vs. a fixed speed) is recovered within a year from energy savings. (Pay back calculation is based on a comparison of 1.5T Carrier hi-wall -Fixed speed vs Inverter)

Another interesting line up that Carrier offer in Qatar are intelligent Wi-Fi controls on many domestic Carrier products. “This is in line with multiple regional smart city initiatives and is part of a global push toward Internet of Things (IoT) appliances,” she says. The thermostat’s advanced software makes everything easy from initial setup, customizing and comfort schedules to connecting to one’s home network.

Moreover, it gives power to control features and functions remotely from a computer, tablet or smart phone. “At the office or on the road, you can alter your home’s heating and cooling settings for comfort upon arrival using your connected device. It also helps to save money on utility costs through programming design, smart recovery and energy use reporting. You can see when you’re spending the most on utility costs and tailor your settings to reduce your energy use. When you’re not home, this thermostat monitors your home’s energy use, your comfort preferences and the weather forecast to make intelligent decisions on efficiency and comfort for your return. In short, this smart thermostat is all about comfort,” she elaborates.

Women on top

Hammouda is a relatively rare entity in Qatar – a non-Qatari female executive. We are curious about how this affects her navigation of the region’s corporate landscape and what it took her to reach here. She credits Carrier for helping her grow professional and it’s encouraging to note that her presence here will give Carrier in Qatar more incentives to help women advance the corporate ladder.

“I love my job and have enjoyed working in this industry for most of my career. Carrier, I believe, is the perfect place for an ambitious woman to grow professionally. The company is pioneering many initiatives to increase participation of women in the workforce while also supporting them in their career growth. ‘Women for Growth’ is one such initiative that will launch in Qatar soon. The program aims to improve engagement and diversity within the company and help personal and professional development through workshops, personal development plans and social events organized throughout the year. Additionally, United Technologies recently joined the ‘Paradigm for Parity’ – a coalition of leading companies committed to closing the gender gap across all levels of corporate leadership,” she says.

We ask her what advice she has for mid-career women professionals and she says, “The advice I would give is to work hard, insist on success and most importantly, never give up. I don’t thinkto be successful in your career means it must negatively affect your family life. The key is to find balance in your life and remain determined.”