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Sustainability and skills challenges dominate AREA 2025 strategy

European cooling association has updated its main strategy aims for the next six years, while also detailing longer-term opportunities for new forms of cooling business models

A need to balance increasing demand for cooling functions with more sustainable products and systems, as well as ensuring sufficient skills are introduced and retained across the industry, have been identified among AREA’s key objectives up to 2025.

The European organisation has set out four medium-term goals intended to address both the environmental and skills challenges facing the industry over the next six years as part of its Vision 2025 document. It has also outlined efforts to try and build awareness of the sector’s importance to the health and wellbeing of society.

Publication of the strategy follows on from the aims set out in the Vision 2020 strategy document published in 2014 by the organisation, which represents 25 national associations and 13,000 companies.

Alongside working to support more sustainable technical innovation and new business models in order to curb the sector’s overall environmental impacts, AREA has also set out aims to its push towards adoption of alternative lower GWP refrigerants.

The initiative would include stepping up efforts to tackle illegal trade that risks undermining current EU phasedown targets of higher GWP products, while also promoting mandatory certification of any gas used, according to the strategy document. AREA said it would also focus work on balancing work to curb greenhouse gas emissions with safety provisions.

AREA said these considerations would be ran in parallel with work to step up decarbonisation of the cooling sector and introducing a circular economy approach to tackle issues of waste and supply chain inefficiency.

The Vision 2025 documents also prioritises improving interest in working across the cooling sector and ensuring it provides a valuable and rewarding career, while retaining this industry expertise. This is expected to involve programmes that can highlight the technological opportunities for coders and engineers of different backgrounds in bringing their skills to the industry and building awareness of different types of career paths offered in cooling.

AREA said in the document, “Like many other industries, refrigeration and air conditioning contractors find it challenging to attract and retain new talents. Reasons are numerous, ranging from misperceptions to a lack of visibility of the sector and of understanding of its technological edge and societal purpose.”

The organisation said it was also committed to supporting a coherent framework of standards and regulation both at a national and regional level.

Longer-term aims

AREA has also set out several longer-term aims and trends expected to impact the industry towards 2030, including an anticipated reliance on smarter, web-connected technologies that can better determine and ensure optimal efficiency and personal comfort from a cooling system.

The organisation also said it expected a move away from the concept of owning equipment and appliances to instead renting cooling functions that can maintain temperatures in homes and offices from a refrigeration plant.

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