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  • The latest heat pump technologies increase application range, empowering electrification and decarbonization
  • Sophisticated digital platforms and smart technologies advance digitization, help optimize building performance and reach net zero goals

Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), the global leader for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, will highlight key trends facing the HVAC industry and solutions to meet evolving customer needs at the leading trade show for HVACR professionals, the AHR Expo, Jan. 22-24, 2024. To assist contractors and business owners in navigating the upcoming year, Johnson Controls will present innovative solutions that improve efficiency, promote electrification, advance digitization and ensure compliance with refrigerant regulations.

“The critical conversations taking place at this year’s conference will focus on the major transformations in our industry, driven by the demand for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings,” said Lei Schlitz, president, Global Products, Johnson Controls. “The most significant commitment any commercial or residential property can make is to incorporate more efficient and electrified systems into their building, all digitally connected for increased insight into system performance. This is more important than ever to address the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Greater Efficiency 

The HVAC industry’s focus on sustainability continues to grow. The speed of this growth is driven by multiple factors, including governmental energy efficiency regulations, corporate initiatives and an increasing number of environmentally conscious consumers.  In fact, according to a recent study by Johnson Controls and Forrester Consulting, one-third of respondents said they need to accelerate their efforts to meet pending net zero goals.

For homeowners, Johnson Controls offers numerous options for hybrid system including the YORK® YH5 15.2 SEER2 Single-Stage Heat Pump and Y92E 97% AFUE 2-stage furnace that allows homeowners to use the most efficient fuel source based on temperature conditions. As the primary heating and cooling source, the YH5 heat pump is optimized to meet 25C tax incentives through the IRA. During the few times a year when temperatures are too low for efficient electric heating, the Y92E furnace provides efficient backup heating and is also optimized to meet 25C eligibility requirements.

To help hyperscale data centers and improve cooling efficiency while maintaining uptime, Johnson Controls developed solutions that reduce energy consumption and total cost of ownership. Specified for the unique needs of mission-critical applications, the YORK YVAM Air-Cooled, Magnetic-Bearing Centrifugal Chiller is one of the most efficient options for data center cooling.

Widespread Electrification 

Electrification continues to gain momentum due to the acceleration toward decarbonization and the use of renewable energy sources. At the same time, incentives such as the IRA are making high-efficiency HVAC systems, including heat pumps, more accessible to a wider population. These factors are making it easier for contractors to talk to customers about new systems and get buy-in.

According to Schlitz, “Electrification is a critical pillar of decarbonization, and innovative heat pumps are essential to strategically electrify heating and cooling. Johnson Controls is at the forefront of evolving heat pump technology to push the limits of what is possible and reduce the use of inefficient backup sources even in the coldest climates.”

For example, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning will soon launch a new variable refrigerant flow (VRF) cold-climate heat pump. The air365 Max Heat Pump is designed to efficiently cool and heat buildings in cold climates down to -22°F for reduced energy costs year-round.

In partnership with the DOE Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains, Johnson Controls recently announced an initiative to accelerate the production of domestic heat pump manufacturing – including cold climate air source heat pumps – by expanding three of its U.S.-based factories. Combined, these facilities will be able to produce approximately 200,000 electric heat pumps per year. This substantial volume will help drive energy affordability and energy security, while helping combat climate change and creating new jobs.

Advanced Digitalization 

Homeowners and building managers are increasingly recognizing the advantages of integrating smart technology into building systems. In commercial buildings, operational technology (OT) systems, including chillers, BAS & Controls, video monitoring, and access control, as well as information technology (IT) systems and external sources such as weather forecasts and utilities, are seamlessly connected using Internet of Things (IoT) and secure cloud technology.

The suite of apps offered by Johnson Controls OpenBlue Enterprise Manager continuously monitors data streams, offering users informative dashboards that display system status and health. Leveraging AI, advanced analytics, digital twin technology, and insights from expert engineers, these apps provide valuable recommendations to customers to save energy, minimize costs, reduce carbon emissions, improve indoor air quality and enhance occupant comfort. The OpenBlue suite also incorporates predictive analytics and remote diagnostics, enabling system condition assessment, anticipation of service requirements, and accelerated troubleshooting. This proactive approach effectively mitigates failures, minimizes unplanned downtime, and prevents inconvenient – and costly – emergency repairs.

Verdantix, an independent industry analyst firm, recently recognized OpenBlue as a market-leading Energy Management Software. Additionally, OpenBlue’s strategic acquisitions, including FM Systems, a leading IWMS provider, further strengthen its ability to support customers on their path towards intelligent, sustainable, and healthy buildings.

Low-GWP Refrigerants 

The most significant phase to date of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which mandates an 85% reduction in hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases by 2036, went into effect at the beginning of January 2024. This phase reduces HFC production by an additional 30% (40% total reduction), directing the industry to transition to low-GWP refrigerants.

While Johnson Controls is helping industry professionals adapt to the refrigerant transition through its world class technical training and educational resources (on-line and in person), the company is adding product features that make working with these new low-GWP refrigerants even safer and easier to service. For instance, YORK commercial rooftop units utilizing R-454B refrigerant will offer a new refrigerant detection system (RDS) to detect refrigerant leaks within the unit cabinet. The RDS will be required by code in certain applications and optional in others, which will help customers understand when it is required. Johnson Controls has also developed a unique and innovative RDS Calculator tool that will be available in both the product selection tool and in the Ducted Systems Solutions App.

Johnson Controls has added additional ultra-low GWP refrigerant options to its applied products. For instance, the YORK YVWH Water-to-Water Dual Variable-Speed Screw Heat Pump was the first screw heat pump in North America to use R-1234ze refrigerant. R-1234ze has an ultra- low GWP of 1, which enables the YVWH to far exceed the EPA’s refrigerant regulations that go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2025.

To learn more, visit Johnson Controls at the AHR Expo at booths S6236 and S7529 or go to

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