Overview

Given the profound nature of the implications, the IEQ story for 2018 would have to begin in the tranquil shores of the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. In a high-profile move, Tesla, in the first quarter of 2017, deployed a 13MW solar power system, linked to a 13MW/52MWh Powerpack System, which came with the promise of powering up the island during daytime and, according to current estimates, up to 10pm. The project, for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), involves the use of approximately 55,000 solar panels and 272 Powerpack units to store the energy generated by the panels. Based on a power-purchase agreement with KIUC, the “solar energy shifting”, utility-scale project will serve over 30,000 customers in the island – Tesla would be selling generated and stored energy at 11 cents per kWh, which according to Tesla would be significantly cheaper than the cost of power that is generated through burning fossil fuels. According to estimates, at full throttle, the project would be instrumental in replacing the use of over two million gallons a year of diesel with clean energy.

A significant implication of the project is its clean nature, which opens very interesting possibilities, indeed. Among them, perhaps an answer to the question, ‘How do we balance the need for greater energy-efficiency with the demand for better indoor air quality?’

In 2016, during the 4th edition of the World IEQ Forum, in Dubai, delegates saw an interesting debate unfold on whether the pursuit of greater energy efficiency was at the cost of indoor air quality. Tighter insulation profiles and fewer fresh air changes, the IAQ camp argued, were putting paid to efforts to ensure healthier buildings. They called for many more fresh air changes than the number prescribed by ASHRAE, say. The counter-argument rode on the premise that fresh air changes would mean more energy usage, which would increase indirect emissions.

When viewed from that context, the Kauai Island project, if successfully scaled up across the globe, would deem the argument based on indirect emissions irrelevant. Clean energy, available round the clock without any disruption – or minimal disruption that is limited to non-peak hours – and, importantly, able to power the critical mass of HVACR equipment, including energy-intensive large-tonnage chillers – would be as close as we would ever get to energy-utopia and healthy air in the built-environment.

The 5th edition of the World IEQ Forum will keep Kauai as the centre-piece to discuss the possibility of a new world order, where IEQ is given the importance it truly deserves among policy-makers, consultants, building owners and equipment manufacturers, among others.


FORMAT

The Forum will follow the traditional format of a healthy mix of presentations and panel discussions, interspersed by structured audience involvement.