Els Baert, Senior Manager at Daikin Europe’s Environmental Research Center, was awarded the title ‘Most Impactful Woman’ at the Eurovent Summit in Antalya, Turkey. A well-deserved recognition for her hard work and the influence she had in the past two decades within the European HVAC-R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) world.
As a fresh graduate in Chemical Engineering with a Master’s in Environmental Sanitation Els Baert landed at Daikin Europe, now 25 years ago. “Since the very beginning of my career, I have been working on energy performance and refrigerant safety,” explains Els. “First at our EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Product Development Center, and from 2006 onwards at Daikin Europe’s dedicated Environment Research Center.” Els’ position at Daikin Europe enabled her to take on distinct roles in standardisation and in working groups of associations such as Eurovent.
Bridge between industry and policy
Eurovent is a European association that gives a voice to more than 1.000 member manufacturers and federations active in the HVAC-R industry. As an established stakeholder it builds bridges across the HVAC-R industry and its associations, as well as with policy makers on a national, regional, and international level. Daikin Europe joined the association about 20 years ago, making it a long-standing member. Eurovent is an important partner in view of energy performance and refrigerant policies.
Paving the way for sustainable innovations
Over the past decades, Els supported important shifts in environmental policies, regulations, and standards, paving the way for innovative technologies. One of the key topics on Els’ agenda has been the development and introduction of the lower flammability (2L) classification for refrigerants in standards. The adoption of this new classification enabled the industry to use lower GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants such as R32.
Another important domain is the EU (European Union) Energy labelling and Ecodesign legislation. Ecodesign sets EU-wide standards for minimal energy efficiency manufacturers must meet, while energy labels provide consumers with a clear and simple indication of the energy efficiency of devices. At Daikin we find it important that products are rated in a proper way so that better technologies can show their benefits in terms of energy consumption. Furthermore, consumers should have access to well comparable energy labels, enabling them to make informed sustainable choices and to save on their energy bills. “To promote heat pumps, energy labels have to be shaped in such a way that heat pumps can be properly compared to conventional technologies for the same application, for example to fossil fuel boilers,” explains Els.
Most Impactful Woman
During the Eurovent Summit in Antalya, Turkey past October ten people were awarded the title ‘Legends of Eurovent’. In recognition of her devotion, commitment, and invaluable contribution to the European HVAC-R industry, Els was put in the spotlights as ‘Most Impactful Woman’.
“An absolute surprise,” concedes Els. “It also was the very first time Eurovent proclaimed these awards. I am very honoured and proud for this acknowledgement of the work we accomplished together. I think that one of my strengths is that I bring Daikin’s holistic view to the negotiation table, since we have a broad scope and a wide range of energy-efficient HVAC-R solutions. It is important for us to drive the market with more sustainable innovations and work to achieve a large-scale roll out of those innovations that benefit consumers and the environment alike.” That same comprehensive approach is adopted by Eurovent to find and put forward efficient compromises for the challenges the industry and society are confronted with.
An exciting job with impact
“I am lucky to work with a fantastic team. We facilitate the introduction of innovative technologies in policy landscapes in support of a more sustainable future” says Els. Something that she will continue to strive for. “We must keep on supporting comparable energy labels, directing consumers towards efficient heating and cooling equipment. This work continues in the many revisions of Ecodesign and Energy labelling regulations in all product ranges. But there is more. The HVAC-R industry has a significant impact on the sustainability of our building stock. Our work is never done, never boring and for sure important in the light of building a sustainable society,” continues Els. “Many topics are on our table, such as refrigerants, sustainable product regulation, credibility of data and so on. In Europe in particular, the REPowerEU plan creates many opportunities, and challenges. We work to contribute to the ambitions by proposing realistic and ambitious solutions on the road to a net zero society,” Els concludes.