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March 19, 2024

Trane Technologies Joins Scott Institute as Grand Challenge Partner to Study Scalable Potential for Electrifying Home Heating and Cooling

Kristen Whitlinger
  • Digital Communications Manager

In the United States, the burning of fossil fuels for heating, hot water, and cooking in the residential and commercial sectors account for 13 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. As the electricity grid gets cleaner, if natural gas and petroleum heating systems in homes and businesses were replaced with efficient electrical heating and cooling systems, the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from our homes and commercial facilities could drop dramatically.

Global climate innovator Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT) is working to advance clean, electric-powered climate control solutions that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in homes, buildings, industry, as part of its ambition to decarbonize the built environment and cold chain for a more sustainable world. The company’s vision strongly aligns with the ambition of Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation to accelerate decarbonization. 

The result: Trane Technologies is the first private sector company to join the Scott Institute’s new and growing family of Grand Challenge Partners – a select group of organizations with an ambitious decarbonization vision and goals for their operations, products, and global markets. The multi-year collaboration will study the maximum penetration of electrified residential heating and cooling systems that can be expected across the U.S., given existing distribution infrastructure and household electrical capabilities.

“Trane Technologies is at the vanguard in its efforts to transform global business models to advance deep decarbonization,” says Costa Samaras, director of the Scott Institute and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “We are fortunate to partner with them on this high potential opportunity to decarbonize the residential sector.”

“Accelerating decarbonization and dramatically reducing global greenhouse gas emissions means not only developing leading-edge solutions, but also understanding the impact of those technologies at scale,” said Ken Schoeneck, vice president of Engineering and Technology at Trane Technologies.  “We are honored to collaborate with the talented minds at the Carnegie Mellon Scott Institute for Energy Innovation to study the potential for electrified residential heating and cooling in a complex and increasingly electrified world. This important body of work will help us more effectively advance adoption of energy-efficient technology, creating more resilient communities and a more sustainable future for us all.”

Trane Technologies’ collaboration with the Scott Institute is the latest example of how the company is bringing its purpose of “challenging what’s possible for a sustainable world” to life. Through bold, industry-leading action and innovation, Trane Technologies is advancing its 2030 Sustainability Commitments, which include the Gigaton Challenge to reduce customer emissions by a billion metric tons – and its pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is first in its industry with near- and long-term emissions reduction targets externally validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

As we transition to sustainable energy systems, each of the Scott Institute’s Grand Challenges addresses a cross-disciplinary question that must be answered to advance deep decarbonization and resilience of our energy systems, drawing on expertise from science and engineering, infrastructure, policy design, and workforce and community engagement.

“The Grand Challenges represent a growing family of big, system-level questions facing energy systems that must be tackled to achieve our mid-century climate goals,” says Valerie Karplus, associate director of the Scott Institute and professor of Engineering and Public Policy.

Part of the challenge and promise of electrified residential heating is that today, these systems will not completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions because much of our electricity still comes from fossil fuels. However, as decarbonized sources of electricity become ubiquitous in line with national commitments, electrified residential heating will enable many regions to increasingly tap into electricity sources that emit little to no CO2, such as nuclear or renewable sources, like wind, solar, and even geothermal in some places. 

“Carnegie Mellon already has a very strong portfolio of energy systems research that spans our campus, from fundamental science to engineering to architecture to sustainable business to public policy,” says Karplus. “We are very fortunate to work with a visionary leader such as Trane Technologies to catalyze new thinking, cutting-edge research, and translation to practice –ultimately resulting in transformative impact.”

Grand Challenge Partnerships are part of the Scott Institute’s strategy to grow research in key areas on some of most challenge questions facing the net-zero, climate-resilient energy transition. 

Trane Technologies is the Scott Institute’s second Grand Challenge Partner.  The first Grand Challenge Partner are Yeming and Aaron Rankin, CMU alumni from the School of Computer Science, who established the Engineering Resilience for Climate Adaptation Fund in the Department of CMU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

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