By Guest Blogger Mikhail Tuknov
The chairman’s decision was actually quite timely, coinciding as it did with China’s looming energy crisis. The country’s economic boom also resulted in a significant spike in the demand for electricity, and China’s electrical grid was unable to cope. In answer to the problem, Zhang set about developing industrial air-conditioning units that ran on natural gas. Offering the benefits of lower power consumption, reduced costs, and more reliable performance, these air-conditioning units paved the way for the company’s direction for the next several years.
To this day, Zhang is actually still involved in the air-conditioner business. Again, these are no ordinary air-conditioning units, with the typical models being immense, barge-sized pieces of machinery. Even the company’s “micro chillers” weigh in at 6 tons, with the largest units registering a whopping 3,500 tons. This behemoth of a device can provide enough cooling power for an area measuring 5 million square feet.
The cooling technology employed by these units is nothing short of revolutionary. As impressive as it is however, the “absorption cooling” process used isn’t exactly new. These units rely on natural gas instead of electricity, and they basically convert gas to cooling liquid via a refrigerant compression process.
At present, Broad’s air-conditioning units can be found in more than 70 countries around the world, with many of them installed in large building complexes and airports. All these air-conditioning systems are constantly monitored from the company’s headquarters, allowing company technicians to detect problems almost immediately. When a Broad air-conditioning unit anywhere in any one of these countries goes haywire, Broad’s team of specialists will soon be on the case.
Zhang’s air-conditioning business enjoyed remarkable success for almost twenty years. However, two events caused him to reassess his priorities, and along with them, his company’s next move. The first event involved Zhang’s newfound course as an environmentalist, a realization that came gradually over a period of several years.
The second event was more significant: the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan Province in 2008. The earthquake caused several substandard buildings to collapse, and this significantly contributed to the tragically high 87,000 death toll.
In the wake of this disaster, Zhang set his sights on improving building design and addressing the problems that contributed to the earthquake’s high death toll. He started out offering a variety of retrofitting services to owners of existing buildings, but his efforts to improve things were largely ignored. Most people would take this rejection as a sign that they should quit, but not Zhang. Instead of packing it in, Zhang assembled a team of engineers and set about learning how to create affordable structures that could stand up to an earthquake. Among his other goals were to manufacture buildings that were cheap and environmentally friendly.
End Part 2
This article was written by Mikhail Tuknov of Hammers Construction. Hammers Construction is a commercial construction company in Colorado Springs with 25 years experience in commercial design and building.
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