Richard Luna is the new General Manager of ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales Oregon. He succeeds Keith Hawkins who has retired after 24 years at ACI. "This is an exciting time for ACI Oregon. Richard's experience in commercial HVAC and air distribution experience is unparalleled," said Keith Glasch, President and Principal at ACI.

solving problems for engineers

Richard has 35 years of commercial HVAC experience, including his most recent role as sales engineer at ACI

"Using my field experience, Mechanical Engineering degree, and market knowledge in Oregon is my main goal," said Luna. "I love solving problems for engineers and contractors; this is the perfect role for me."

Richard has 35 years of commercial HVAC experience, including his most recent role as sales engineer at ACI.  Richard also has deep family ties to the HVAC industry; his grandfather installed the HVAC system on the USS Nautilus, the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine. He has a BS Mechanical Engineering from Portland State University.

experience in commercial HVAC

His experience in commercial HVAC and air distribution with the firms American Heating and Arrow Mechanical as well as growing up working for his parents' HVAC business; where he developed his passion for working with sheet metal; ensures ACI's engineering and contracting customers will continue to deliver successful results.

Richard most recently worked on Kalama School District projects and the 4TH & Montgomery project at Portland State University to help solve airflow, noise and thermal comfort issues on each project. Richard will lead the Portland, OR location's team of 15 engineers, sales people, and finance experts toward future growth.

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HVAC Designated Among ‘Essential’ Workers During COVID-19 Response
HVAC Designated Among ‘Essential’ Workers During COVID-19 Response

HVAC industry employees are included among “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During the COVID-19 Response” as designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The guidance memorandum states: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security … you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” The edict comes from the DHS Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, whose goal is to provide a listing of essential workers to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities. The list also seeks to inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub-sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) workforce and customer protection guidance. Business As Usual For HVAC Employees HVAC industry employees are included among “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During the COVID-19 ResponseSeveral sections of the March 19 document are relevant to the HVAC marketplace. Specifically, the guidance memorandum singles out “employees of firms providing services that enable logistics operations, including cooling, storing, packaging and distributing products for wholesale or retail sale or use.” It also specifies “workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.” Under “information technology,” the document also mentions “data center operators, including …. HVAC and electrical engineers …” Furthermore, under an “Other” category, the document lists “workers to ensure continuity of building functions.” Vital Health and Safety Requirements A March 17 letter to “Federal, State and Local Officials” from a group of HVAC industry organizations made the case that their business is “essential.” As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, many states have targeted for closure non-essential businesses that typically involve crowdsThe letter reads: “While citizens are coping with a variety of unforeseen and unusual restrictions, it is essential that they are able to maintain their HVAC and commercial refrigeration equipment. Aside from providing comfort, this equipment is vital for health and safety in addition to productivity, particularly for air filtration and food and medical supply preservation, especially in this time of quarantine. When equipment fails, technicians must be able to repair or replace it as quickly as possible.” The letter continues: “Accordingly, as states and local jurisdictions consider their health crisis travel restriction plans, we respectfully request that HVACR technicians and engineers be considered essential businesses.” Representatives for the HVAC Industry The letter is signed by representatives of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), Air Movement & Control Association (AMCA), and North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Also signing are Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA), Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors (PHCC), Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), and American Association of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, many states have targeted for closure non-essential businesses that typically involve crowds.

HVAC Businesses Struggling from Jolt of COVID-19 Pandemic
HVAC Businesses Struggling from Jolt of COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is a human tragedy for thousands and is having a profound impact on the world economy, including the HVAC market. Many businesses are scrambling to survive even as they address the intense human element of the crisis. A survey by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) gathered insights on the effect the coronavirus pandemic is having on the HVAC industry. More than 70% of survey respondents expect the medical implications of the pandemic to last up to three months. (The survey closed out on March 18; 47 ACCA members participated.) Another 65% of respondents expect COVID-19 to translate into long-term business viability concerns; 9% are concerned their businesses may not survive. Implementing New Measures More than 70% of survey respondents expect the medical implications of the pandemic to last up to three monthsMeasures implemented among ACCA members to address the crisis include the addition of hand sanitizer, cancellation of large events, extra office cleanings and work-from-home programs. Among smaller companies, only about 10% of employees are working from home. Strategies include providing video consultations for homeowners. Technicians are urged to wash their hands both before entering a customer’s house and when they leave. Some 32% of respondents to the ACCA survey reported supply chain delays. Interestingly, nearly half of the ACCA members who participated in the survey say they don’t have a formal disaster plan in place. One concern among industry associations is that local governments will limit or stop HVAC inspections as a measure to help stem the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, lack of inspections could open the way for unqualified and unlicensed installers to take advantage of consumers during the crisis, when customers are rightly concerned about pollutants, bacteria and other harmful elements in the home. Protecting Consumers Several HVAC associations have written an open letter to organizations representing local governments to express concern about the situation. The letter states: Another 65% of respondents expect COVID-19 to translate into long-term business viability concerns; 9% are concerned their businesses may not survive“Local governments should be doing everything they can to protect consumers from health and safety consequences of nonexistent or improper installations. We are hopeful that all code officials and building inspectors continue to be leaders in their community and enforce local code and permitting regulations.” The letter is signed by presidents, CEOs and directors of ACCA, Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), Air Movement and Control International (AMCA), and Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). Also signing the letter is Thomas W. Jackson, CEO, Jackson Systems. Addressing Representatives  The letter is addressed to representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, American Association of Code Enforcement, National Association of Towns and Townships, and International Code Council.   The letter also states: “As an industry, we understand the unique circumstances that code officials and inspectors currently face, particularly with home and building owners who are concerned about coming into close contact with others. However, HVACR contractors continue to work in peoples’ homes and buildings every day, and in so doing, are implementing the appropriate protocols to ensure they can serve customers and simultaneously provide peace of mind.” China alerted the World Health Organization in December to several cases of an unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a port city of 11 million people in the central Hubei province. In January, officials identified a new virus as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold. It was named COVID-19 and has since spread to all of mainland China and throughout the world.

Addressing The Flammability Risks Of New Refrigerants
Addressing The Flammability Risks Of New Refrigerants

Refrigerants used in cooling systems for homes and businesses are being replaced with alternatives that have less potential for global warming. But the transition comes at a risk: Some of the new refrigerants are flammable.  Although less flammable than gases such as propane, for example, new refrigerants can still ignite and burn with a high intensity under ideal circumstances. The new materials have low-flame velocity and are less easily ignited; however, one byproduct of combustion is toxic hydrogen fluoride. Flammability risks of non-toxic refrigerants  Non-toxic refrigerants are categorized by flammability risks. A1 designates no flame propagation; A2 indicates lower flammability; and A3 indicates higher flammability. Hydrocarbons such as propane have higher flammability (A3) and are restricted to a lower charge limit that does not address refrigeration needs of large systems. Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) are mildly flammable, have a low flammability limit (LFL) and have been categorized as an A2L refrigerant. They tend to burn slowly and give off little heat. Hydrocarbons such as propane have higher flammability NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) offers online and instructor-led training to educate firefighters about flammability and toxicity risks associated with new refrigerants. The training also covers asphyxiation challenges, jet stream fires, transportation issues and other life-safety considerations associated with flammable refrigerants. The training covers how to adapt response tactics to mitigate consequences from refrigerants in various types of emergencies. Strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), personal protective equipment (PPE) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) protocols and decontamination practices are also covered. Categorising refrigerant flammability The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) provides funding to NFPA to develop training on the emerging technology. According to an ASHRAE report, refrigerant flammability can be characterized by three factors: Likelihood that a refrigerant leak would result in a concentration range that reaches the lower flammability limit; Presence of a sufficient energy ignition source; and Likely severity of a combustion event, and probability of a secondary fire. ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology Institute (AHRTI) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) are researching the flammability of refrigerants, including factors such as refrigerant charge size, release height, leak rate, humidity, and room size and temperature. When choosing the best refrigerants, it is likely a tradeoff will be required among global warming potential, flammability and efficiency. Codes and standards Codes and standards are being modified to address the use of new materials Currently, codes and standards are being modified to address the use of new materials, although risk mitigation concerns of the fire service have historically not been considered. One issue is the risk of using large amounts of flammable gas in a refrigeration system to cool a larger room. Additional safety measures are needed to make the risk acceptable. Detection of leaks is another issue, especially the need for repeated calibration of leak detectors to ensure accuracy. More than 200 countries will be ushering in the new class of refrigerants.

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