Articles by Larry Anderson
HARDI, an organization of wholesale distributors in the HVACR market, is curating and publishing videos on various aspects of the industry. Heating, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) has launched HARDI Hub, a platform with educational and informative videos that allow viewers to learn something new. As the Hub evolves, the hope is to see an increased contribution of content from members, allowing them to be able to teach their peers information they are the expert in. Video types include interviews, webinars, full conference sessions, and more. HARDI is also working with Supplier/Manufacturer and Service Vendor members to provide educational videos about their products and services, educating viewers about how to successfully use the product, or the benefits of implementing it into their business. These videos will be chosen similarly to their proven vendor program, verified by HARDI. Educating the HVACR market HARDI has full access to all aspects of the HVACR industry, says Emily Frost, Content Manager. “We can easily find out what is important to our members and then create or source the resources to provide the education and knowledge they are looking for.” The addition of Tim Fisher, Team Leader of Market Intelligence; and Brian Loftus, Market Research and Benchmarking Analyst, positions HARDI to create the content members are asking for.The video hub has content that anyone in business can use to grow their skills HARDI’s primary audience is HVACR Wholesaler Distributors. However, the video hub has content that anyone in business can use to grow their skills, says Frost. “While we are HVACR-focused, there are many skills and qualities that transfer over into general business needs.” For example, the video “Perfect Your Facebook Marketing Strategy” with Antoine Dupont covers a topic that anyone can learn from and use to grow their business skillset. There are also Government Affairs videos with content that directly relates to HVACR Distribution, such as the "HFC Phasedown" video, discussing how the introduction of new refrigerants will affect members’ businesses. HARDI Hub videos come from a trusted source, and the association seeks to provide valuable content that will help members succeed Trusted source of information “Our members have always asked for a library of resources, and video is increasingly becoming the method of choice for how people wish to view content,” says Frost. “The industry needs a collective place they can go, to get reliable information they can use to grow their skills and their businesses.” HARDI Hub videos come from a trusted source, and the association seeks to provide valuable content that will help members succeed, resulting in increased awareness of wholesale distribution as a whole.Anyone can submit a video proposal to HARDI Currently, content providers include HARDI staff, industry experts from councils, and members or partners who are experts in a specific field. Anyone can submit a video proposal to HARDI, which will work together to determine if it is something valuable that members want to engage with. Videos from HVACR experts Currently, there are feature videos from Jason Bader, a known HVACR industry expert; Alan Beaulieu, a world-renowned Economist; and Alex Ayers, HARDI’s Government Affairs expert. The councils source experts in their designated fields to provide general content on topics such as Sales, Marketing, HR, and Supply Chain, or more industry-specific, like the Controls Council and their webinar on controls distribution.HARDI Hub is also frequently featured on social media pages when new videos are published To find HARDI Hub, members can go to the website, hardinet.org, and click the HARDI Hub tab at the top right of the screen in the menu bar. HARDI Hub is also frequently featured on social media pages when new videos are published. “We have also included videos in our association newsletters like the Thermostatus and Data Driven Newsletter (DDN) to reference content that relates to the featured article and in our blog,” says Frost. “Videos can be embedded on other websites, allowing the video contributor to share the video on their website. There are social media share buttons on each video as well, allowing anyone to share a video to their page. We also encourage members to subscribe to HARDI Hub, so they get an email notification when new content is published.”
Annexair unveiled a new line of more sustainable and eco-friendly HVAC systems during AHR Expo in Orlando. The company displayed the new units, made from biosourced engineered composite panels, in a parking lot that was a short drive from the Orange County Convention Center. Composites are 50 to 60% lighter and five times stronger than metal. The engineered composite panels have reinforced glass fiber. Annexair combines the composite panels with green foam insulation made from recycled water bottles and glued together using a non-chemical adhesive resin derived from sugar cane. Performance of the 100% eco-friendly foam surpasses any other type of insulation, says the company. Insulated composite panels are available in 1-in, 2-in, 3-in, 4-in and 5-in thicknesses and take the place of structural steel in Annexair’s new generation of HVAC equipment. There is a lifetime warranty against corrosion and zero leakage. The company claims it is "the most advanced, sustainable and eco-friendly HVAC system on earth.” Eco-Friendly HVAC System “We are making a major transition to modernize the industry and make it more eco-friendly,” said François Lemieux, Annexair President, at a reception during AHR Expo. The biocomposite unit took nine years to develop and is the world’s first of its kind, he says. Manufacturing processes, such as using between 30 and 40 million recycled water bottles, will help to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.Some 26,500 recycled plastic bottles are used in manufacturing the ERUs Some 26,500 recycled plastic bottles are used in manufacturing the energy recovery units (ERUs), and 18,000 bottles are used to manufacture the makeup air units (MAUs). The systems are built inside a composite housing using motors and other components from other manufacturers. A rooftop unit with a built-in gutter system uses airport-style doors, and there are drain pans and easy walk-in access. There is no welded steel. Panels are seamless, no matter the unit size; panels can be made up to 12-feet wide and 45-feet long in a single piece. "We are making a major transition to modernize the industry and make it more eco-friendly" Easy cleaning and impoved lifespan Smooth rounded interior corners and edges ensure hygiene and no dirt accumulation for easy cleaning. FDA-approved anti-microbial/UV nanotechnology improves casing durability and lifespan for the inside and outside casing, including anti-fungal, chemical resistance, water repellence and anti-scratching.Annexair intends to sell the systems at the same price as comparable traditional systems Annexair intends to sell the systems at the same price as comparable traditional systems to guarantee better access to green technology for the industry. The system is more durable, does not rust and is very light for building structures and transportation. Construction is 50-60% lighter. It also reduces energy loss and is fire-resistant. Composite casings Use of composite casings reduces the greenhouse gas produced by 85 percent. Annexair intends to stop assembling metal-based ventilation units by December of 2021 to meet business sustainability targets. The system is a perfect complement to LEED certification, says Lemieux. The systems will be manufactured in a new 300,000-sq ft factory, 70 miles east of Montreal, Canada, that is automated and eco-friendly. Annexair seeks to be carbon-neutral by 2024-25.
There was plenty to see and appreciate at AHR Expo in Orlando. And there is good news to report: Innovation is alive and well in the HVAC market. Some new products on display demonstrated genuine ingenuity. Exhibitors had enthusiasm to spare as they shared what’s new in the market with this first-time visitor to the show. HVAC is not a new market, but it is changing and, in some regards, re-inventing itself. The vibrancy, variety and sheer size of AHR Expo showed off the newest and best the industry has to offer. ‘Better Way to Heat and Cool’ Electronics highlighted the benefits of inverter systems -- "a better way to heat and cool" -- at their press event at AHR Expo. Despite the advantages, HVAC contractors are pushing back at the new, less familiar systems. The industry is at a "crossroads." Inverter systems have variable-frequency drives that control the speed of the compressor motor, enabling lower power consumption – operating at a partial load as Innovation is alive and well in the HVAC marketLG opposed to a full load. For example, an inverter system may use only 20 amps compared to 90 amps for traditional systems. The systems are quieter, too. There are also now inverter systems for ducted systems – "the space in between that nobody is talking about". New "hydro kits" can also extend the benefits of the systems, providing radiant floor heat or the ability to melt snow from a driveway. LG Electronics also introduced a new line of IP-based controls, aimed at the 97% of commercial buildings that are 100,000 square feet or less, many of which don't have building automation systems. The controller can be used in lieu of integrating with third party systems, which can add costs. They also are introducing predictive analytics that can consider multiple conditions over time and then predict things that may happen, such as maintenance requirements. The company also emphasized the benefit of LG as part of a range of products the company provides for the home, from OLED televisions to appliances to robotic vacuum cleaners. There is an opportunity for all the devices to be connected to an LG panel and "drive the experience." Monitoring Indoor Air Quality Airthings was a new exhibitor at AHR Expo, located off the beaten path among the high-numbered booths. Even so, the company had a great show with “enormous interest,” said Oyvind Birkenes, CEO. Airthings has an indoor air quality monitoring system, with a battery-operated, wireless sensor as the main component. There Some new products on display demonstrated genuine ingenuityare actually seven sensors inside the device, monitoring radon gas, CO2 level, temperature, humidity, VOC levels, pressure and ambient light. The device can be easily mounted on the wall and provides data every 5 minutes, which is sent to the cloud to be analyzed. The cloud system provides an overview of data, which is customizable. Users can set notification levels and/or download air quality reports. The system can also be integrated with building management systems (BMS) or other dashboard displays. A hub can manage up to 50 of the sensors for larger systems, in effect, a fully independent local network. Birkenes said the device provides a “disruptive” upsell opportunity for various platforms. Cooling Towers Making a Comeback A new era of cooling towers includes products that are modular and built on a smaller scale for tighter locations, says Neal Walsh, HVAC Business Manager, Baltimore Aircoil Company. “We’re turning the concept of cooling towers on its head,” said Walsh. The new concept leverages the energy efficiency advantages of cooling towers, while opening new applications to the technology. The modules of the product can be put in place by a forklift, and it is less than half the size of a traditional cooling tower. Up to six of the devices can be installed in A new era of cooling towers includes products that are modular and built on a smaller scale for tighter locationsa row with a control panel. Low water usage enables the system to be flushed and refilled once a day – no expensive water treatment needed. In all, it is less expensive to install and maintain, and could be installed inside a building, on a roof or anywhere there is space. The product is popular with school districts, which seek to avoid refrigerants. The new design is driving a “resurgence in popularity” in the market, said Walsh. Plastic Pipes with Easy Waterproof Sealing Uponor displayed pipe systems made of PEXA (cross-linked polyethylene) plastic, featuring “crosslinking thermal memory.” The pipe returns to its original shape when heated. It is available in ½-in. to 4-in diameters for residential or commercial installations. A special tool can be used to expand the pipe to accept a fitting, and then the pipe returns to its original shape when heated to create a water-tight seal without glue or solvents. The pipes can be used for radiant heating applications, and Uponor offers “roll-out” mats (pre-assembled configurations of pipes) for easy installation. Through a partnership with a Serbian company, the company also now offers polypropylene pipe for larger applications. There was plenty to see and appreciate at AHR Expo in Orlando SPVU Systems with Greater Efficiency Bard offers “single-package vertical units” for commercial applications in space-confined systems, whether the application is equipment cooling or “creature Many products demonstrated at AHR are also big in the education marketcomfort,” said Paul Quigley, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. The factory-sealed systems ensure greater durability for mission-critical applications, such as telecommunications, data centers, etc. Bard’s products are also big in the education market (especially portable classrooms). Their line has been completely redesigned and reconfigured by Bard’s engineers; they have replaced nine major product families (and 10 million product iterations) with just two categories. The new models meet the Department of Energy’s 11EER minimum energy conservation standards for Single Package Vertical Unit (SPVU) air conditioners and heat pumps – a 22 percent increase in efficiency. They can also remove 35% more humidity than other units. The new systems use recycled denim for insulation (instead of fiberglass). Leveraging the Benefits of UV-C UV Resources highlighted the use of UV-C spectrum light for HVAC applications. They have a germicidal lamp system that uses UV-C to penetrate the HVAC coil to eliminate microbial buildup. It keeps coil surfaces, drain pans, air filters and ducts free of organic buildup and works better than pressure washing or chemical treatment. The company also displayed a germicidal UV fixture that can be wall-mounted at 7 feet or higher in a room. Special louvers direct “germicidal irradiation” at an upward and outward angle and create a zone of UV-C to kill germs and minimizes the dosage in the lower area of the room. It's useful in doctors’ offices, public buildings, etc. LG Components’ New Compressor LG Components launched a new product – a fusion compressor (hybrid) that merges the best of rotary systems and of scroll technology. Durability-improving innovations include a more sensitive vacuum prevention device and a stronger, stress-tested discharge reed valve that withstands the harsh operating conditions posed by refrigeration applications and limits excessive sound levels. It is compatible with multiple refrigerants, including R-404A, R-507, R-407A, R-407C, R-448A and R-449A; the compressor has a capacity range of 1-6 HP Catch up on our Day One Review here. or our Day Two Review here.
What is the cost of “rolling a truck” to service an HVAC system, and how can you maximize the efficiency of such a call while minimizing the cost? On the second day of AHR Expo in Orlando, several companies mentioned the benefits of various diagnostic and analytics systems that can be accessed remotely and that provide information for a technician about the nature of a problem, and what parts are needed, before he or she leaves for the call. It’s an example of how technology can make life easier for HVAC companies. Technology can help HVAC companies in other ways, too. For example, AHR Expo exhibitor Jobber offers software to help small businesses, including HVAC companies, to be more successful. The company focuses on providing software for various home and field services industries — there are more than 50 of them in all. The software is designed for any small- to medium-sized company, from a sole proprietor up to a company with 50 employees. The cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) offering can be accessed through a web app or a mobile phone. Implementing Technology Several companies mentioned the benefits of various diagnostic and analytics systems that can be accessed remotely and that provide informationWhen a service request is received, whether by phone or over the internet, the Jobber software “takes over” and guides the process through quoting to scheduling to dispatching crews to invoicing and collecting payment. "The HVAC market is in the early adopter stage for implementing the technology, and demand is increasing", says Shawn Cadeau, Jobber’s Chief Revenue Officer. Jobber currently focuses on the North American market and is available in English only. Monthly fees start at $29, and a larger system might cost up to $249 per month. Some of the equipment on display at AHR Expo is also designed with contractors in mind. Rheem is announcing more models in its Renaissance line of light commercial products designed to be installed on the Carrier footprint. The equipment is designed for the contractor. Rheem brings contractors into the design process, so the “service mentality” that helps contractors do their jobs is included in the design. Minimizing Energy Consumption Heat Transfer Products Group (HTPG), the refrigeration business of Rheem, is showing off their EcoNet-enabled controller that minimizes energy consumption in critical cooling applications by monitoring the compressor to eliminate excessive runtime. One trend is away from mechanical components and toward more One trend is away from mechanical components and toward more electronicselectronics. For example, an electronic expansion valve provides more control and eliminates the need for mechanical thermal expansion valves.“People are excited about electronic control solutions,” said Raleigh Thompson, HTPG Marketing Manager. For medium and large-size systems, HTPG will launch new platforms in April, in anticipation of new Department of Energy efficiency standards. Daikin announced the Rebel Applied Packaged Rooftop System that combines high performance and a compact, configurable footprint. It features a casing design for ultra-low air leakage, which can save thousands per year, and Copeland ZPKZ scroll compressors. Reducing Costs and Staying Ahead Emerson makes the compressors, designed for superior part load efficiency and to reduce customer costs. Technology innovations of the compressor include a new hermetic motor, a scroll discharging value to optimize performance and oil-injection to mitigate heat. The Daikin Rebel system far exceeds minimum efficiency requirements through 2023. Emerson also highlighted the Sensi smart thermostat, the Multiple Thermostat Manager for property-wide comfort control, and the Sensi Predict 10-sensor system that analyzes the HVAC and displays how the system is performing so technicians can stay ahead before failure occurs. Detailed monthly performance summaries are provided, and real-time alerts are generated in the event of system of decline or failure — more information to help HVAC contractors. Missed our Day One review? Catch up here.
Technologies such as machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) are taking their place alongside more traditional products at AHR Expo in Orlando this week. Performance of the industry’s historic product mix continues to improve from the standpoint of efficiency and sustainability, and elements of the industry’s “digitization” are making it even better. The “smart building” has finally arrived in earnest. “Our world is changing,” said Jenny Stentz, Area Vice President, Building Solutions, North America, for Johnson Controls. “Our customers are talking about it everywhere we go. They are demanding more control over the environment they occupy, and that is driving change.” Collaborating With Customers For Efficient Solutions In the case of Johnson Controls, the changes are being implemented in the context of a collaborative relationship with customers; in effect, they are working Changes are being implemented in the context of a collaborative relationship with customerstogether with customers in the co-development of solutions that deploy the latest technologies. The massive amount of data available from today’s systems, when analyzed using new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools, yields opportunities for more efficient systems for customers. Johnson Controls offered a panel discussion on “Changing Customer Demands” to kick off the AHR Expo. The deployment of “digital assets” alongside JCI’s product mix can have a practical impact on energy usage, saving in the range of 20 to 40% of the costs of operating a system, says the company. “Together, they drive the outcomes our customers are looking for,” said George Oliver, Johnson Controls’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Oliver added: “We try to put the customer at the center of all that we do. We try to understand the questions and be ahead of the curve.” Pushing The Digital Message JCI is continuing to invest to improve its product mix — in the range of $650 to $700 million in the last year. Investments include development of a state-of-the-art facility in Norman, Okla. There is also a training center, and the company continues to invest in the Navigator platform. “We have truly focused on being a products company, which really focuses our investment,” said Mike Ellis, Executive Vice President, Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Johnson Controls. “It all depends on our ability to leverage what is right in front of us.” JCI positions itself as a “pure-play” buildings company that is IoT-aware. There were other companies pushing a digital message on the first day of AHR Expo, too. For example, Delta showcased a comprehensive suite of building automation technologies built around the theme “Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities.” Their booth showcased the ability to improve operating efficiency and reduce energy usage by combining various Delta products, including building automation solutions from Delta Controls Inc. and LOYTEC. Panasonic highlighted new technologies, including a system that suppresses pollutants and odors using nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles. Delta’s O3 Sensor Hub combines multiple temperature and occupancy inputs with audio and detection accuracy enhanced by machine learning to provide more precise temperature reading and better control of other systems. Digital-era Machine Learning Armstrong Fluid Technology highlighted Active Performance Management based on digital-era machine learning. The system optimizes the operation of equipment and makes recommendations about how operators can make the equipment work even better. The system operates on three levels. First, the Design Envelope intelligent devices (such as pumps and booster systems) send alerts and warnings about operation. Second, a systems optimization level considers data from a number of devices together; third, all the data is brought up into the cloud. The suite of solutions ensures that equipment runs at optimal condition. It prevents performance drift; furthermore, from population learning, the system improves the performance of a building over time. The system continues to learn by analyzing data from the population of assets connected to the cloud, including the large installed base of Design Envelope products. Exciting New Product Innovations Panasonic is highlighting the ClimaPure XE wall-mounted heat pump for cold climates. The ductless system features “nanoeX,” a built-in air and surface purification There were many companies pushing a digital message on the first day of AHR Expotechnology that reduces pollutants and odors. Nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles are rich in hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which are effective at suppressing pollutants and odors. Friedrich highlighted the VRP Variable Refrigerant Packaged Heat Pumps, which provide VRF performance with single package simplicity. The “VRF in a box” solves more design problems than complex systems like VRF and 4-pipe systems. The product offers best-in-class cooling performance, super-efficient heating, true humidity control, and conditioned fresh air to help building owners achieve ASHRAE 62.1 compliance for commercial buildings and 62.2 compliance for residential buildings. Bradford White is showing the AeroTherm Series Heat Pump Water Heater that provides hot water more efficiently using technology to transfer heat from the air into the tank. The yearly energy savings is around $304 versus an electric tank. The pump can quickly pay for itself. Read our review of Day Two of the show here.
Around 1,900 exhibitors display the latest HVACR products and services at the AHR Expo 2020, Feb. 3-5, in Orlando. Show organizers are expecting a great turnout, judging by pre-registration activities. The 500,000-square-foot exhibition, billed as “The World’s Largest HVACR Marketplace,” includes well-known HVACR brands such as Emerson, Samsung, Johnson Controls, Daikin and Mitsubishi Electric. “The show is unique in that it is the gathering place for professionals from across all roles that make up the HVACR industry,” says Mark Stevens, Show Manager. “Not only do you have the opportunity to see what’s new in terms of product and technologies (in some cases being revealed at the show), but the show also offers a strong education program, guidance from industry leaders, networking, access to product designers, company representatives, etc., as well as best practice information and more. There is really something for everyone.” Visitors From Around The Globe Although the majority of attendees come from the United States, there are also visitors from 165 countries worldwide, including the Pacific Rim, Europe and South America. Commercial, institutional and industrial markets are dominant, but there are also residential-focused attendees. Manufacturers and distributors are in attendance, as are contractors/dealers, engineers and others allied to the field. Some 72% of attendees have a role in purchasing; and senior management, engineer/architect, and marketing/sales are the top job functions represented. There are also visitors from 165 countries worldwide, including the Pacific Rim, Europe and South America ASHRAE members who register for the concurrent ASHRAE Winter Conference (Feb. 1-5 in Orlando) can attend the AHR Expo at no charge. More than 3,000 buildings-related engineers, architects, contractors, students and other industry professionals attend the ASHRAE Winter Conference, which includes technical sessions, education, committee meetings and social events. “Every year exhibitors bring their latest developments to the AHR Expo show floor, which really makes each year a new experience,” says Stevens. “New exhibitors joining the show bring their tech and solutions to the floor.” AHR Expo has continued to grow during its 90-year history Education Sessions, Podcasts and Awards The AHR Expo Innovation Awards honor the most inventive and original products, systems and technologies showcased each year. "There were more Innovation Awards entries this year than ever before", says Stevens. There is a full slate of education sessions on Sunday through Tuesday (Feb. 2-4). “We’ve added an AHR Expo Expert Council over the course of the year to speak to The AHR Expo Innovation Awards honor the most inventive and original products, systems and technologies showcased each yearsome of the trends impacting the industry, and they’ll be joining our Education Program,” says Stevens. Additionally, there will be a Podcast Pavilion, where some of the industry’s most popular podcasts will record. A Building Automation & Control Showcase and Software Center are available on the show floor plan. Because the AHR Expo can be overwhelming, show organizers suggest attendees use the “MyShow Planner” app to log in and put exhibitor appointments and education sessions on their agenda. They can then access it at the show. Over The Past 90 Years AHR Expo has continued to grow during its 90-year history. This show has continued to develop with the HVACR industry, which is vital in today’s world. “The dedication to delivering the latest advancements, new products and technologies, and education has always been at the forefront of the show,” says Stevens. “We have grown to be able to provide a platform for manufacturers to meet and interact with industry professionals and showcase their solutions. Likewise, all roles can come together to view solutions that help grow their businesses, relationships and knowledge.”
The HVAC industry has more eventual jobs to fill from among recent high school graduates than there are people to hire. One problem is that high school graduates often don’t consider a technical trade as a viable career path. Perhaps influenced by school counselors, parents or even peer groups, many students single-mindedly pursue a four-year college degree (whether or not their academic history supports such a decision). Many young folks miss the opportunity to create a more direct path to prosperity – and a better life – through a career in the trades. StrataTech's Survey One reason high-school graduates don’t pursue trade careers is a lack of awareness, according to a survey by StrataTech Education Group, which operates several skilled-trade institutions, including The Refrigeration School Inc. The company conducted the study to explore attitudes and beliefs about trade schools and skilled trade careers among young Americans and their parents. 33% of survey respondents don’t know about available options The most common reason high school students don’t consider a trade school is that they don’t know the options available. According to the StrataTech study, 33% of survey respondents don’t know about available options. Other barriers to trade school cited by respondents are expense (30%), lack of confidence in their ability to perform a skilled trade (26%), and pressure from the community to attend a 4-year university (23%). Slightly more than half of students surveyed (51%) said they considered attending a trade school. CEO of StrataTech Speaks Out There is no one-size-fits-all path to success for high school graduates Mary Kelly, president and CEO of StrataTech Education Group, says there is no one-size-fits-all path to success for high school graduates. “For decades, students believed a 4-year degree is necessary to succeed in life, but we believe differently. We are optimistic this research show perceptions are shifting and there are opportunities to strengthen pathways to skilled trade opportunities.” One challenge is that high schools tend to push the idea of college over trade school. In the survey, only 32% of respondents reported that their high school promotes trade school education as a potential path (compared to 73% promoting 4-year universities and 45% promoting 2-year college programs). Parental objection does not seem to be an obstacle to a student choosing to attend a trade school. Among parents in the survey, 93% said they would support their child’s choice to pursue a career in skilled trades. Specifically, 62% said they would provide emotional support, 57% would provide major financial support, and 47% would offer limited financial support, such as letting the child continue to live at home while pursuing a skilled trade certification. A majority of survey respondents see trade or vocational schools as just as “credible” as traditional college – 82% of responding parents and 73% of students. The survey included 1,000 high school students and 1,000 parents of high school students across the United States. Addressing The Shortage Many students who sought a 4-year degree have been disappointed by their job prospects Addressing the skilled worker shortage in the HVAC industry will require approaches on multiple fronts, and directing high school graduates toward technical trade careers is an important element of the broader effort. Many students who sought a 4-year degree have been disappointed by their job prospects after they graduate. Pursuing a technical trade career, such as HVAC, provides a more direct path between high school graduation and an independent life built around a successful career. HVAC professionals can play a role in communicating with today’s youth about the value of their work, their job satisfaction, and the better life available with a well-paying job. Encouragement can go a long way to overcome any lack of confidence among young people about their ability to perform a skilled trade. As the StrataTech survey results suggest, there is a solid foundation to build on and an opportunity to attract more young people to the trades. The future of our industry depends on it.
Trade jobs in general are really struggling to find talented individuals interested in the opportunities. The “dark and dangerous” stigma needs to start being overturned, and people need to realize the great success that can be found in industries like HVACR. That’s why HARDI, Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International, is working on a workforce recruitment initiative that includes a video project to highlight different people with different backgrounds working in different roles in the HVACR industry. Different people with different backgrounds working in different roles in the HVACR industry The Video project “HARDI has access to a lot of success stories and can find great examples of people that have worked hard and built themselves great careers,” says Chris DeBoer, HARDI Director of Marketing and Sales. “It is our duty to help our members, and this is one of the ways we feel we can give back to them.” That’s why they are developing the “Hot Commodity” video project. “The goal was not to make [the video] specific to one type of person but open it up to show that no matter the experience or background there are opportunities available,” says DeBoer. The Hot Commodity video highlights diversity among the characters but also the roles and companies out there hiring as well. A shorter version of the film can be used by HARDI members or others attending a career fair, going on a school visit, sharing on social media, etc. No matter the experience or background there are opportunities available" An HVAC Documentary A longer version of the film is still being worked on. It is meant to be a full-length documentary one might see on Netflix, Amazon, etc. “People are more willing to watch things that are informative as long as they entertain,” says DeBoer. The goal is to entertain while also spreading awareness. He points to films such as “An Inconvenient Truth,” which sparked the climate change conversation; and “Supersize Me” that changed millions of people’s perspective on fast food. “The hope is that we can start changing perspectives about the industry and the great success that is obtainable should someone choose this as a career path,” DeBoer notes. “The full film is for people to self-discover more so than the short film, where there is already a reason to share.” The 8-minute short version of “Hot Commodity” is available on the “HARDI Hub” website. The Development of the full film We are hoping to get it shared enough to get some buzz and get it on streaming platforms" “The full film is currently getting some final touches and we are hoping to get it shared enough to get some buzz and get it on streaming platforms,” says DeBoer. “Final details on distribution are still being worked on.” The greatest hope would be to get the longer film on streaming platforms and to educate more of the masses about the industry. “It would be great for members to work with us on a grassroots effort, but I also think we need to think broader about reaching people in areas where members might not be proactive with spreading the news,” says DeBoer. There may be additional videos still in the works. “There has been some discussion around developing a series of shorter films around each of the individual characters to create a mini-series to be used in different recruitment efforts,” says DeBoer. "I think this could be a way to really target certain people based on specific situations.”
Smart homes are a key focus at CES 2020, the world’s largest technology event, January 7-10 in Las Vegas. The giant show features more than 170,000 attendees, 4,500 exhibitors and 1,100 industry thought-leaders featured on the CES stage. A range of technologies will be on display, from artificial intelligence (AI) to 5G, vehicle technology to AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality), robotics to home automation. smart home environment The role of intelligent HVAC systems in the smart home will be featured at the show, and the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on HVAC systems (among other technologies) will be prominent. HVAC is an element that provides measurable value in the smart home environment. The Nest intelligent thermostat is almost a decade old. In the years since its introduction, HVAC has become even more intrinsically integrated into the intelligent home. “Market players are looking to expand beyond established smart home devices like smart thermostats and networked cameras to products like smart water leak detectors, smart pet feeders, and smart air purifiers,” says Elizabeth Parks, President, Parks Associates. Electronic door lock approach The Resideo T-Series smart thermostats support wireless Smart Room Sensors “For the smart home market at CES this year, we expect to see numerous announcements regarding home awareness,” says Blake Kozak, Senior Principal Analyst at IHS Markit. “The impact of this [event] for the smart home could be about delivering home analytics and enhancing privacy through cloudless architectures and new electronic door lock approaches,” he adds. An example of home analytics is the Resideo Home app, introduced in December, which will make whole-home monitoring possible for four critical networks of the home – water, air, energy and security. Resideo promises a “simplified and integrated smart home experience.” The Resideo T-Series smart thermostats support wireless Smart Room Sensors to balance and prioritize temperatures in the home. air management controller Daikin North America will be showing the Daikin One+ smart thermostat, an intelligent home air management controller. Beyond a typical smart thermostat, it is a controller for a full professional HVAC system with a growing ecosystem of air quality modules to give consumers more control over the air they breathe and a premium HVAC experience. OxiCool is launching HomeCool, a clean and resilient AC technology. It is designed to provide clean and silent air-conditioning for the home. The product can be configured to operate off solar thermal, natural gas, propane or electricity. It uses no harmful refrigerant and only four natural elements—earth, water, fire and air. The clean technology uses molecular sieves in vacuum-sealed units made from stainless steel and uses zero GWP water as its refrigerant. unified solution to consumers “Consumers who already own smart home products are buying more devices,” says Parks. “A key issue to address though is the lack of purchases occurring with the non-owners of these devices. Despite purchase intentions being high, consumers are not making the purchase to move adoption of products. After 10 years of being in the market, smart thermostats still only have about 11-13% adoption rate in the U.S." "In 2020, we will see companies working to provide a unified solution to consumers through professional installation and also continue to see the single-point solution pushed to get consumers in the door with a single product and expand from there.”
ASHRAE and NIST have pledged to strengthen their partnership focusing on key issues in the HVAC market. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizes the agreement and sets the stage for continued cooperation for the benefit of the HVAC marketplace. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, is a global professional society committed to advancing the arts and sciences of heating ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and related fields. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness to enhance economic security and quality of life. Scientific Knowledge Combines With HVAC Equipment Promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness to enhance economic security and quality of life NIST’s HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group seeks to expand scientific knowledge and improve the energy efficiency of HVAC equipment. Their research activities encompass analytical and experimental studies of new-generation refrigerants, experimental and simulation investigations of space-conditioning systems in current and net-zero energy buildings, and research of cooling/refrigeration technologies. The agreement, signed Nov. 4, outlines how ASHRAE and NIST will work cooperatively to improve HVAC&R technologies and their applications. New cooperative efforts between ASHRAE and NIST will focus on several key areas: Improving building performance and cost effectiveness, including through increases in energy and water efficiency and storage technologies, and the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants; Improving interoperability of building systems as well as building integration with the electric grid; Supporting innovation and standards development; Strengthening resiliency of the built environment; and Bolstering cybersecurity of HVAC&R infrastructure. The Memo of Understanding was signed by ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce and Dr. Walter G. Copan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director. “The missions of ASHRAE and NIST reflect our collective efforts to advance building performance and support integrated solutions to improve health and productivity in buildings,” says Boyce. “NIST staff have long been involved with ASHRAE through participation in the development of standards, serving on numerous technical committees and sharing many of their research results in ASHRAE publications. We are excited to formalize our partnership with NIST as we strive to collectively build a more sustainable future and enhance the wellbeing of building occupants in the communities we serve.” Mutual Interests Improve the performance, resilience, sustainability and cybersecurity of the built environment “This [understanding] confirms the many areas of mutual interest between NIST and ASHRAE as we work to advance energy-efficient technologies and improve indoor environments,” said Copan. “We look forward to working with our ASHRAE colleagues to promote public-private partnerships and technology transfer to improve the performance, resilience, sustainability and cybersecurity of the built environment.” Current projects of the NIST HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group include characterization of the performance of potential novel refrigerants. The group is developing test and predictive methods for characterizing flammability of mildly flammable single-component refrigerants and blends. The best-known contributions of the group relate to the research of environmentally acceptable refrigerants, development of advanced simulation tools, and formulation of the SEER and HSPF performance descriptors for the test procedures of residential air conditioners and heat pumps.
Could lack of ventilation impact the performance of students in the classroom? A study of ventilation and other HVAC issues in California classrooms raises the issue. According to the study by the University of California-Davis and the Berkeley National Laboratory, nearly 85 percent of HVAC systems recently installed in California K-12 schools do not provide adequate ventilation. Nearly 85 percent of HVAC systems recently installed in California K-12 schools do not provide adequate ventilation Students and teachers in improperly ventilated classrooms may be exposed to unhealthy levels of CO2 and volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, given off from building materials and furniture. CO2 levels increase as students and teacher breathe out. The Study The study visited 10 classrooms at 11 schools during the 2016-2017 school year. The classrooms had been recently retrofitted with new HVAC units under the state’s Clean Energy Jobs Act program. Across 94 classrooms with valid data, average carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations indicate the classrooms were under-ventilated. Inadequate ventilation was found in classrooms at all grade levels. Field inspections identified problems with HVAC equipment, fan control and/or filter maintenance problems in 51% of classrooms. The study included 63 rooftop units (RTUs) and 41 wall-mount HVAC systems (used primarily in portable classrooms). Classrooms in the sample were also frequently too warm to support learning Classrooms in the sample were also frequently too warm to support learning: There were 23 out of 103 classrooms that had air temperature above 25.6°C (78°F) for more than 20% of school hours. Sixty percent were warmer than the recommended average maximum temperature of 73°F. What Does This Mean For The HVAC industry? The study suggests that better oversight of HVAC system installation and commissioning is needed to ensure adequate classroom ventilation. The HVAC system must be configured to continuously provide outdoor air when the classroom is occupied regardless of heating or cooling needs. Periodic testing of ventilation systems and/or continuous real-time CO2 monitoring (either as stand-alone monitors or incorporated into thermostats) is recommended to detect and correct ventilation problems. California’s Division of State Architect review process requires projects to meet the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. However, most replacement HVAC projects are exempt from the review process; rather, schools are required to make sure the systems are compliant. Schools are required to comply with 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards Carbon dioxide detectors provide an inexpensive way to provide an alert if ventilation is too low Carbon dioxide detectors provide an inexpensive way to provide an alert if ventilation is too low. Only two of the 11 schools in the study used the devices. In general, it is more difficult to judge whether a room is getting enough ventilation, which is not easily perceived by people in the room. In contrast, high or low temperatures are obvious to occupants. Schooling and HVAC “There are nearly 1,000 school districts in California,” says Theresa Pistochini, engineering manager at the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, as reported by The Sacramento Bee. “With limited resources, it is unrealistic to expect that school district personnel be adequately training to ensure compliance. Increased oversight of HVAC replacements, or other ways to address widespread inadequate ventilation in California classrooms, are needed, likely through state intervention.” About two-thirds of the classrooms were in permanent, site-constructed buildings. The rest were in relocatable or portable classrooms. The sample was weighted to lower grades, with 42 of the classrooms from seven schools serving grades K-3, and 43 classrooms from eight schools assigned to grades 4-8. Only nine of the 104 classrooms were occupied by upper grades (9-12), and 16 of those were from the two high schools. The study was published In the Building and Environment Journal.
Teenage students at Greenfield-Central High School in Indiana are learning about the installation, operation and maintenance of air-handling systems. The career and technical education class is giving them a head start toward a decent-paying career in HVAC, including the opportunity to earn multiple certifications. “You’ll get a job if someone else doesn’t have the certifications you do, so [there are] more job opportunities,” one student told the Greenfield Daily Reporter. Addressing the industry's labor shortage The program highlights an opportunity to address the HVAC industry’s labor shortage by nurturing a next-generation workforce starting at an early age – in high school. Vocational programs teach HVAC as well as masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing Marathon High School in Wisconsin is another example; their vocational programs teach HVAC as well as masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing. “This course only exists because local contractors have been contacting me about the need to meet the demands of society,” John Vanderwyst, Tech Education Teacher at Marathon High School, told WZAW Fox7. “What we find is that a lot of these young adults don’t even realize that our profession exists,” says Jon Hirsch, Director of Business Development at Auer Steel in Milwaukee. “Unfortunately, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them,” he told WZAW Fox7. Statistical projections bear out the observation nationwide: Training and education programs will graduate only a fraction of the 115,000 additional HVAC workers needed by the year 2022. Career or College? Training and education programs will graduate only a fraction of the 115,000 additional HVAC workers needed by the year 2022 In an age when college debt can ruin a graduate’s finances even as he or she struggles to find employment, career path alternatives may seem more appealing. College is clearly not for everyone: More than half of all Americans who enroll in college become dropouts. College can also be cost-prohibitive, with a private four-year degree costing approximately $48,000 a year. It’s a great time to remind students and young adults about the value of a career in HVAC, where the median pay for mechanics and installers in 2018 was $47,610 per year. There is also a higher-than-average outlook for job growth in the industry – 13% growth over the next decade, from 367,900 employees to 414,200. HVAC Career opportunities The median pay for mechanics and installers in 2018 was $47,610 per year The reality is that graduates of technical school programs can earn more and have better career opportunities. The highest degree level needed for HVAC work is an associate (2-year) course of study, which is much less expensive than a bachelor’s degree program. According to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, HVAC techs with a high school diploma (or less) stand to earn $1.6 million in their lifetime. Having some college and/or an associate degree only raises that outlook by $200,000 to $1.8 million. More than half of employees in the HVAC field (51.1%) have a high school diploma or less. As Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, there will be a gaping hole of experience and knowledge to fill. Dan Canter is doing his part. Since retiring from the HVAC industry, he has been serving as the instructor for the course at Greenfield-Center High School.
The HVAC market in Europe is expected to show sustained growth in the upcoming years, but with variation among product segments. The decarbonisation strategies in Europe stimulate a strong demand for energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions. The heat pump market in particular has done exceptionally well, with double-digit growth for several years in a row. That’s the outlook from Eurovent, Europe’s Industry Association for Indoor Climate (HVAC), Process Cooling, and Food Cold Chain Technologies. Its members from throughout Europe represent more than 1,000 organisations, the majority small and medium-sized manufacturers. Eurovent's Outlook “The growth perspectives of the HVAC market depend partly on the fate of the economy,” says Mr. Francesco Scuderi, Deputy Secretary General and Head of Heating and Cooling at Eurovent. The erosion of multilateral trade relations has created uncertainty in the global economy, which is hampering investment. The issue most close to home for European businesses is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The issue most close to home for European businesses is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union McKinsey Global Institute’s recent global survey of company executives shows that 75% of companies expect to change their strategy due to trade tensions and 33% consider trade uncertainty to be their top concern. “This is a regrettable development,” says Scuderi. “At Eurovent, we have always stood for closer integration and the free movement of goods without unfair trade barriers.” Because of the climate, comfort cooling needs in Europe have typically been dwarfed by the demand for heating, he notes. Still today, more than 60% of the final energy consumption in EU households is attributable to space heating, whereas space cooling represents only a fraction of that according to the latest figures from Eurostat. Expansion Of The European AC Market Even so, the AC market in Europe has significantly expanded. The International Energy Agency estimates that the stock of installed equipment has grown from 44m units in 1990 to some 110m in 2019 and is expected to grow further still to an estimated 275m units by 2050. “While it is hard to gauge precisely the effects of climate change on the need for comfort cooling, more and more frequent extreme heat events have undoubtedly boosted AC sales in Europe, especially in recent years,” says Scuderi. Installed equipment has grown from 44m units in 1990 to some 110m in 2019 The big-picture trends in AC demand follow patterns of economic development, including improved electrification and increases in disposable income. The growth of AC sales in Europe is quite modest compared to the global trends, which have steepened as a result of rapid development in emerging economies like China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico. However, whether additional income is spent to satisfy comfort cooling needs will always depend on climate. “A more interesting potential for the European market is the uptake of heat pumps for space heating purposes,” says Scuderi. “Although the heat pump market has experienced tremendous growth, it still accounts for only a small fraction of all space heating appliances in the EU. Greater acceptance for air conditioners as a heating solution will require educating the market on its advantages, and further strengthening incentive programmes. Although efficient solutions have significantly lower costs over the life cycle of the product, the cost at the point of purchase is usually higher.” Panels discuss the importance of the expansion of the European HVAC industry Energy Efficiency In the EU The European Union has made extensive efforts to decarbonise the economy through a set of important regulatory instruments. The foremost ones for the HVAC industry are the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, the F-Gas Regulation, and the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations. The European Union has made extensive efforts to decarbonise the economy Eurovent strongly supports these initiatives, says Scuderi. “They make the building engineering sector more sustainable, encourage the uptake of highly efficient products, and stimulate further innovation and investment in R&D activities. All of this ensures that the European HVAC industry has a role to play in the built environment of tomorrow. Already today, the most energy efficient equipment is marketed in the EU, and the European building stock is on track to become carbon neutral by 2050. We need to work together with our international partners to ensure that the best market-available technologies prevail in more vulnerable markets as well.” Based on objective and verifiable data, members of Eurovent account for a combined annual turnover of more than 30bn EUR, employing around 150,000 people within the association’s geographic area. This makes Eurovent one of the largest cross-regional industry committees of its kind. The organization’s activities are based on democratic decision-making principles, ensuring a level playing field for the entire industry independent from organization sizes or membership fees. Members of Eurovent account for a combined annual turnover of more than 30bn EUR, employing around 150,000 people within the association’s geographic area Who Are Eurovent? As one of the oldest industry associations, Eurovent looks back at more than 60 years of association history. Eurovent today is the result of the merger of the associations CECMA, the European Committee of Constructors of Air Handling Equipment, and CECOMAF, the European Committee of Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers, in June 1996. Eurovent’s Member Associations are major national sector associations from Europe that represent manufacturers in the area of Indoor Climate (HVAC), Process Cooling, Food Cold Chain, and Industrial Ventilation technologies. The more than 1,000 manufacturers within the network (Eurovent “Affiliated Manufacturers” and “Corresponding Members”) are represented in Eurovent activities in a democratic and transparent manner. Eurovent invites everyone to the 2020 EUROVENTSUMMIT, the next edition of Europe’s major gathering for Indoor Climate (HVAC), Process Cooling, and Food Cold Chain Technologies. The 2020 EUROVENTSUMMIT will take place between 22 and 25 September 2020 in Antalya, Turkey. The event will seek to build bridges between manufacturers and consultants, planners, installers, trade associations and policy makers, between Europe, the East and beyond, towards more sustainable and circular products, towards more socially and environmentally responsible industry.
There is a gap between how buildings are designed and how they operate. For one thing, designers may not be focused on operability during the design process. Secondly, technology is playing a greater role in more complex buildings today, but it may not perform to expectations. These were among the observations by Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. ASHRAE’s 2019-2020 President, at a luncheon address at the 2019 Annual Conference. Importance of data security “Technology is not evil,” Boyce said. “We can have unrealistic expectations, and technology can be misused.” Additionally, technology can provide a large amount of data/information that can be overwhelming to control technicians. “Operators are being overwhelmed,” said Boyce. “Generally, they do not have the skills to operate today’s buildings and are not properly trained. At building turnover, operators are rarely properly oriented.” Green buildings When green buildings do not operate as intended, the result is ‘performance slippage’When green buildings do not operate as intended, the result is ‘performance slippage’ – the energy consumption is much higher than modeled targets. This can be because buildings were designed with systems that are beyond the capacity of building managers to operate. It could be that systems are complex and require several years to refine and understand. Finally, there is a correlation between performance and level of commissioning. One solution Boyce suggests is to include a building operations team representative throughout the design process. “The design should reflect the capabilities of the people operating the building,” says Boyce. “As a result, we will not be leaving operators wondering ‘How do I make this work?’” An effective turnover and orientation training process are critical. Building automation Boyce said ASHRAE should work with building owner-operator organizations to develop strategies to prepare the operators to effectively operate the building through enhanced training and effective use of building automation and analytical and other operational tools. “We should also engage with building operators at the Chapter and Society level to improve our understanding of their problems and develop educational and training programs to reduce the gap between design, construction and operations,” Boyce said. Facilities management “Facilities management must adopt technology more quickly and far more deeply,” he added. “It must move beyond technology to monitor space utilization and energy consumption. And we need to focus on using technology, data and analytics to enhance the workplace experience.” ASHARE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, a professional association seeking to advance HVAC&R systems design and construction. It has more than 57,000 members in 132 countries. ‘Building for People & Performance - Operational Excellence’ The theme focuses on overcoming the challenges associated with the efficient operationDuring his inaugural presidential address, Boyce announced the Society theme will be ‘Building for People & Performance - Achieving Operational Excellence’. The theme focuses on overcoming the challenges associated with the efficient operation and performance of buildings. “People must succeed within the buildings we create,” says Boyce. “ASHRAE is committed to preparing building professionals through learning opportunities, engagement and adopting better practices. These are the steps needed to achieve effective operational performance and operator experience.” Boyce is special advisor to the vice-president (Finance and Administration) at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Record hot temperatures in Europe last summer contrasted sharply with the region’s traditional aversion to air conditioning. Unlike the United States, where some 90% of homes are air conditioned, only around 5% of European buildings are equipped for the hottest temperatures. I can’t help but think that days and days of summer temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) must have motivated some building owners to reconsider the issue. Increasing Opportunity For The HVAC Market The blistering temperatures are likely to become more common. Climate change suggests a likelihood of an increase in average temperatures, which translates into longer and hotter summers to come. In the face of greater demand for climate control, clearly, there is an increasing opportunity for the HVAC market to thrive on the continent. Sales of fans and air conditioners surged during the worst of the summer heat A growing demand for air conditioning in Europe must be preceded by a change in attitude toward the technology. Europeans have traditionally opposed air conditioning, or at least shrugged it off as unnecessary or even potentially harmful to health. Nothing like a long, hot summer to change the paradigm. The signs are already there: Sales of fans and air conditioners surged during the worst of the summer heat, and one installer in Berlin reportedly suspended their phone service because of the flood of calls. Global Electricity Demand The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that Europe’s air-conditioner stock will double in the next two decades as record heat becomes more prevalent. The increase will be a major driver of global electricity demand. The future demand for air conditioning in Europe is dwarfed by higher demand throughout other parts of the world, especially India, Indonesia and China, according to the IEA. As incomes and living standards improve in developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is likely to soar. Globally, fans and air conditioners already account for 10 percent of electricity consumption, and the demand could triple over the next three decades. The increased demand will require new electricity capacity equivalent to the current capacity of the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined. Becoming More Energy Efficient Units need to become more energy efficient to minimize the impact on electricity consumption IEA predicts global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050 up from 1.6 billion today. Units need to become more energy efficient to minimize the impact on electricity consumption. The IEA emphasizes the need for stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labeling. Doubling the energy efficiency of the world’s stock of air conditioners between now and 2050 would help to reduce the need for new electricity infrastructure. From an efficiency perspective, European air conditioners are currently the most efficient in the world; even so, more demand will increase energy usage (which, ironically, could make global warming worse). Ambitious Performance Standards Designing buildings with an eye toward passive cooling and with better insulation can help lower the impact. Hotter weather trends in Europe and the rest of the world suggest monumental business opportunities for the HVAC industry. Capitalizing on those opportunities in a responsible way is an enormous challenge for the industry. We must provide comfort and coolness to a globally warming world while minimizing our impact on the environment in the process. Technology and innovation, driven by ambitious performance standards, can enable us to achieve both.
Interfacing with customers is a fundamental skill in the HVAC market, whether it is the person answering the phone at a small business, a technician visiting a homeowner’s residence, or an engineer working on a large system at a customer site. How well employees interact and communicate with customers helps determine the success (or failure) of any HVAC organization. One important skill is the ability to “think on your feet.” A survey by the commercial subsidiary of Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA Business) found some interesting results about the impact of how employees provide service and interact with customers. Of respondents to the survey, 91 percent say they regularly experience situations in which employees fail to apply a “flexible way of communicating.” More troubling, 88 percent of customers make negative assumptions about an organization as a result of poor staff behavior. improvise a creative solution In the RADA Business survey, 46% of people say they have experienced impatient customer service In an age of Internet commerce and automated phone systems, the ability to think “in the moment,” to respond appropriately and to improvise a creative solution are among the ways person-to-person interactions can differentiate themselves in an automated world. Adhering to a script and refusing to think creatively do not make a good impression on customers. Customers are quick to make judgments about an organization as a result. In the RADA Business survey, 46% of people say they have experienced impatient customer service; other poor staff behaviors include unhelpfulness (45%), poor communication (38%) or rudeness (32%). There may be multiple factors impacting the survey results, of course, such as difficult customers or stressful situations. embrace improvisational skills Workers struggling to respond effectively and appropriately need adequate support, and RADA Business says companies should embrace improvisational skills to unlock the true potential of their workers, so they can respond to each challenge in the best way. “Customers appreciate being heard and react positively toward workers who go the extra mile, but robotic service and a diminishing ability to improvise can leave customers feeling frustrated,” says Kate Walker Miles, Tutor and Client Manager at RADA Business. “By viewing the organization from the perspective of the customer, you can understand clearly how the business is being perceived and encourage a positive culture of improvisation.” RADA Business offers training to help support workers who struggle to think quickly and react to situations in a flexible way, tapping into the power of improvisation, which can empower an entire workforce to make imaginative yet informed decisions. time of artificial intelligence Small and large businesses alike need more employees who go out of their way to accommodate a customer’s request Obviously, not providing “robotic” service is one of the ways a company can maximize the value of its employees. Person-to-person interaction is one of the skills that cannot be (completely) automated, even in our time of artificial intelligence (AI). People who think on their feet are among the most valuable assets of any HVAC company. Small and large businesses alike need more employees who go out of their way to accommodate a customer’s request, to answer a question, to solve a problem, to overcome an objection. Making a personal connection with a customer transforms a company from a remote, faceless entity and makes it more inviting and accessible. Repeat business comes for companies that make that personal connection. provide a supportive environment Employees should be empowered to think on their feet and, yes, to improvise when the situation calls for it. Companies should work to nurture those skills and provide a supportive environment where employees are willing to go the extra mile. Those are the employees that will never be replaced by robots.
Johnson Controls’ recently expanded Rooftop Center of Excellence in Norman, Okla., reflects the company’s optimism about the future and growing prominence of RTUs. “Investing in the future of rooftop unit innovation in design and manufacturing is an investment in our customers,” said Steve Maddox, Vice President of Engineering, Commercial Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. Includes two-story testing lab The Rooftop Center of Excellence includes a two-story, 52-foot-high testing lab – roughly the size of one-and-a-half football fields. The extensive laboratory offers an environment for Johnson Controls to conduct on-site complex development, regulatory compliance, performance, safety and reliability testing. They can test a 150-ton rooftop unit in climates ranging from -30° to 130°F.The laboratory offers an environment to conduct on-site complex development, regulatory compliance, performance, safety and reliability testing “The expertise of the people leading this facility increases our speed to market, provides quality assurance and supports the development of energy-efficient technology,” said Maddox. Grand opening on April 17 Johnson Controls officially opened the state-of-the-art Rooftop Center of Excellence design, manufacturing and testing facility at a grand opening event April 17, 2019. The facility has been located in Norman, Okla., for nearly 50 years and will now serve as the flagship location for industry research, manufacturing and testing of Johnson Controls HVAC rooftop units. It’s a 900,000-square-foot facility that includes almost 400,000 square feet of incremental laboratory and manufacturing space and renovations to more than 150,000 square feet of office and meeting space. “The need for high-efficiency rooftop units has grown as customers demand simplified solutions to achieving sustainability,” said Philip Smyth, Director of Product Management, Applied DX, Johnson Controls. “The combining testing and manufacturing location allows us to better serve our customers while enhancing HVAC technology through collaboration and innovation.” A ribbon cutting was held when Johnson Controls' Rooftop Center of Excellence opened April 17, 2019 $1.75 million in funding from Oklahoma The Norman Economic Development Coalition (NEDC) helped Johnson Controls secure $1.75 million in funding from the Oklahoma Economic Development Pooled Finance Program to fund the new construction and renovation. For its role in expanding the Rooftop Center of Excellence, the NEDC won a Project of the Year Award for Excellence in Economic Development in the category of cities with population over 40,000. The award was presented by the Oklahoma Economic Development Council.Having this state-of-the-art facility has made a considerable positive impact on our local economy" “Having this state-of-the-art facility has created new jobs for our citizens and made a considerable positive impact on our local economy,” said Maureen Hammond, NEDC Interim President. Two new commercial rooftop units Over the past year, Johnson Controls has developed new products for existing lines and launched two new series of commercial rooftop units that were designed, engineered and assembled at the Rooftop Center of Excellence. The new series include the 25-50 ton Premier rooftop units, launched in December 2018. Most recently, the 15-27 ton Choice rooftop units were launched in August 2019. They exceed Department of Energy (DOE) 2018 guidelines by up to 25% and already surpass future DOE 2023 part-load standards by almost 10%. An optional four-stage IntelliSpeed fan control further enhances efficiency by delivering 15% higher IEER ratings. “Choice rooftop units deliver powerful solutions for reduced energy consumption within an economical price point to truly redefine the meaning of ‘standard’ efficiency,” said Matthew Shaub, Vice President & General Manager, Commercial Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls.
There is a huge skills gap in the HVAC trade, reflected by hundreds of thousands of unfilled trade jobs in the United States. With Baby Boomers retiring every day, skilled jobs such as HVAC technicians face a shortage of qualified applicants. Many HVAC companies are asking themselves: “In the face of a growing skills gap, how does my field service company grow?” One answer is in technology that makes existing field technicians more productive and provides needed expertise to every job site. Real-Time Remote Support XOi Technologies offers a platform to streamline service calls, facilitate real-time remote support for technicians, intelligently archive and resurface content, and improve customer transparency from the front lines of field service. “We empower our field service customers to effectively put their best tech on every site, which speeds resolution of issues, reduces cost, and increases sell-through of recommended maintenance and upgrades,” says C. Aaron Salow, CEO of XOi Technologies, Nashville, Tennessee. A quick search also provides a manual, wiring diagram and video training content for that specific unit The XOi Vision platform helps on-site HVAC technicians in three ways. One is to “capture” images and videos. A technician can take a picture (with a smart phone or tablet), and the system’s machine learning can extract the text from the nameplate of a unit in the field, interpret the type of name plate, and provide full model number, serial number and other information about the unit, which is relayed automatically to the technician in a text message. A quick search also provides a manual, wiring diagram and video training content for that specific unit. Thermal Overload Sensor, Compressor XOi Vision also “coaches” a technician by providing hours of those searchable videos loaded to the cloud. Key words are extracted and “tagged” in the videos by natural language processing (NLP), which can recognize terms such as thermal overload sensor, compressor, heat exchanger, etc. Content of the videos is therefore fully searchable. Finally, XOi Vision enables “collaboration.” A field technician can be connected via live video to a supervisor or to a virtual service center with experts on hand to guide the technician to perform the job. Mobile-to-mobile communication between a technician and supervisor can take advantage of “augmented reality” features such as the ability to share screens, draw on a screen, etc. Collaboration provides on-site expertise to any job site even for inexperienced technicians. Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Trades XOi has several thousand users of its system in the mechanical/electrical/plumbing trades, including large companies such as Lee Company, Taylor, and TD Mechanical; and smaller companies such as Duo-Temp, Maxair and Havtech. “We have to empower companies to have their best techs on every site,” says Salow. “It’s a big mountain to climb.” Solutions on the market tend to center around adding efficiencies to how calls are managed Existing “field service management” solutions on the market tend to center around adding efficiencies to how calls are managed, whether tracking the location of field workers or automating how they document and record their calls. In some cases, technology is “put on” field workers rather than designed to make them more productive. A “gotcha” element in some of the software could demotivate employees. What’s missing is help to ease the “technician’s journey.” Says Salow: “We are looking to serve the technician and provide value for the business.” Technology Solutions For HVAC Technicians Cost justification of technology solutions for HVAC technicians is a no-brainer. Companies routinely spend $450 to $500 to roll a second truck or to do a callback if there is a complaint or problem. These are non-billable events, and providers spend between 8 and 10 percent of their time doing callbacks or second truck rolls. Technology that can solve even 10 to 15 percent of callback issues provides an easy return on investment (ROI). Companies can also increase their revenue using the technology to provide faster and more detailed quotes for upgrades, replacements, and add-on sales. “Whoever gets the customer the most accurate quote the fastest gets the business,” says Salow. By capturing better and more detailed information from a job site quickly, a system can ensure an accurate quote, provide more transparency, and achieve a 25 to 30 percent increase in close rates. Images Provide Information Real-time images show any complications or challenges that could impact a quote Capturing and interpreting the content of images provides information to an inside sales team faster, and real-time images show any complications or challenges that could impact a quote; therefore, quotes are more accurate. Detailed quotes promote customer confidence by showing “how” a situation will be handled. The use of “wearables” such as Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens are often suggested as tools to provide immersive, “mixed reality” experiences to help with training and providing technical direction in a field environment. HoloLens, for example, can provide holograms of intricately detailed 3D images to empower a workforce, such as HVAC technicians. Acceptable Devices For The HVAC Environment However, the current generation of such devices are expensive, have limited battery life, are cumbersome to wear, and do not lend themselves to use in sweaty, outdoor environments. Salow says the technologies his company has developed will be immediately applicable to use with wearables as soon as acceptable devices for the HVAC environment are developed. For now, the company is content delivering its content through smart phones and tablets.
If the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is ratified in the United States, the HVAC industry could benefit for years to come. Overall, the amendment could provide an additional 33,000 jobs and $12.5 billion in annual economic output. Those numbers are from a study by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. It’s one quantifiable estimate of the economic impact of the Kigali Amendment, which promises to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) more than 80% over the next 30 years. Next-Generation Technologies HFCs were embraced at the time as a replacement because they are safe for the ozone layer The amendment provides a gradual phasedown of currently used HFCs to allow a more cost-effective transition to next-generation technologies. The Montreal Protocol (ratified in 1989) originally pledged to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), including the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) R-22, which was previously used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. HFCs were embraced at the time as a replacement because they are safe for the ozone layer, although they are a greenhouse gas and thus contribute to global warming. That was not as big a concern in the 1980s. The Kigali Amendment, which was negotiated in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2016 and ratified in November 2017, now targets use of HFCs in signatory countries beginning in January 2019. Economic Benefit To Businesses The amendment is expected to prevent up to a 0.9 degree Fahrenheit increase in global warming through the end of the century. That impact is significant given the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal to keep the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Fahrenheit through 2100. President Trump has not submitted the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for approval So far, 65 countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment, but it has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate. President Trump has not submitted the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for approval, although they would likely approve it because of the potential for economic benefit to businesses. Earlier, Barack Obama attempted to implement the Kigali Amendment without Senate approval but was undermined by the Supreme Court. Addressing Damage To The Ozone Layer An issue is whether the Kigali Agreement should be made part of the 1992 United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change because it targets global warning, rather than part of the Montreal Protocol, which is aimed at addressing damage to the ozone layer. The Kigali Amendment freezes HFC usage at certain annual levels for various countries and then seeks to reduce use of HFCs after that. Developed countries (such as the U.S.) would freeze HFC production and use in 2019, while developing countries such as China and Brazil would freeze usage in 2024. Developing countries, such as India and Pakistan, would freeze usage in 2028. Alternatives to HFCs include hydrofluoro olefins (HFOs) and natural refrigerants such as R-717, R-744, propane and butane. Heat Pump Equipment Switching away from HFCs requires a replacement of heat pump equipment HFOs are a new class of unsaturated HFC refrigerants that have a lower global warming potential and shorter atmospheric lifetimes; they are not included as substances to be phased down in the Kigali Amendment. Switching away from HFCs requires a replacement of heat pump equipment. During the transition, the industry will depend on hybrid refrigerants that combine HFCs and HFOs to meet regulatory targets without requiring HVAC equipment to be replaced. While HFCs are out of patent and cost around $7 a pound, the patented replacements, such as Solstice (Honeywell) and Opteon (Dupont), cost around $71 a pound. Replacing a heat pump to accommodate the newer substances will cost consumers thousands of dollars in equipment and installation costs. For the HVAC industry, it represents a potential business boon.
Words have meaning, and understanding the specific meaning of key words promotes more effective communication in an industry such as HVAC or refrigeration. What, exactly, is refrigeration? What is a cold chain? basic terminology used in HVAC&R industry ASHRAE and the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) have been working to establish new definitions for five keywords in the refrigeration field. In addition to refrigeration and cold chain, the organizations have also agreed on definitions for cooling, chilling, and freezing. The “new” definitions are the result of more than a year of discussions and were established to clarify globally the meaning of basic terminology used in the HVAC&R industry. “It was important that the differences that might exist in these definitions between the IIR and ASHRAE be erased for more consistency,” says Jean-Luc Dupont, head of the Department of Scientific and Technical Information of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), an independent intergovernmental science and technology-based organization that promotes knowledge of all refrigeration fields. The IIR includes more than 400 experts in 58 countries. “It now seems important for us to reach even greater harmonization on an international level to establish universal definitions,” Dupont adds. contributions of IIR ASHRAE is an American association seeking to advance heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration design and construction “The new definitions will help those within our industry, as well as the general public, gain a clearer understanding of important refrigeration keywords that are often misused or too broadly defined,” said ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter. ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) is an American professional association seeking to advance heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems design and construction. ASHRAE has more than 57,000 members in more than 132 countries worldwide. “We appreciate the contributions of IIR and anticipate that the adoption of these definitions will be positive.” To avoid confusion, the official definitions are: Cooling: (1) Removal of heat, usually resulting in a lower temperature and/or phase change; (2) Lowering temperature Refrigeration: (1) Cooling of a space, substance or system to lower and/or maintain its temperature below the ambient one (removed heat is rejected at a higher temperature); (2) Artificial cooling Chilling: Cooling of a substance without freezing it Freezing: Solidification phase change of a liquid or the liquid content of a substance, usually due to cooling Cold Chain: Series of actions and equipment applied to maintain a product within a specified low-temperature range from harvest/production to consumption IIR has called on all national and regional organizations and associations to adopt and disseminate the new definitions. The definitions will be included in ASHRAE Terminology, its free comprehensive online glossary of more than 3,700 terms and definitions related to the built environment, with a focus on heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R), as well as building envelope, electrical, lighting, water and energy use, and measurement terms.