Go Green or Get Left Behind

Go Green or Get Left Behind

By Phillip Gray

Phillip Gray & Jason Broyles
Phillip Gray (right) and Jason Broyles, co-owners of South Nashville Heating and Cooling, are standing in front of the Nutone unit he installed in his own home. He sells the NuTone 14 SEER/80 AFUE/8.0 HSPF iHybrid™ Packaged System because it combines the electric heating and cooling convenience of a heat pump with the energy-efficiency of a gas-heat furnace. The iHybrid is available in 2 to 5-ton capacities, uses R-410A refrigerant, and qualifies for NuTone’s ecoLogic green seal.

Years ago, retired homeowners feared not being able to afford healthcare. Today, with the costs of utilities on the rise, retired homeowners may soon be worried about not being able to keep the lights on. For our company, the solution has been to go green – but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, going green lets you tie into the media hype and into the customer’s mindset. But the real reason our company is pushing green is because we honestly believe it’s the way of the future.

Two years ago my company took on a green project. It was our first. When we started investigating the green regulations, we were intimidated and a little overwhelmed. But once we saw how those regulations benefitted the environment and realized its importance, we were hooked. Now we do every job that way. And the project – Morgan Park Place in historic Nashville – received the 2007 Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, making us the first project-contractor recipient.

This award is considered one of the most prestigious environmental and conservation awards in the state and was established more than 20 years ago to recognize outstanding achievements by individuals, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and agencies for successful environmental projects and conservation measures.

Morgan Park Place is a 72-unit, multifamily, mixed use, urban infill new construction project in the Historic Germantown area of Nashville. The site is being developed and built completely in accordance to EarthCraft House specifications. You can learn more about this specification at their website: www.earthcrafthouse.com.

The Real Energy Crisis
Think about this: America is lagging behind other countries in terms of controlling energy costs. Historically, Asia and Europe have had higher energy costs while the United States has been cheap. We’re catching up now. Our costs are rising and there’s no relief in sight.

The Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards

These prestigious environmental and conservation awards in the state have been given to individuals and organizations that make great contributions to the conservation of our wildlife and related natural resources, the natural elements upon which all life depends.

The purpose of the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards is to recognize outstanding achievements by individuals, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and agencies for successful environmental projects and conservation measures. The program also promotes leadership by example and in turn increases conservation of the natural resources of the State of Tennessee – its wildlife, forests, soils, water, natural heritage, parks and recreation, and air.

The awards are designed to bring about a greater knowledge and awareness of environmental and conservation practices and projects, and to give proper recognition to those persons and organizations that make outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of their community and the state.

Some other criteria include:

  • Building Green Award purpose/eligibility: To recognize individuals, businesses, organizations, or agencies that further the widespread use of green building materials and construction techniques.
  • Building Green Award judging criteria: Collaboration with existing green building programs; relationship between the environmental benefits and the associated economic benefits.

To learn more, please visit the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Building Green at the following website: www.state.tn.us/environment/awards/pdf/07winners.pdf.

In the past six years, middle Tennessee has seen a 75% increase in the price of natural gas. And who would’ve thought two years ago that we’d be paying $4 per gallon for unleaded? Guess what — The Department of Energy predicts energy costs will continue to rise through 2009! That alone puts the idea of “green” into consumers’ minds.

When selling green to homeowners today, it’s natural to start with the cost analysis, to look at how much money customers can save on current utility bills. But if you leave your sales pitch at that, you’ll likely short-change the customer.

It’s hard to be accurate with any analysis when costs continue rising so rapidly. To sell green, you need to sell the long-term impact in addition to the immediate savings.

That long-term impact includes being responsible for natural resources and conserving our nation’s energy. There are so many things we in the HVAC industry can do to make a difference beyond installing energy-efficient equipment. To start, analyze the entire job, from the ductwork insulation to the air quality. Prioritize the homeowner’s needs and find places where they can save energy.

It’s easy to just to swap out boxes; the responsible approach is to look at the entire house as a system and find green solutions to the issues you encounter.

Show homeowners how your system is a wise investment in their home. Explain how green solutions can make their home more comfortable, their utility bills less, their indoor air cleaner and healthier, and how these things also help to take care of the environment and protect natural resources.

Green Is Coming, and We Can’t Stop It
The best advice for contractors wanting to strengthen their business? Get educated on green. Homeowners can tap into a wide array of green information on the Internet and are becoming educated on the regulations. Do you know enough to answer their questions? Take as much time as you possibly can to learn the regulations behind LEED®, EarthCraft House certification, and green buildings. Equipment manufacturers also need to be better equipped to design products that meet those standards.

In Tennessee, the state and local governments are investing in environmentally sustainable construction. In fact, all state buildings are now required to be LEED-certified, meaning only contractors who understand the LEED requirements can bid them. The fact that government buildings are going green is exciting proof that the environmental movement is here to stay. It’s time to get on board with green. Because green is coming, and we can’t stop it.

Phillip Gray, who’s been in the HVAC industry for 34 years, is president of South Nashville Heating & Cooling Co. in Nashville, TN. His son, Mark, is a project manager with the company, and daughter Christi recently joined the team in an administrative and scheduling role. He recently installed a green NuTone iHybrid dual-fuel packaged unit in his own home.

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