By Alex Carney, publisher The age of accountability has once again cast its shadow our way. I recently attended a local builder meeting where an attorney, speaking to the group, suggested that residential home builders should no longer allow humidifiers in their newly constructed homes. Why? According to the noble barrister, the legal perils of mold growth are just too great. He says to stop putting moisture into new homes because you’ll be sued for every penny you’ve got when it morphs into an insidious mold dragon — spreading its black, poisonous, slimy jam on your children before devouring them whole. (Check out our June 2002 cover story to meet this dragon.) The last thing this industry needs is to remove the accessories that provide comfort. We can stop the mold problem through better construction practices and HVAC design, or we can just quit building new homes for the nearly 1.6 million people who purchase them annually. The threat of mold is no reason to advise anyone to forego the efficient comfort that proper humidity provides. You know that dry nasal passages lead to as many health concerns as the propagation of mold spores. Why is the construction industry unwilling to make comfort a standard benefit of homeownership rather than an option? Auto manufacturers are first-rate pushers. They keep adding standard features and benefits to new automobiles that were once options. Can you buy a car without a radio, power steering, or power brakes today? No! Plus, they’re experts at packaging accessories. If you want the killer stereo you have to buy the leather seats. Why not package HVAC? If you want the comfort you have to buy the total system. The time is right to approach a home builder or even a commercial building owner who may be concerned about liability or even his livelihood. Proper ventilation, humidity control, sealed ductwork, and a building’s thermal envelope all play a crucial role in the health and comfort of occupants. Why are we afraid to push this industry forward? People want to be comfortable. People are literally dying from exposure to air contaminants that could be remedied by properly designed mechanical systems. If you don’t help, who will? The legal beagles don’t have the answers. An increased demand for better HVAC services is coming from all corners. According to Contracting Business research many homeowners, with more discretionary income than ever before, understand the ramifications of poor indoor air quality. Restaurant and hotel owners are crying for ventilation solutions; their businesses are under the threat of government intervention. Manufacturers are asking HVAC contractors to become more accountable. NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification is now a requirement of several major industry manufacturers’ marketing benefits programs — including Bryant, Carrier, Lennox, Trane, and York. Next month, in CB, you’ll see a proactive way to sell total comfort. It’s bearing down upon our industry. Will you be pushed or pulled into the age of accountability? Mark Matteson’s book, Freedom From Fear , sums up the proactive stance you should consider: “You can have anything you want if you only assist enough other people to get what they want first.” Send comments and suggestions to Alex Carney, publisher, at [email protected] or call 216/931-9432.