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New Year, Same Decade, Another Great AHR Show

Jan. 2, 2020
In this last year of the decade of the 2010s, how will you change, adapt or otherwise improve your HVAC/R business for the better? A good place to start is by attending the 2020 AHR Expo.

We have not started a new decade. I repeat, we have not started a new decade.

This truth will not affect lazy sports talk show or entertainment show hosts so obsessed with “Best of the Decade” programs. Seeing the number 20 in the year just drives people bonkers. I can only hope my industry editorial colleagues show some restraint. Nevertheless, we are still in the decade of the 2010s. Do the math, and you’ll see. 

So until this 10th year reaches its completion at midnight, December 31, 2020, you have another year to put a ribbon on this decade of the 10s.

Start by attending the 2020 AHR Expo, Feb. 3-5 in Orlando. Always a great event with which to begin the HVACR industry’s new year, this show brings the entire industry together for three days of product news, educational sessions, networking and for this year, you will enjoy the beautiful weather of sunny Florida.

Positive Outlook, Challenges Noted
The International Exposition Company and the AHR Expo management team has again released an industry outlook in advance of the show. And again we see you picked a great industry of which to be a part.

This Annual Economic Outlook Survey of HVACR manufacturers and attendees provides a snapshot — actually, it's more like an expansive pan shot — of their opinions of the HVACR industry's business opportunities and hurdles to clear as the new year begins. 

We all know the economy has been strong, and that's reflected here. Seventy-five percent of the 1,418 total respondents said they expect business to increase; 25% said they expect business to increase by more than 10 percent. Seventy-nine percent said 2020 prospects for business are expected to be good or excellent.

Segment-wise, light commercial, hospital and residential market segment respondents have a "good" or "excellent" outlook, 72%, 67% and 64% respectively. Respondents said the best prospects for 2020 growth are in maintenance/replacement (72%); retrofit/renovation (67%); and new construction (64%).


When asked to list areas of most concern and greatest perceived opportunities, responses were right in line with what we've heard over the past year or two: 

• Tariffs

• Energy efficiency & DOE  regulations

• Low GWP refrigerants and R22  phase out

• Growth of data centers

• Regulatory compliance and new standards

• Lack of skilled workforce and opportunities to grow the trades

• Automation and self- diagnostic controls

• Energy considerations

• Modularization

• Deregulation and implications to competition

• Growth of big box retailers

• Global market

• Short-term implications of a trade war

• Consolidation of manufacturers

• SEER  regulations

• IoT, IIoT and system protocols

• Digitalization

• Outcome of the 2020 Election and resulting economy

• Indoor Air Quality and consumer considerations

• New Technologies – VRF, mini-splits, geothermal, tankless, VRV, green initiatives, etc.

New Product Considerations
Among both show attendees and exhibitors surveyed, both groups named RELIABILITY as the most important consideration when choosing a product, followed by:

For Attendees                    
First Costs                           
Energy Efficiency                
Indoor Air Quality               

For Exhibitors
Energy Efficiency
Indoor Air Quality
First Costs


THIS YEAR'S pre-show survey included for the first time commentary from some industry endorsing organizations. Among their detailed comments:

ASHRAE: "Human wellness within the built environment is an area of significant opportunity. ASHRAE's leadership role will expand in IEQ to support the growing interest in wellness and operational success in buildings by incorporating objectives into ASHRAE technical activities and working with other organizations to link  the built environment to operational excellence."   — Darryl Boyce, President, ASHRAE

AHRI (Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute:
• "Our industry continues its steady commitment to increased energy efficiency, environmental performance, convenience and comfort for its products, equipment, and customers." 
• "One of the biggest opportunities is the industry industry coming together to lobby for and get legislation passed that would establish a national phase down schedule for HFCs. This could provide some certainty for manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and others with respect to when equipment using alternative refrigerants will need to be available." — Steve Yurek, AHRI President & CEO

 "There is a growing understanding in the industry that the Internet of Things is driving a host of technologies that can improve building controls but the business models and products in consumer IoT do not meet commercial building owner needs.This has led to a broad consensus on the need for a focus on commercial building IoT (BloT) to leverage technologies like cloud analytics and big data without compromising the requirements of building owners."
— Andy McMillan, BACnet President

CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Association): "The market has seen some cost incentives for the adoption of intelligent buildings technologies in HVACR  and this is an encouraging development. Cost incentives recognize that more intelligent and responsive systems are better equipped to support peak demand reduction programs and energy savings during high consumption periods for heating and cooling. For example, advanced occupancy and lighting sensors that work with lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.”
— Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO

HVI (Home Ventilating Institute:
• "There are more code-driven initiatives being operationalized as we complete 2019 and move into 2020. California's Title 24 is prompting questions on how to adequately meet the code. California's energy code is designed to reduce wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption in newly constructed and existing buildings." 
• "New codes being adopted are causing confusion for the designers and installers of HVAC equipment. Education is going to be paramount as manufacturers market their products in different regions of the country." 
— Jacki Donner, HVI Executive Director & CEO

HI (Hydraulic Institute): "With lighting incentives fading out in 2020, building and system owners will find new pump related incentive programs that many utilities are now launching to meet their energy efficiency goals." 
• "2020 will bring an important new regulation requiring energy efficient pumps. In January 2020, approximately 25 percent of clean water pumps between 2-200 hp will no longer be on the market."  — Michael Michaud, HI Executive Director

NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association: "NADCA is in the final  stages of the first round of an Energy Study. Led by Dan  Stradford, NADCA Vice President, in partnership with Dr. Mark  Hernandez of the University of Colorado at Boulder, this study was formulated to determine if any statistically significant changes in energy usage was associated with systematic HVAC duct and and heat-transfer equipment cleaning. The executive summary of this study is in review, and will be released in early Spring." — Jodi Araujo, NADCA Chief Staff Executive

SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association):  "Our members are interested in seeing virtual design advances along with new construction concepts and applications. They are eager to see what tools and applications make significant improvements in fabrication and installation processes." — Thomas Soles, SMACNA Executive Director, Market Sectors

 WHVACR (Women in HVACR): "The possibility of  Uberization in HVAC,  like Yellow Taxi  is a potential wake up call  for thousands of  HVAC  companies nationwide. Today, it’s more important than ever to continue to build strong and loyal relationships with your customer base. We can tie more loyalty between customers and service providers to maintain a relationship even if big box stores start providing home services like Uber." — Danielle Putnam, President, WHVACR

So, is the HVACR industry alive with change, innovation and challenging issues? Yes.

Will you attend the 2020 AHR Expo in Orlando, Florida? Only you can answer that. 

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.