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HVAC Comfort: Living With Technology

June 4, 2013
There is a lot of innovation out there, but the key for continued success and growth of HVACR contractors is to not become so enamoured of the new technology itself, but to focus on the benefits it provides customers from a comfort, safety, and health standpoint.

We live in a world that is ruled by technology. From the smart phones glued to our ears to the key fobs we use to start our cars, from the electronic check-in for airline flights to the specialized comfort solutions that the HVACR industry brings to the table for their commercial and residential customers, technology is both a blessing and the bane of our existence n the 21st Century.

Mike Weil, Editorial Director

The blessing is that electronic, digital tech makes our lives easier. It makes us more productive. It makes us safe and helps make us comfortable in our indoor environments. The bane is that despite all this fascinating tech, many people remain resistant to the changes it brings to our lives.

In this issue of Contracting magazine, we address the impact of HVAC industry technology with a spin, if you will, on how to apply it for the betterment of our lives. For example, our cover story, “Ingenuity Creates Opportunity,” is our annual executive roundtable where industry leaders discuss the issues facing the entire HVAC marketplace and how we can use technology to overcome them.

We examine the influx of variable refrigerant flow technology in both the commercial and residential marketplaces in the article,”VRF: Proven Technology Provides Specialized Solutions,” as well as our third installment of the “Refrigeration Roundtable” which explores system alternatives (page 52).

There is a lot of innovation out there, but the key is for us to not become so enamoured of the tech itself, but to focus on the benefits it provides our customers from a comfort, safety, and health standpoint.

According to Columnist Dominick Guarino in his Last Word editorial, “A History Lesson: Let’s Not Forget About Comfort,” the lessons we’ve learned from decades of conforming to new energy efficiency and indoor air quality standards is that building performance is what we must strive for. He says, “Performance is where comfort and efficiency intersect.” What a beautiful way to summarize what this industry is all about.

In late May I had the opportunity to see that intersection in action in Chattahoochie Hills, GA at the Bosch Experience Center at Serenbe.

The Bosch Experience Center is an educational and interactive demonstration center for Bosch products, which range from geothermal heating and cooling systems to solar thermal, photovoltaics, energy efficient home appliances, security and sound systems, power tools, aluminum structural materials, and automotive clean diesel technology.

But the really cool thing is that the Bosch Experience Center exists as part of a self-sufficient community built in harmony with nature, that makes little impact on the environment, and that provides comfortable, healthy living in modern homes. By the way, the featured geothermal system  was recognized in 2012 and 2013 as “Most Efficient” by Energy Star.

Serenbe, in the Chattahoochie Hills, is a 1,000-acre sustainable community development that is a national model for the future of balanced residential development in the U.S. The community maintains a focus on land preservation, agriculture, energy efficiency, walkability, high density and green building, arts and culture and community living for multiple generations.

It is a very technologically savvy place that appears mores bucolic than technocratic. It is an excellent reminder of what this industry is all about.

As Guarino says in his column, “If our industry is to move towards a future that includes energy efficiency and performance, we have to remain painfully aware that making our customers’ homes comfortable is still our primary mission. The customers we’re tasked with keeping comfortable are our ultimate judge and jury.”

I’m interested in hearing your perspectives on how we should live with technology. Please drop me a note at [email protected].