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Another Year is in the Books

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s December and that marks the beginning of the ending of another year. The election is over, and all the issues that were broadcasted, podcasted, You-Tubed, Facebooked, and Tweeted have been put to rest and we can now relax, enjoy the holidays, and get ready for 2013.


In a year where we saw the re-election of an incumbent president despite one of the worst economies since the Great Depression, we’ve also witnessed a massive change in the public outlook on basic things such as healthcare, real estate, banking, and the economy. These things make it obvious that those of us in this industry have to rethink our approach to HVAC.

Healthcare and HVAC contractors are about to have a relationship change as Obamacare goes into effect in January. It remains to be seen if this will positively impact the small business community or just change the burden of healthcare to the individual employee.

That said, we have to think more about who are tomorrow’s contractors today and focus on the fact that recruiting and training remain job one. Where will we find the field technical force necessary to service our customers in accordance with their needs and their demands?

Answer: as an industry we must work together to recruit these people. That’s why I’m such a fan of the promotional video developed and produced by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) that was showcased at Mechanical Systems Week, where the industry meets. If you didn’t see the posts about this in our Tweets, on our Facebook and website pages, and in the October issue of the magazine (The First Word, page 6), you can see it and download it yourself from here:

This video is a great example of what we can do as a united industry. But there’s more work to be done. We must get together on the legislative challenges coming down the pike. By that I mean contractors, engineers, building owners and managers, trade associations, manufacturers, and distributors need to find better ways to work with the Department of Energy and the EPA on issues ranging from regional efficiency standards, green building standards, and refrigerant phaseouts.

Some of these folks stand on opposite sides of the argument on global warming: science versus politics. In the end, all goals must have a common interface: sustainability.

Having recently returned from San Francisco, which played host to the 2012 edition of GreenBuild, it became apparent to me that this event represents a massive change in how the different trades view buildings and how they work, interact with occupants, and use energy. It’s NOT all about the mechanical systems — just mostly. As an industry we have to change our thinking about our current approach to construction, service, and re-building. There is no “I” in teamwork.

Whether we’re talking about efficient use of electricity in refrigeration/HVAC systems to reducing solar gain on rooftops, or conserving water, all the trades need to overcome the urge to blame each other and learn to work in concert.

New technologies such as sewage-based geothermal, that might evoke a ‘yuck’ factor, need to be considered. Our mantra still needs to focus on comfort, and timing is everything when it comes to providing that comfort.

As we ride the storm out and begin the process of saying goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, remember to count your blessings, your holiday meal calories, and yourself lucky to live in the greatest nation on earth. While doing that, you also might want to mark your 2013 calendar on September 18-20. It’s during those days, in the city of Philadelphia — the birthplace of our nation — where we will witness the re-birth of Comfortech. Please plan on joining us there to network, to learn, and to celebrate the greatness of the HVAC industry.

From the staff of Contracting magazine, to you and your families, have a very safe, healthy, and productive 2013.

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