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It Isn't Easy Being Green, But These Days It Is Essential

HVACR distributors have been a driving force toward increased system efficiency and performance, and proper installation for decades but are now arguably receiving more help from local, state and federal regulators and legislators than they'd asked for or expected. These circumstances have driven HARDI into an essential role of educating, advocating and advancing responsible, reasonable and affordable heating and cooling practices.

The recent wave of green initiatives places HARDI distributors in the middle, foisting upon them the integral role of bridging policy with implementation. Further, HARDI distributors must take the lead in representing the implementation of energy-saving and environmentally sound policy and regulation. To accomplish this, HARDI as an association must be highly active on the federal and state levels while individual distributors - in coordination with local contractor chapters - need to be local leaders. Proposed policy and regulation would do little more than limit supply and availability of products while doing little to nothing to drive demand for alternative products. HARDI and its members must be more proactive with commercial and residential builders and architects, utilities and government agencies to develop the markets for the products favored by regulators.

At HARDI's 2007 Annual Fall Conference, these are some of the questions addressed by the Council.

What two or three issues did your Council identify as currently being the most pressing for HARDI distributors/the industry?

The Montreal action on R-22 phaseout and the implications to contractors and wholesalers are of critical importance and immediate implication. With the 2015 90 percent reduction and 2020 phaseout of R-22, we are selling systems whose useful lives extend beyond the phaseout of the refrigerant that makes them function. The EPA's own forecasts show a considerable gap in the availability of R-22 to meet even service needs for our industry. Purchasers of these systems need to be aware of this fact. Wholesalers must plan to aggressively phase down/out now, while they can still be in control of their own destiny. HARDI members can help communicate this accelerating changeover slope by completing the R-410 survey they receive quarterly from HARDI. The HVAC Systems & Equipment Council believes it must be a priority to gain the assistance of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to accelerate the phaseout and educate home buyers.

What actions has your Council decided to take regarding these issues?

There is a tsunami of interest in green building and the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®). The commercial LEED standards are now a part of everyday life for many in the construction industry. With HARDI having recently joined the USGBC, the emergence of LEED for homes and the new Energy Star® Quality Installation Certification coming for residential applications, HARDI members need education and communication on this groundswell of societal and political change. The Council recommends a separate Green/LEED committee to properly address this topic and place HARDI at the center of the issue. This topic incorporates the Energy Star adoption of the ANSI/ACCA installation standard, measurement tools and adoption criteria.

What is the outcome your Council is seeking regarding these issues?

Pending legislation on efficiency standards, global warming technologies, regional standards and expiring energy tax credits all have widespread implications for our industry and members. We need to be at the table when Capitol Hill contemplates solutions, not after officials present the bills for consideration. Our activity in building energy legislative and regulatory efforts needs to be widespread and coordinated by HARDI. This is not to say that we oppose energy conservation. Quite to the contrary, our members and industry have been at the epicenter of efficiency gains, education and adoption since the late 1970s. Rather, it is the realization that other forces in society and government are now promulgating and implementing these technology and efficiency gains without the understanding of the manufacturing, distribution and installation industries that support them. This makes our involvement so absolutely critical to our nation's successful implementation of an effective energy strategy.

What action(s) has your Council decided to take regarding these issues?

In addition to recommending the creation of a “Green Committee” (for lack of a better term), the Council drove HARDI's decision to join the U.S. Green Building Council and will play an integral role in HARDI's representation on the USGBC's LEED Energy & Atmosphere committee, LEED Existing Buildings, LEED Homes, and Government Committees. HARDI will also be engaging the EPA more aggressively as well as the Department of Energy while working closer with organizations like the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, which represents the utilities and other stakeholders who develop public benefit programs to drive energy savings. The Council will also be appointing a representative to sit on the HARDI Government & Trade Relations Committee as the primary liaison between the two groups.

When will your Council next meet whether in person or by phone to discuss any of these issues?

The Council will next meet in person at the Mid-Year Business Conference in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2008. All Council members are strongly encouraged to participate in the Congressional Fly-In April 30 and May 1 before the Mid-Year Conference.

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