Issues in HVAC: 2015 Executive Roundtable

June 15, 2015
Nine questions. Eleven HVAC executives. 75 opinions. But much agreement on how to address industry issues and changes. Read what our panel of HVAC executives says about major challenges for 2015 and beyond.
Our Executives are: top row, from left: Carol Baker, NORTEK; Gary Bedard, Lennox; John Gibbons, Carrier; Mike Branson, Rheem; Tony Uttley, Honeywell. Bottom row, from left: John Galyen, Danfoss; Takeshi Ebisu, Daikin; Matthew Pine, Carrier; Liz Haggerty, Johnson Controls Unitary Products Group; Gary Michel, Ingersoll Rand; Bob Sharp, Emerson.

The HVAC industry never sleeps. Nor is there ever any deficit of issues swirling around this all-important industry. It's alive with change, challenges, and most of all, opportunities.

Our 2015 HVAC Executive Roundtable finds the HVAC industry dealing once again with new minimum efficiency standards, energy issues, continuing education responsibilities and attracting new people into the HVACR field.

The print version of this feature, which will appear in our June issue, required some editing for space considerations. This online version contains the entire commentaries from all respondents. We thank them for their contributions, both to this forum, and to the HVACR industry!

Browse through our gallery of executives to learn their opinions on the following questions:

Q1. We’re six months into the implementation of new federal rules regulating minimum energy use standards for various classes of residential HVAC appliances. Do you find contractors to be ready and aware of the changes?

Q2. The Department of Energy (DOE) formed a working group, which designed a plan to simplify labeling of equipment subject to regional standards, increase manufacturer, distributor, contractor and public awareness of the new standards, and facilitate reporting of violators. Will this help ensure compliance?

Q3. How has your company been informing and encouraging regional installation compliance within your dealer ranks? Have distributors been helpful?

Q4. Around the HVAC industry, there has been increased promotion, understanding and validation of the value of the “systems approach” to whole-house comfort system integration. Do you see this important home assessment method gaining traction? How is your company encouraging it?

Q5.We never know how long low energy costs will last. In the present low-energy environment, will system efficiency take on less importance, delay purchases, or serve to be a benefit in addressing “first cost”—i.e. energy payments can be diverted to system financing?

Q6. Furnace standards are now on the DOE’s hit list. They are proposing that all gas furnaces be 92% AFUE by 2021. Apparently, DOE has done very little in the way of consulting with industry prior to this proposal. How has your company tried to reason with DOE to bring about more reasonable standards for 2021?

Q7. The world has gone wireless, and “smart” homes and “thinking” thermostats are increasing in popularity. How does your company envision the smart home of the not-so-distant future?

Q8. Do you foresee a day when natural refrigerants will be successfully incorporated into home HVAC systems? These may include carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia or propane.

Q9. What are the best methods the HVACR industry can employ to increase interest in HVACR and enrollment in HVACR career programs?

Our Panel:

Carol Baker, vice president of marketing, Nortek Global HVAC
Gary Bedard, vice president/general manager, Lennox Residential
Mike Branson, vice president/ general manager, Rheem Air Conditioning Division
John Galyen, president, Danfoss North America
John Gibbons, director of product marketing, Carrier
Liz Haggerty, vice president/general manager, Johnson Controls Unitary Products Group
Gary Michel,  senior vice president/president, Ingersoll Rand residential HVAC business
Matthew Pine,  vice president of marketing, Carrier
Bob Sharp, executive vice president, Emerson; business leader, Emerson Climate Technologies
Takeshi Ebisu, CEO, Daikin
Tony Uttley, vice president/general manager, home comfort and energy systems, Honeywell