In early February, I attended the AHR expo 2020 in Orlando, FL. It’s an annual trade show that brings together the latest products and innovations in the HVAC-R industry. I was there not just because Orlando is a great escape from Vermont in February and I like being comfortable but also because there’s a huge push in the industry toward being energy efficient and/or climate friendly. Eco-friendly refrigerants, utilizing automation, using variable speed equipment and other smart building implementations were big talkers from the showroom floor to the learning sessions. Energy star says as much as half of the energy used in a home is going to heating & cooling. Commercially, the number isn’t much different so you can see why efficiency advancements are so enticing to home, building and business owners.
Monday afternoon I had the opportunity to sit in the learning session, “Building for a Climate Emergency”. The focus of the session was to explain how HVAC-R will play a role in combating climate change. It was hosted by Brad White – President SES Consulting, Casey Talon – Research Director, Navigant Research & Ken Sinclair – Owner/Editor/Founder automatedbuildings.com. White says, “Clients [building & business owners] are investing serious money in tackling their emissions in response to climate change.” Future business partners and future talent may very well read into those efforts. Talon added, “Your building is part of your brand. It can represent how you work.” For any number of reasons, climate change can be a difficult topic to bring up with decision makers. Talon tries to make it easier, “You don’t have to say the words, ‘climate change’. You don’t have to say ‘carbon’ to change the narrative and drive change. Tell a different story that includes the financial or technological benefits.” White adds, “Climate adaptation in building is often times an opportunity at mitigation.”
That takes us to the show floor. I walked the show all 3 days, day one was easily the busiest. Going through the doors Monday morning was no problem but foot traffic was shoulder to shoulder from booth to booth, heat pump to heat pump, huge fan to huge fan, chiller to chiller. The first booth I came across belonged to Cooper&Hunter, they do air conditioning. It was manned by Edwin Velez and a delightful interactive robot that resembled something out of the movie Independence Day. The stage was for the rest of the show, learning about companies like the Melink Corporation who are doing work in both HVAC and commercial solar. Speaking of solar, it was encouraging to see the sun being used in so many ways. SunEarth uses it to heat water. Solar Royal uses the sun to vent attics and SolX uses the sun as a way to reduce energy consumption.
The growth of the industry is exciting! There were many international companies with booths efforting to bring their product to the United States. A number of US based companies also told me they plan to expand their sales staff to other areas of the country and even open additional offices or distribution centers. That involves bringing on more people, do you need a job? Some hiring manager pain points included convincing prospects to move to their location, finding engineers with both hard and soft skills (a classic) as well as finding sales representatives that know the industry from the manufacturing side.
Research and development teams are working overtime to make sure you and Mother Nature stay as comfortable as we can. I’m looking forward to helping build the teams that make it all possible. The next trade show on my list is ConExpo in Las Vegas in March. See you there!