Contractors Making Good in Green Market
December 28, 2009
Some contractors are going deep into the green market, and it’s serving them well. It’s not just following a trend; it’s offering real value to customers. That’s why it works.
For instance, alternative energy retailing, green-oriented HVAC service contracting, and developing and marketing its own solar-assisted heat pump are just a few of the things that helped form Environmental Heating & Air of North Carolina Inc. (EHA-NC), Cary, N.C., last year.
Vice president Ryan Profitt’s green HVACR certification tied those building block philosophies into a cohesive marketing effort. “We already had great ideas, knowledge, and products, but the certification really gave us the credibility and the marketing tools needed to market ourselves as green,” explained company president Christopher Montana.
Profitt earned his “Green HVACR Certification” by downloading an 85-page desktop manual, Green HVACR Technician Certification: A Desktop Reference & Training Guide for Implementing Green Practices in Building Thermal Control in Residential/Commercial/Industrial Refrigeration, from www.epatest.com. The manual was written by Robert P. Scaringe, P.E., Ph.D., and president of Mainstream Engineering. The manual was free, although Profitt paid $24.95 for the subsequent online testing and certification.
GREEN MISSIONMontana, a commercial real estate investor, and Profitt, a 10-year commercial-residential HVACR service tech veteran, said they formed EHA-NC because few contractors were advocating and promoting green HVAC system installation, retrofit, and service work within a targeted 100-mile geographical radius of their headquarters.
HVACR contractors offering solar heating-power, wind power, LED lighting, grid-tie inverters, and other alternative energy technologies are still relatively uncommon. Through research, the duo also learned that many of the Raleigh, N.C., suburb’s 132,000 residents are receptive to green technology because they’re employed at nearby Research Triangle Park.
“Many HVACR contractor services are already green,” said Profitt, “such as cleaning coils, changing filters, and making efficiency improvements, but contractors don’t realize the potential in promoting these services as green.” Profitt will also be mandating the green training-certification for EHC’s six service techs and installers. “The certification provided us with truck decals, arm patches, and other ideas on promoting green.”
The contractor promotes its green message in weekly 60-second radio advertisements, monthly magazines such as Cary Monthly, weekly newspapers such as the Coffee News, and direct mail. The contractor also takes advantage of other green opportunities such as the local utility, Progress Energy’s “Home Energy Improvement Program” (HEIP), which requires an educational class for participation. “HEIP and our Green HVACR Certification complement each other nicely,” said Profitt.
RETAIL TOOThe contractor also has opened Alt Energy Country, a 1,400-square-foot retail store adjacent to its office and contracting headquarters. This highly visible cornerstone showcases the company’s green mission.
Displays of Carrier and York high-SEER HVAC equipment offer visual demonstrations of potential energy savings. Other equipment demonstrations include solar panels, photovoltaic cells, LED tube lighting retrofit kits for fluorescent fixtures, cyclonic-evacuated tube manifolds for domestic hot water heating, wind generators, voltage regulators, water boost heat systems, controller panels, transfer tanks, heat exchange manifolds, grid-tie inverters, etc.
A majority of the SKUs carried in the store are private labeled under the Alt Energy Country brand. One of the store’s main goals will be promoting the solar-assisted, split system heat pump Profitt and Montana designed to sell to their customer base, as well as to HVAC contractors around the nation. The patent-pending, self-contained, 2-ton model marketed and distributed under the Alt Energy Country brand is unique for the U.S. market; it uses cyclonic evacuated-tube technology to provide an approximate 10 percent energy boost.
The system currently heats and cools the EHA-NC offices for a monthly average of $99 (versus a conventional heat pump in a next-door office with identical square footages and similar heat loads, operating at $150/month). The solar-assisted heat pump costs approximately 40 percent more than a mini-split, but the payback in energy savings is less than two years, according to Montana.
“The solar-assisted heat pump puts out much hotter and cooler temperatures while using considerably less energy,” he said, “and the payback is very short because cyclonic-evacuated tube technology has become very affordable.”
While the solar-assisted heat pump is only available as a 2-ton model, Alt Energy Country also has a retrofit model for heating only and an upcoming heating-cooling retrofit model that will be compatible with most sizes of conventional residential heat pumps, the company said. “People shouldn’t have to change out perfectly fine equipment before its lifecycle ends,” Montana said; “therefore we’re strong believers in retrofit products.”
The success of Alt Energy Country and the firm’s existing and future product developments depends on the public’s continued progression toward energy and environmental consciousness. “The behavior of people here in America is becoming more value oriented and long-term minded,” said Montana. “I think offering people a product that is affordable upfront, that saves a significant amount of energy versus conventional equipment, and that can help make the world a cleaner place for their children will encourage them to buy into it.”
GREEN COMMERCIALOn the commercial side, Monroe Mechanical Inc., Monroe, Ohio, has purchased a historical downtown Cincinnati building and is transforming it to become a regional green source for environmentally friendly construction products and services.
Renovation began on a building originally built in 1875 at 19 E. 8th Street to create a Midwest resource center. GreenSource is a showroom for manufacturers to display green HVAC and electrical technologies, water-reclamation systems, green roof systems, a green data center, and other products, said Ez Housh, president of Monroe Mechanical. The focus will be on green commercial buildings.
“A large part of the green building movement is being a good steward of our existing resources, one of those being existing buildings,” said Housh. “We picked this building because it has good bones.”
“The first-floor lobby and presentation area will be brought back to the original 1875 grandeur, where the mayor of Cincinnati might have entertained the public,” said Will Housh, operations manager. “The back room will be the actual product demonstration center with active building components,” he added. “The third-floor apartment and patio area will be for meals, entertainment, and lodging for an occasional out-of-town guest.”
The roof will feature a green roof system. The firm plans to host monthly meetings for groups such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the Institute for Real Estate Management (IREM), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
“We’ll offer individual client attention as well as a group-based educational training,” Housh added. “Our goal is to become a resource center for the building community. It’s so important that people be able to see, touch, and understand these products for real-world applications. Through this service we’ll broaden our customer base and extend our offering to existing customers.”
Monroe Mechanical is a family-owned HVAC and mechanical design company. It was an early adopter of green HVAC solutions, and has installed more than 700 geothermal units since 1988. The firm offers residential and commercial heating and cooling; energy audit services; refrigeration; plumbing; metal work; and design-build, utilizing green technology whenever possible.
Sidebar: The Fast TrackCALEXICO, Calif. - Enalasys Corp. has been ranked No. 44 by Inc. magazine on its 28th annual Inc. 500, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The company also placed third among the top-100 energy companies listed in the Inc. 500 rankings. The company’s 2005 and 2008 sales were $889,915 and $25.9 million, respectively, with total revenue growth during that three-year period of 2,813 percent.
To arrive at its 2009 list of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies, the Inc. 500 measured revenue growth from 2005 through 2008.
Enalasys achieved several other significant growth milestones from 2005 through 2008:
• Qualified contractors in the Enalasys network increased from 30 to 365.
• Certified technicians performing energy-efficiency jobs within the network increased from 145 to 1,991.
• The technicians completed 12,100 energy efficiency tests in 2005 and completed 219,766 tests in 2008.
• Enalasys saw its employee headcount increase from four in 2005 to 47 in 2008.
• In 2008, the company’s energy-efficiency work provided 100,000 kW and 179 million kWh of measured, verified energy savings.
“Enalasys is well positioned for growth within the energy-efficiency diagnostic space as the Inc. 500 rankings attest,” said Eric Taylor, president and CEO, Enalasys Corp. “In 2004, we understood the importance that efficiency would play in the energy sector and took the necessary steps to connect our proprietary technologies to meet growing demand within the government, business, and consumer segments.”
Enalasys provides measurement and data verification services, enabling contractors, utilities, and government agencies in their energy efficiency efforts. The company provides intelligent diagnostic verification software and total data-gathering solutions that manage and maximize energy efficiency and demand-supply side power usage and resource allocation.
For more information, visit www.enalasys.com.
Publication date: 12/28/2009