A growing number of building owners are looking to design buildings that produce as much energy as they consume each year. These so-called zero-net-energy (ZNE) buildings may sound like a pipe dream, but they’ve already become a reality in many parts of the U.S. and around the world.
It seems many HVAC contractors are feeling positive about the year ahead, at least according to ACCA, which reported its January 2015 Contractor Comfort Index (CCI) scored a 74 — much higher than a year earlier when the CCI stood at 69.
The latest report from Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) showed that average sales for HARDI distributor members increased 9.4 percent in November 2014, but that annualized growth through November was 6.9 percent, which is where it was throughout 2014.
Year-to-date combined shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps increased 11.1 percent, and U.S. shipments of gas warm air furnaces increased 5.1 percent over the same period in 2013 (oil warm air furnaces increased 8 percent).
To figure out which efficiency improvements make the most sense, owners usually turn to HVAC professionals to conduct comprehensive energy audits, which are used to thoroughly evaluate existing mechanical systems. While energy audits have traditionally occurred on-site, some firms are offering virtual energy audits.