Making Fence-Sitting an Art Form

November 17, 2008
John R. Hall

Hey Murph, how does the top of the fencepost feel when it rides up your, well, you know what? You can’t maintain a good argument by sitting on the fence. And you should know by now that I am not that type of thinker. It’s all black-and-white baby. No gray areas. Either green is greed or green is green. I think you have the whole thing wrong or twisted. Green is a means to be greedy, but it is not greedy in and of itself.

Didn’t your Mommy teach you not to waffle?

Oh well, I don’t want to waste my 750 words talking about your pratfalls, let me start by saying that the green movement is certainly all about the environment. A bunch of scientists and tree huggers did not start the movement thinking they were going to make money off of it (as foolish as that sounds). Our planet is heading for self-destruction and green is the way to slow down the process, although a lot of global politicians are doing their darndest to speed up our demise.


I will admit that I am very tired of green. It is as nauseating as “carbon footprint.” What the hell is a carbon footprint anyway? Call it what it is. It’s the environmental mess we leave behind when we are finished with something. Being green is a means to avoiding such a mess. And the HVACR trade can lead the way.

When we think of green technology, we think of sustainability and alternative energy sources. I happen to like the word sustainability a lot. I am thinking of naming my next pet that. To me, we as a trade should be preaching sustainability as the key to the green movement. We are the purveyors of the technology that will lead the world into a greener future.

We build and maintain equipment that consumes less fossil fuel than ever before, i.e., high-efficiency furnaces. We design hybrid systems that include radiant, solar, and electrical energy - all of which are renewable and sustainable. There is that word again.

We, as a trade, service this equipment and make sure it is used for what it was designed for and that it is performing in peak condition. This isn’t about greed - it’s about saving the planet, Mr. Murphy.

I know a lot of HVACR contractors, distributors, and manufacturers who dedicate their profession and reputation on going green. And a lot of them don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk.

These people know that the products they build and install consume up to 55 percent of total worldwide use of energy in residential and commercial buildings (give or take a few percentage points for lighting).

And with the increasing debate on global warming (no I won’t go off on a tangent here), it is estimated that 16 percent of all energy goes toward air conditioning across the globe.

I’d say that green is to HVACR what Fig is to Newton.


Based on some of the figures I just threw out, is it safe to assume that our trade is into green for the sake of greed? I emphatically think not.

Not only do we believe that it is fiscally and environmentally responsible to implement and support green buildings and sustainable energy sources, it is our unwritten duty to do so. I, like most people who read this column, am a parent or grandparent to the next generation of energy users. I want to save the planet for my kids. Forget about my own greed or selfishness. I’m sure the world will remain in its present form for at least another few decades.

Yes, there will be lots of money to be made off of the word green. It only makes sense. We all want to be paid for our work in saving the planet. Money is not our motivation, merely a byproduct of what will come out of being a truly green industry.

I look at contractors who are now shifting from the traditional “good-better-best” equipment option they used to give to their customers to a “good-better-best” energy-efficiency solution, which will take green to a whole new level.

To quote Murphy, taking this new green position becomes the “sole purpose of selling more stuff.”

Face it, green is not only the new buzzword; it is blowing greed right out of the water.

Stay on the fence Murph. It is so you.

Publication date: 11/17/2008
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