Each year the HVAC industry proves to be diverse, resilient, and ever changing. The year 2007 was no different as multiple events spurred change and helped establish new trends. Energy-efficient products, for example, gained ground in the residential sector. Citing an unprecedented mid-year report compiled by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), the average SEER rating for unitary air conditioners sold through June was 13.66.

Green initiatives took flight as well, especially when former President Bill Clinton stepped to a podium in New York City to convene the C-40 Large Cities Climate Summit. In effect, he opened the door for expanded opportunities for HVAC contractors in areas ranging from the installation of new energy-efficient equipment to major retrofits, with a special emphasis on performance contracting.

As inventory questions rose and foreign markets challenged U.S. business success, the last of the room air conditioner manufacturing facilities left the United States. Friedrich Air Conditioning Co., based in San Antonio, moved production of room air conditioners from its San Antonio plant to the company’s facility in Monterrey, Mexico.

Sustainability became a major buzzword in the industry last year. According to many involved in HVACR, including contractors and manufacturers, “sustainability” is on track to become what energy conservation was during the 1970s, recovery-recycling in the 80s, brownouts-blackouts in the 90s, and 13 SEER in recent years. Al Gore took the podium multiple times to address global warming and so did DuPont Fluoroproducts. The company made bold statements recognizing many current HFCs as contributors to the global warming situation. It also noted increasing pressure to further regulate HFCs and industry efforts to find refrigerants with lower global warming potential - all while the industry geared up for the approaching 2010 refrigerant changeover deadline.

Diversity became an increasingly common topic as 2007 progressed. The number of Hispanic workers in the construction trades steadily rose and it is predicted that those numbers will continue to do so in 2008.

Two of the industry’s most influential manufacturing associations reached a historic merger that creates a powerful advocacy for the trade. The boards of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) approved the merger and sent the proposal for a vote. The end result is the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a larger, combined group of manufacturers that collectively wield greater leverage on Capitol Hill and enhance domestic HVAC positions in the global economy.

“As an industry, we faced technology changes, political changes, manpower shortages, and the list goes on,” summed up Ken Bodwell, CFO and partner, Innovative Service Solutions, Orlando, Fla.

The HVACR industry has made it through another year and in spite of leveling markets, shifting trends, and legislation based initiatives, the industry is still plugging towards new horizons in 2008.

For the full story about these top stories, see the following Web Exclusive articles:

ARI and GAMA Joined Forces

Cultural Diversity Tested Industry Flexibility

Gearing Up for Refrigerant Phaseout

Green Markets Open Up

Higher SEERs Got Popular

Industry Challenged on All Fronts

Room A/C Manufacturer Headed South

Sustainability Became the New SEER

Publication Date: 12/24/2007