“We are very excited to come together as one industry at the first AHRI Annual Meeting,” said AHRI President Stephen Yurek. “This meeting is the culmination of the hard work, dedication, leadership, and foresight that our members have displayed throughout the merger process. It will be an excellent time for us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished during this first year, and to celebrate our merger and the promise it brings for the future of our industry.”
Taking advantage of the weather, attendees can participate in sailing, golf, shopping, and tennis before indulging in the “Taste of San Diego” welcome reception. Come Monday, however, the real work begins as manufacturers meet to discuss current and upcoming issues of the industry.
POLITICS AND HARMONYSome of the most pressing political matters confronting the industry and the nation are the ever-changing political climate and the election of a new president. Dr. Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, and a well-known political forecaster, will provide insights on the future of local, state, and national politics at the Annual Chairman’s Business Meeting Breakfast on Monday morning.
Following breakfast, manufacturers will begin participation in two days of 39 product section meetings. During these meetings, they will discuss, debate, and decide on actions to be taken for the rest of 2008 and into 2009. One of the topics to be addressed is certification harmonization, and according to Francis Dietz, AHRI vice president of public affairs, “This topic will be a big part of the discussion.” Due to the merger of the former Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA), AHRI currently has three different certification programs - ARI Performance Certified®, GAMA Efficiency Rating Certified, and I=B=R (for hydronic equipment). Each program has its own logo and remains supported by the merged association.
“The harmonization process will not likely be finished until sometime next year,” said Dietz. “But when complete, the harmonized certification program will be launched under one unified logo.”
In the interim, AHRI has combined ARI’s and GAMA’s separate online list of certified products into one directory at www.ahridirectory.org. This combined directory now provides access to all of the industry’s performance-certified equipment and components in one place.
“The ability to search for certified equipment from one easy-to-remember URL greatly enhances the directory’s usefulness,” said Yurek. “Before, technicians and consumers had to find certified central air conditioners in one directory and furnaces or boilers in another directory. Now, they can find all the information they need in one place.”
According to AHRI, from the directory homepage, users can search for equipment and components that span more than 30 different residential and commercial HVACR products. The site also contains an advanced search tool that allows users to identify equipment by product lines, certified ratings, and manufacturer or trade name.
Another topic that will be discussed is AHRI’s latest public affairs campaign, the 2 Degree Pledge. This initiative was launched Sept.15 in collaboration with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers; the Edison Electric Institute; the U.S. Energy Association; North American Technician Excellence; Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International; Refrigeration Service Engineers Society; and Vectren Corp.
The campaign asks consumers to consider making “2 degrees of difference” in their energy use, including, for example, upgrading to more efficient equipment, installing a programmable thermostat, ensuring proper maintenance and a quality installation of heating and air conditioning equipment, and adjusting thermostats.
“The 2 Degree Pledge underscores the importance of proper maintenance to saving energy,” said Colleen Hughes, AHRI director of communications. “For contractors, the campaign provides the credible backing of the campaign partners when they are promoting the value of maintenance agreements and a quality installation to their customers.”
Online, participating contractors will find a variety of customizable materials and resources that they can use to educate their customers and drive them to the campaign Website. On the campaign Website, consumers can take the 2 Degree pledge, download quality installation and maintenance checklists, learn about multiple green technologies, and access calculators and tools to help them determine ways to save more energy.
As part of this initiative, AHRI launched a successful media outreach campaign with print and broadcast stories reaching millions of consumers. The campaign’s spokespeople, during interviews, explained how consumers can stay warm and save energy and money despite expected high heating costs this winter.
Since the launch of the campaign, consumers from across the country have been taking the pledge and contractors have been signing on as campaign partners to take advantage of the resources it provides.
LOOKING AHEADCrystal balls and political pundits have yet to predict what the future holds for the HVACR industry, but AHRI is looking towards the future and crafting new strategies to prepare for the expected and the unexpected. Through global partnerships and a concentration on standards and certification globalization, AHRI is continuing to broaden its horizons as 2009 approaches. Looking further ahead to 2010, the association is preparing for the R-22 phase down by developing an informational Website for contractors, equipment owners, wholesalers, and consumers. This site is scheduled to launch by the end of the first quarter in 2009.