PHOENIX — Commercial building contractors traveled to Phoenix recently to attend the Honeywell Building Controls Systems 2013 Momentum Conference. The event included speakers, new product launches, and a well-attended tradeshow. The group received some positive news during the general session from American Institute of Architects (AIA) chief economist Kermit Baker. Baker said the construction industry was the last major sector of the economy to recover, but that it is recovering.

“We have been waiting a long time. The economy has been growing so slowly and job growth was so weak that companies had little need to add new facilities. It is beginning to get better for the industry, with residential construction emerging as the strongest sector.”

The economist pointed out that the gross domestic product grew at 2.2 percent in 2012 after growing at 1.8 percent in 2011. Baker does not expect it to be significantly better this year, but there are a number of items that are pointing upward.

Perhaps the most important is the Architecture Billing Index (ABI), an economic indicator that precedes nonresidential construction activity by nine to 12 months.

“The ABI over the last six months has been very positive. We have had momentum over the last five years, but it has been negative momentum,” said Baker. “We are finally starting to remember what positive momentum feels like.”

Baker told the Honeywell contractors that housing has been on the upturn for the last year due to the appreciation of housing prices and historically low financing costs.

There were 780,000 housing starts in 2012, which was a 28 percent increase from 2011. The projections are for there to be more than 1 million housing starts in 2013.

“But that is still well below our long-term trends, which are between 1.7 million and 1.8 million. That is what we were doing before. That won’t come back until 2016 at the earliest,” Baker said.

New Program

In addition to the speakers, Honeywell introduced some new products and training at the event. The manufacturer introduced the Energy and Environmental Optimization (EEO) program which certifies contractors to assess and recommend energy savings for commercial buildings while helping owners reduce a growing cost-driver.

The new EEO program will assist contractors in helping building owners manage fluctuating energy costs, stakeholder expectations, and regulatory or market mandates by utilizing Honeywell’s energy-efficiency products and solutions.

“Today’s energy costs are unstable and will likely continue to rise,” said Tom Rosback, general manager of commercial control systems at Honeywell. “Additionally, utility companies are billing customers based on energy demand and usage, while the government and market are mandating energy- efficiency action. Currently, 65 percent of commercial and industrial buildings were built before 1985 and lack energy efficiency. This is the equation that proves the need for a new breed of contractors who can show end-users the value of improving building functionality, meeting mandates, and increasing energy efficiency.”

The EEO program certification is comprised of two components: the EEO Toolset and the EEO Training Program. The EEO Toolset guides contractors through the process of assessing a building for energy savings. The PC-based software tool walks EEO-certified contractors through the prospecting, assessing, modeling, and proposal stages of the EEO life cycle. Used in conjunction with the EEO Training Program, Honeywell believes building owners have a reliable, cost-effective solution for their energy challenges. The EEO Training Program is comprised of e-Learning courses and an instructor-led energy sales training course to help building professionals seize opportunities that focus on energy and environmental optimization while managing their costs and environmental challenges.

“When the recession hit, I decided to grow my business by focusing on energy retrofits in commercial buildings,” said Rick Gorka, president and founder, Airon Group. “In the process of obtaining my own EEO certification, I found it is the perfect starting point for any contractor who wants to be in the energy retrofit business. Honeywell has the ability to provide the toolset, but more importantly the training that any contractor is going to need in order to provide an advantage over the competition in this marketplace.”

Mark Jewell, president and founder of the Energy Efficiency Funding Group (EEFG) will be part of the training program.

“In the old days all you needed was two parts charisma and one part product knowledge — that was sales. Now, forget about it. People think they can find more information about your product from the Internet than you. And, as for charisma, that is not necessarily where it is all at.”

Jewell believes you need a few items to sell efficiency effectively. One of the most important tools is a great elevator pitch.

“You need a 30-second speech that tells me how you will create value for me. Most people really stumble over this. You have to practice this. Don’t speak for a sentence or two without asking a question or pausing. Make it funny. Don’t use your last name as they won’t remember it anyway. Quickly get to the point and make sure you are telling their story and not your story,” Jewell said.

Fast Track Program

Honeywell also announced the launch of the new Fast Track Program, a project management and product specification tool for valve and actuator assemblies. Fast Track simplifies the ordering process by turning job estimates into orders and it ensures that Honeywell assembles the exact valve/actuator combination for accurate order delivery and easier installation.

“Because Honeywell offers valves and actuators for almost every application, selecting the right combination can be confusing,” said Barb Dean-Hendricks, Americas leader of global field devices at Honeywell. “Fast Track is a best-in-class program that adds consistency to the entire ordering and tracking process, from start to finish, making bidding, specifying, delivery, and installation on the job site easier and less costly for our customers.”

Honeywell’s Fast Track Program ensures that project information can be saved and easily edited; custom valve and actuator schedules can be created and imported into submittal documents; and project details can be transferred to other users for review, editing, approval, and ordering. The Smart Tag provides data for each valve/actuator configuration and ensures the configuration gets to the correct location, on time; and that tags can be scanned with a smartphone or tablet to show configuration information, technical specifications, and installation instructions.

Publication date: 5/6/2013 

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