ACCA, a nonprofit indoor environment and energy services association, is devoted to promoting professional contracting; energy efficiency; and healthy, comfortable environments. That message will continue to ring true in 2014, as the organization furthers its work to overcome the many challenges set before its contracting members.
The biggest issues of 2013 revolved around what was happening in Washington, where lawmakers squabbled about issues that could have a lasting impact on the HVACR industry.
Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, ACCA, said the biggest highlight of 2013 was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacating the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) regional furnace standards, which vindicated ACCA’s opposition to the proposed ruling. Although the settlement is not final, Stalknecht is hopeful it will be soon, bringing closure to the case.
Ultimately, Stalknecht mentioned that the real problem resides with the infighting in Washington.
“The biggest legislative challenge is dealing with a dysfunctional Congress that cannot pass bipartisan energy-efficiency legislation or pro small business tax breaks that can benefit HVACR contractors,” Stalknecht said. “We need more contractors to get involved in the legislative process, at both the national and state levels.”
A bright spot in Washington, though, was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) handling of the R-22 allocation for 2013 and 2014, bringing a welcome change for many.
“It included an unexpected increase in the supply that settled some of the price fluctuations and inventory concerns,” Stalknecht said, but he noted it wasn’t all positive on the refrigerant front. “More concerning was the revelation about illegal and counterfeit refrigerants making their way to market and the sale of hydrocarbon compounds intended to be used as refrigerants.”
Stalknecht said 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for refrigerants, with the EPA expected to finalize the rule which sets the final allocation in the phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), while also taking the steps to regulate hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants under the Clean Air Act and Section 608.
Even though some movement is being made in Washington, Stalknecht was quick to point out that 2014 is an election year, “so don’t expect any changes to the gridlock that keeps Congress from moving anything controversial,” he said. He noted the main focus in the election will be on the Senate, where Republicans could take the majority, as Democrats are defending many races where the incumbents are vulnerable.
Although some uncertainty still lingers into 2014, Stalknecht said, contractors are as confident as they’ve been in years. The association’s Contractor Comfort Index (CCI) reached an all-time high of 77 in both May and June and remained well above 2012 levels for much of the year.
“Overall, our contractor members had a very successful year in 2013,” Stalknecht said. “Business began booming for many members right after the 2012 elections, and, according to our CCI, contractors have remained positive in their outlook all year. The CCI broke records, indicating that contractors felt more positive than the last three years.”
ACCA has continued to look for ways to allow its members to get more bang for their buck. This year, Stalknecht is working to make that vision a reality.
“ACCA is moving aggressively to expand its services and benefits for the indoor environment contracting industry,” Stalknecht said. “ACCA’s new online platform allows contractors to connect with their peers online from all over the country to share ideas and best practices.
“In February, we dramatically expanded membership benefits, granting access to hundreds of online training videos that are now included as part of ACCA membership. Our board is focused like a laser beam on providing contractors with tools and resources they can use to improve their operations, grow their profits, and take advantage of new business opportunities.”
ACCA remains committed to helping contractors find the right training and accreditations they need. That’s why the association expanded its Quality Assured (QA) program in 2013, adding the Residential Service & Installation (RSI) accreditation program, which will join the already established QA New Homes program. One does not have to be an ACCA member to join the QA programs, and single-fee pricing was just rolled out for those looking to do both.
“It is a very rigorous program that separates those contractors who truly follow standards from the rest,” Stalknecht said. “Our accreditation programs will continue to play a major role in our board’s goal to offer true differentiation for quality contractors.”
ACCA also launched a new website in February, one of the many things ACCA is embarking on this year to help contractors get even more out of their memberships, Stalknecht said. That includes a recently launched Member Service Center that offers numerous online resources, including access to nearly 200 seminars and training programs developed exclusively for ACCA.
Although ACCA is working hard in Washington to be the voice of the contractor, Stalknecht said the efforts of the contractor cannot be understated.
“Contractors are always concerned with government regulations and oversight,” Stalknecht said. “We’ve seen a lot of this over the past few years, and we don’t see it slowing down at all. We encourage all of our members to get involved on the local, state, and national level. While we work on many fronts to be the voice for them, the effort our contractors put forth really make the difference.”
2014 will play a pivotal role in ACCA’s continued transformation as the association continues its push to find new ways to reach and help its membership.
“As the largest contracting organization in the country, our members themselves are our greatest resource, and we are engaging new media platforms to help our members help each other,” Stalknecht said.
Publication date: 3/17/2014