President Joe Biden is suddenly showing a lot of interest in HVAC. Biden visited an HVAC laboratory at Tidewater Community College in Virginia in early May. A week and a half earlier, he presented Johnson Controls CEO George Oliver as a speaker at the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate April 22. Both events were designed to advance the administration’s policy goals.

The President and first lady Jill Biden, who has a doctorate in education, received a first-hand look at how future HVAC technicians learn their trade. Instructor Harlan Krepcik explained how the first-year students were learning how to use instruments to measure a system’s current.

“If they master these things, they’ll have a durable, competitive advantage in the job market,” Krepcik told the President. “We need skilled technicians, and the challenge we face is that the public views the trades as a last choice. Many students would do well coming to community college and getting the hands-on training necessary to enter the skilled trades.”

Tidewater offers a three-semester certification program and a four-semester degree program. Krepcik shared that one of his current students is the brother of one of the Air Force One pilots.

After the tour, the Bidens spoke to a crowd that included college staff, politicians, and the press. President Biden laid out his plan to provide two years of community college free to every high school graduate, as well as older workers in need of new skill training. He said this was necessary to keep up with other countries in the global economy.

“We’re in a race,” Biden said. “It all starts with access to good education. Any country that outeducates us will outcompete us. That’s why we need two years of free community college.”

Biden also wants to expand Pell Grants to help students pay for other needs, such as transportation and food. He also wants to expand preschool and child care so parents can pursue their degrees without having to worry about where to put their kids.


Johnson Controls CEO Says Reducing Emissions Good for Planet, Saves Money

The topic at the April 22 event was the environment. Oliver said the leadership at Johnson Controls is eager to drive harder and faster to cut the 40% of greenhouse gases that come from buildings.

“The good news is that when we do that, the upgrades pay for themselves,” he said, “because we are cutting energy waste.”

Oliver chairs the Business Roundtable Energy and Environment Committee. He works with more than 200 of the nation’s largest employers to develop policies that reduce carbon emissions in a way that benefits communities and workers.

“Business Roundtable believes that a comprehensive, market-based policy can spur innovations, ensure equity, and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Oliver said. “Importantly, Business Roundtable knows that business and government must work together and lead by example to meet the scope of the challenge. In fact, the vast majority of Business Roundtable CEOs have pledged to reduce their emissions, with nearly half committed to achieving net-zero emissions in their companies by 2050 or sooner.”

He said sustainability is Johnson Controls’ business and that the company is dedicated to achieving net-carbon-zero status by 2040. Earlier in the Summit, Biden called for 4 million buildings to be revamped to reduce emissions. Oliver said the management at Johnson Controls knows that goal is achievable. He said not doing so would create acclimate hazard and waste money.

Oliver said that Johnson Controls has worked with its customers to cut emissions by more than 30 million tons, saving those customers $6 billion.

“So, we think it is clear: Driving sustainability and tackling climate change is a collective effort,” Oliver said. “At the Business Roundtable and Johnson Controls, we know that when we take this challenge on, we will cut emissions and costs, create good jobs, and build resilient, healthy infrastructure.”