ATLANTA — New and enhanced consumer incentives, the moves toward electrification and greater energy efficiency, and the introduction of low-GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants mean huge opportunities in HVACR, a top manufacturing executive told a group of contractors Tuesday morning.

Chris Forth, vice president of codes, standards and environmental affairs at Johnson Controls Inc., said contractors can turn government mandates, like energy-efficiency minimums and the coming refrigerant transition, to their advantage; boost installations with the help of considerable tax incentives and point-of-sale consumer rebates; and rely on improving technologies like cold-climate heat pumps as energy efficiency becomes more of a national priority.

Forth spoke at the Georgia World Congress Center on the second day of the AHR Expo, which featured more than 1,700 exhibits and close to 300 educational sessions and brought together thousands of people from the HVACR industry.

Forth called the Federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes billions in incentives for electrification and high-efficiency products, the greatest investment in HVAC in the history of the industry. In all, the IRA directs $369 billion toward energy security and fighting climate change — including by incentivizing efficiency, electrification, and renewable sources of electricity.

"It will affect each of you in this room either directly or indirectly," Forth said.

Not all incentive programs have been completely detailed, however, Forth said. "They're going to hand those to the states to administer," he said. "That means fifty states, fifty different programs — and six territories."

Contractors, he said, need to stay aware of what equipment qualifies for incentives as they pitch their products. In some cases, he said, federal incentives may be combined with state or even utility company incentives to maximize consumers' savings.

The refrigerant transition, Forth said, will come just a few years after the transition to the current refrigerants, and will mean the introduction of new equipment lines. “Every one of those will have to be launched with a new low-GWP refrigerant,” he said.