Early predictions are this is going to be a solid year for the commercial HVAC market. The ACHR NEWS wanted to get a look at the commercial side of the business so we sat down with Michael Daly.

Daly is the Chief Technology Officer for ECM Technologies. The company partners with HVAC service providers to help building owners improve energy efficiency and sustainability.

“With the HVAC market continuing to expand at 4% year over year, while equipment supplies are delayed and becoming more expensive, the focus on proactive maintenance will highlight another market shortcoming; the availability of qualified service technicians.”
- Michael Daly
chief technology officer, ECM Technologies

ACHR NEWS: Where does increased efficiency rank for commercial owners when discussing HVAC equipment?

Michael Daly: Our recent experience has shown that the commercial owners are extremely focused on increased efficiency, especially as it ties into their ability to reduce the annual cost of operations. However, commercial owners are equally focused on ways to extend the life of their current equipment and defer planned capital expenditures. Being able to extend equipment life, even for a year or two past their expected replacement cycle, has tremendous value and is an area of increased interest for building owners.


ACHR NEWS: What kind of ROI are they expecting?

Michael Daly: They are typically interested in making investments that meet their efficiency/carbon reduction strategies and can be recaptured within a two-to-three-year period of operation.


ACHR NEWS: How can HVAC contractors meet these goals?

Michael Daly: The HVAC contractors are in the best position to educate the consumer on new and emerging technologies, which can provide increased operating efficiency and a reduction of carbon emissions. The best contractors are moving their clients toward predictive and proactive maintenance programs. As the ability to gather operational data becomes more commonplace, the contractors are able to interpret and act on the data in an efficient and proactive manner. Rather than reacting to problems, they are now able to employ predictive maintenance as necessary to keep systems operating at peak efficiency while minimizing unexpected downtime.


ACHR NEWS: How do government incentives help and/or hurt this process?

Michael Daly: Having some type of mechanism to assist with the cost of implementing any type of emerging technology will always help with the rate of adoption and is an added incentive for progressive minded owners. History has taught us this fact; if you reflect on how the rate of adoption of technologies such as solar and electric vehicles were affected by rebates and tax credits, you will agree that they help greatly with the early adoption of new technologies.


ACHR NEWS: Is decarbonization the answer and, if so, how do we get there?

Michael Daly: If all building owners and managers pursued a decarbonization agenda, they won’t necessarily solve all of their problems. However, they will find many ancillary benefits in the form of reduced operating costs and extended equipment life. Reducing your carbon footprint with a product like ThermaClear™ doesn’t have to be an entirely altruistic pursuit; it can come with a positive impact to your bottom line as well.


ACHR NEWS: How do you see the commercial market going for the rest of 2023?

Michael Daly: The COVID-19 related supply chain issues and related price increases affecting the HVAC industry are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, there will be continued emphasis on proactive equipment maintenance. Those maintenance companies that have the ability to advance purchase and store key equipment and parts would be well served to do so.


ACHR NEWS: What should HVAC contractors prepare for?

Michael Daly: With the HVAC market continuing to expand at 4% year over year, while equipment supplies are delayed and becoming more expensive, the focus on proactive maintenance will highlight another market shortcoming; the availability of qualified service technicians. Service contractors will need to focus on training, recruiting and retention in order to keep up with the increased service demand. With many new products and technologies hitting the market, it will take a well-trained workforce to accurately assess system needs, educate the client on available options, and then deploy effective solutions.


ACHR NEWS: How does the IAQ trend factor in to the equation?

Michael Daly: Living through and responding to the COVID-19 related focus on air quality has greatly increased demand for HVAC system air quality products, albeit somewhat slowed post pandemic. Building occupants are more aware of IAQ, necessitating building owners to consider implementing such products. The connection between air quality product demand and general system efficiency may come in the form of how available dollars are allocated to each need. How owners prioritize their available HVAC budget will have some impact on the air quality spending trend. The increased costs and limited availability of equipment may cause owners to focus their spending on general maintenance and products that extend their equipment life, rather than making large investments in air quality products. This will be an interesting topic for us to keep our eye on.