Projected growth in the IAQ market. (Courtesy of AirAdvice.)
In the course of our travels, members ofThe Newsstaff often speak with influential industry leaders. Today, we share with you some comments from Jim Crowder, chief executive officer of AirAdvice Inc.

The News: How big is the indoor air quality (IAQ) problem in the United States?

Crowder: We know that unhealthy indoor air is a very real problem for many of our customers. IAQ problems exist in at least one of six tested categories in over 96 percent of homes tested, according to AirAdvice IAQ findings, based on over 10,000 IAQ tests conducted in 2004.

What's more, we know our customers are eager for cleaner, healthier air. After all, it's their demands that have driven the huge profit hikes in the in-room "air cleaner" industry, despite the fact that these devices have been proven ineffective. Ionizing air cleaners account for about 25 percent of the roughly $410 million Americans spend on air cleaners each year [Consumers Union, April 2005].

Jim Crowder
The News:Why aren't members of the HVAC industry out there in droves ensuring our customers' health and comfort by diagnosing and solving their IAQ problems?

Crowder: That's a good question. We've got the certifications, the dedication, the experience. We've got the tools to objectively and specifically diagnose IAQ problems in a home, and we've got the equipment that provides effective solutions.

Just like any other HVAC problem, we can find IAQ issues and we can fix them - because that's what we do. The better we filter, condition, and provide fresh air, the better the quality of our customer's air. We move it, they breathe it.

And we're local. Our customers are our friends, our neighbors, our family, our community. It's the HVAC contractors of North America who are in the best position to solve IAQ problems for the people we care about. No one else comes close.

The News: How do HVAC contractors identify which customers need healthy IAQ?

Crowder: Over and over, we hear about HVAC contractors' customers who have been on medications for years, with children who couldn't play sports because of severe asthma, who never understood why they couldn't sleep through the night without coughing or why they woke up stuffy and tired every morning. Then, after their HVAC contractor found an IAQ problem and addressed it, these customers experienced a startling turnaround in their health and comfort.

If you aren't already hearing these kinds of testimonials from your customers - and I assure you that with nearly 75 percent of Americans living with someone who suffers from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illness, they're out there - now's the time to take action for them.

On every service call, ask ‘Who in the home suffers from asthma or allergies?' In a majority of cases, you'll get an answer. Then you're in position to help that customer by finding and fixing any IAQ problems they may have.

The News: Should each HVAC contractor have IAQ "specialists" on staff?

Crowder: My call to action to the HVAC contractor community is this: make today the day that you designate someone in your company to be responsible for IAQ. Wherever you're at, whatever size business you run, you can - and should - do this. It's the basic first step to creating an IAQ business segment that not only addresses all the industry challenges we know are out there, but, far more importantly, takes care of our customers - our friends, neighbors, and members of our community.

Let's not allow ourselves to suffer the same fate as the plumbing industry. That industry handed customer demand for pure, filtered water right over to the retail segment and only now are attempting to make headway back into that lucrative market that should have been theirs in the first place.

Like HVAC contractors with regard to our customers' indoor air quality, plumbers were the people most qualified to deal with their customers' water supply quality - but they lost out due to lack of action.

AirAdvice Inc., headquartered in Portland, Oregon, developed its HVAC-IAQ Program to enable HVAC contractors to successfully diagnose IAQ problems and recommend the right filtration, ventilation, and humidification solutions, as well as traditional heating and cooling solutions. The patented AirAdvice monitors take the guesswork out of identifying IAQ problems and provide independent reports to help contractors correctly identify IAQ problems and comfort issues. For more information, visit

Publication date: 06/27/2005