Although I am not a wholehearted subscriber to the “sky is falling due to CO2” doctrine, I am learning new things about the environment that seem to be based in solid science. Take the Hawthorne Effect for example. Coined from a behavioral study done between 1924 and 1932 of the factory workers at Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Ill., scientists learned that the workers automatically improved the behaviors being measured strictly because they were being measured. This observed phenomenon has potential for environmental advances, especially when it comes to built environment applications. Once the HVACR industry began measuring IAQ, duct leakage, and now usage patterns, etc., it found ways to improve system efficiency via controls and more advanced equipment. Applying the ideas of the Hawthorne Effect to the environment has, on some levels, improved HVACR efficiency and resource usage.

Another new term I have recently learned is biomimicry. In essence, it is the imitation of nature, which operates in cycles. As an industrial throwaway society, we primarily operate in a straight line, not a circle, according to The Story of Stuffat I have been known to use the phrase “tree hugger”, but this video’s scientific argument discussing the industrial process is the first piece of environmentalist information that actually made logical, scientific sense.

These environmental problems have been identified for a long time, but the most effective solutions are complex and an overall solution will likely require a new step in foundational productivity. I learned this phrase during Daryll Fogal’s keynote technology address at the Honeywell Users Group Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. Fogal, Honeywell Building Solutions’ vice president of Engineering and Technology, explained that when “you build stuff and it stays built, that is foundational productivity.” It helps slow down the industrial line on which society is currently stuck.

The three terms - Hawthorne effect, biomimicry, and foundational productivity - are finding a place in the HVACR industry as it endeavors to improve efficiencies from manufacturing to installation to preventive maintenance.

I am not quite ready to give up my plastic water bottles and grocery bags…but I’m thinking about it.