Can You Fix This?


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As those of us in the west are suffering through what may one of the most extensive and dramatic heat waves for many years, the question being asked quite frequently is, “Can you fix that?” followed immediately by a frantic “When!!!”

While the necessity of fixing it is paramount during a heat wave, we find ourselves in furiously reactive mode, begging our technicians for just one more call (and I promise you can start at 8AM instead of 6:30 tomorrow morning if you stay with this one until midnight….promise) . It is compiled seconds of urgency backed on hours of sweat and heat leading us to forget all about building performance and concentrate on the gear…yet again.

Even the sales staff is fit with responding to the tyranny of the moment, and throws testing and pressure relationships out the window in the midst of getting the compressor found for that dead system. Sizing, engineering and systems analysis goes out the window – literally and figuratively. Temptations to throw in attic fans to satiate that beleaguered only to remember the patent evils of such things once you have the order committed (shame on those of us that know better.)

Granted, in the midst of managing crisis you are not going to get a willing ear from virtually anybody to talk about weatherization, caulking, sealing, insulation, and can lights, but if we are truly marching to the beat of true building performance drum, shouldn’t we? Or perhaps with less guilt, couldn’t we?

I will openly confess that I’m coming at this from both a residential and commercial perspective. Both sides suffer from similar urgency in heat wave mentality, but we do tend to have questions built on a different paradigm when discussing a potential system replacement. The pressing need for comfort always tends to push us into installing new compressors on 30 year units all too often. When in fact we should step up our consulting sales efforts to at least lay out a plan for the future including improved energy efficiency, performance, and I hope to shout RIGHT SIZING OF EQUIPMENT for the CURRENT APPLICATION.

Last month’s article by Steve Saunders of Tempo Mechanical, resonates strongly with our team here at Entek. We have been actively involved in the building performance arena on the  residential side for roughly 6 years, and truly dedicated to it for the last four. That has grown from 5% of our overall business to a robust 20+% and we anticipate further growth in that area. Overall residential work had ranged from 22-28% historically and is now hovering at 35% with a larger piece being affiliated with building performance. That being said we always perceived ourselves as a system sales team with a strong engineered solutions mentality. But I must tell you that our education in the Building Performance arena finds us well short of that mark in terms of the whole building as a system.

We are finding that in general, that while residential structures may vary widely in terms of construction type, especially in our region, most of our solutions seem to be a version from a fairly programmed menu. What we have found in the commercial world is that the variation in construction types, often requires a completely new menu and much of that starts with how you actually test a larger envelope and the amount of equipment needed. While we are still scratching our heads over the way to approach some of our long existing commercial/industrial clients, we do indeed find that our infant knowledge from the basics in BPC, have led us to some significantly simple yet elegant solutions.

This is not to impress with anything other than, reinforcing that we in the HVAC community are and should be at the forefront of all BPC activity both residential and commercial. We should confidently explore and apply what we know that we do indeed know, and continue to learn and grow from one another to maintain and further our foothold as the leaders in this industry. One way to accomplish this is by seeking educational opportunities like those that will be presented by contractors just like you at this year’s 2nd annual Building Performance Forum in Austin, TX. Registration is now open, and you should be making your plans to be there with other industry leaders to expand and build upon what you already may know, and get the traction your need to move forward to your rightful place in the broadening array of business opportunities in Building Performance Contracting.

Matt Todd
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Posted In: Building Performance, Customer Service, Residential Buildings

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