Purpose, Pride, and Persona: IE3 and Me
Buildings are the number one user of energy, and indoor environment systems are the number one user of energy in buildings: the #1 in the #1. The very reason a building is constructed is to contain an indoor environment. The Indoor Environment and Energy Efficiency (IE3) industry should be seen as the leading expert source for all building systems. So, our industry needs to do a better job of marketing ourselves and our IE3 message to the government, consumers, students, and to our businesses. Certainly, no one else is going to do it.
As an industry, we are providing for the comfort, health, and safety of our community and coworkers, including protecting and nurturing their economic well-being. Our services and products are essential to virtually every single business enterprise in our country. As pervasive and essential as our industry’s role is in the community, we don’t project a cohesive and attractive persona, and this is what we must work together to change. A strong industry identity gives our industry’s members pride and purpose. The better businesses we become, the better it is for our industry as a whole.
We Must Evolve
To do this, we must take an evolutionary path. Let me explain. When I started in the industry, it was called “HVAC.” Today, we’ve evolved into so much more than just HVAC, now we look at the entire building we are working in. Whether it is a home, office, lab, school, or apartment complex; we are seeking solutions outside of the box to meet the comfort needs and demands of our customers. We are problem solvers and there is no other industry that is better primed to find these solutions for our customers.
As contractors, we need to be the ones who own the indoor environment of every building we work in and be accepted as the experts that should be called if there are any problems. We do not offer plug-and-run products. Not just “anybody” can do what we do without training. Our offerings require system design and professional installation by technical experts. As an industry, we have been making significant headway into standardized design, installation, and service techniques. ACCA has supported us in this evolution through developing ANSI standards, working with code officials, and by offering top-notch training opportunities.
And since we’ve already evolved in what we do, it’s time the name of our industry evolves as well. This name evolution can have a remarkable impact on our ability to draw talent into our industry, which as we all know is not always easy. Look at it this way, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10-year projected rate of growth for all occupations is 15%, while the projected rate of growth for our industry is 34%, over twice the rate for all combined occupations. At current demand, we are having a hard time finding talent. If we don’t make the changes now to stay relevant to those entering the workforce, how are we going to meet an even higher demand? As we develop a more appropriate identity, we will have a much broader appeal to prospects and draw in new talent. A strong industry identity gives our industry’s members pride and purpose. Don’t you think working in “IE3” sounds more attractive to younger workers than working in “HVAC?”
This evolution creates a classic win-win-win situation. Our consumers stand to reap health, safety, and economic benefits. Our co-workers will be able to earn a great living and have a sense of pride in their profession. Our businesses will continue to grow and we will be able to bring more people into an industry we love and take a lot of pride in. This all can be achieved from creating a more cohesive industry.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
I have always loved this quote, but I think it is just as fitting for businesses as it is for individuals. We have to look at ourselves and our industry now, and envision where we want to be in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years and sow the seeds now for a successful harvest in the future.
As contractors, ACCA members, and individuals; we have begun the work to define our ever evolving persona. Now that we know who we are, and how we want to be seen, we need to make sure that the rest of the world knows, too.
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