HFC Emissions Are Actually Increasing, Plus the Future of Refrigerants

Ideally, after the global phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant gases, we would all transition to a refrigerant technology that would never have to be replaced again. Climate hawks often describe hydrofluorocarbons as a kind of white rhino, a rare area of policy that everyone — industry, environmentalists, Democrats, Republicans — can agree on.

After replacing HFCs, some are trying to sell the idea that it is possible come up with a “future-proof” solution that would ensure no further disruptions or further regulations. In reality, it’s unrealistic to think that there is a silver bullet of refrigerants.

INCREASING EMISSIONS

According to a new study by the journal Nature Communications, hydrofluorocarbon emissions actually appear to be growing at record values. The study contradicts previous predictions that hydrofluorocarbon emissions would drop by around 90% from 2015 to 2017.

Two years after China and India pledged to reduce HFC emissions in factories that produce the gas, the countries reported that they had almost wholly eliminated HFC-23 emission. However, in 2018, not only did HFC-23 emissions increase, but they reached an all-time high. Why is this? The study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported. Without additional measurements, it is hard to know whether India has been able to implement its abatement programme.

Expectedly, the new findings have a massive implication on the Kigali Amendment. While the Kigali amendment does not yet bind China and India, their reported reduction would have put them on course to be consistent with Kigali. Had the emissions reductions been as large as reported, the researchers estimate that the equivalent of a whole year of Spain’s CO2 emissions could have been avoided between 2015 and 2017. However, it looks like there is still work to do.

HFC ALTERNATIVES

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were invented in the 1930s, and due to their safety and efficiency, became the standard. In the 1980s, as their negative environmental impact on the ozone layer became known, the industry met the challenge with HFCs, which have no ozone layer impact. Today’s challenge is to address HFCs’ potential climate impact. Once again, the industry is ready to provide safer and more efficient solutions.

The new generation of choices available today all have a reduced impact on climate, but also come with their set of drawbacks. All of them, including those marketed as “natural refrigerants,” are in fact factory-made. Ammonia and HFOs are synthesized in chemical reactors. Hydrocarbons are petrochemicals produced by cracking in oil and gas refineries, and CO2is a purified industrial gas. Ammonia is highly toxic, hydrocarbons are highly explosive, and CO2 requires very high operating pressure, complicated controls, and may not be efficient in all climates. All must also be further refined to meet the purity requirements of today’s equipment. All consume raw materials and energy and produce waste when manufactured. All must be packaged and transported. The user must decide which trade-offs they can accommodate to best meet their needs.

THE FUTURE

Can any of the above solutions provide us with a future free of disruption? If you have to deal with ammonia leaks, hydrocarbon-related explosions, systems breaking down, or complex systems that are hard for users to adopt or transition to, your business will be disrupted. Although we know the global HVACR industry will continue to improve, it’s impossible to call any solution “future proof”. New scientific advancements, along with progress in the industry will continue to push new innovations forward in order to maximize equipment efficiency, while keeping a focus on safety and the environment.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Insect Protein: A New HVACR Opportunity

If HVAC contractors found meeting the demands of cannabis growers challenging, wait until they start working in the latest growing field — insect protein. The edible insect industry is projected to be reach $1.336 billion by 2025, and could be worth $8 billion by 2030. Roughly 2 billion people in 130 countries, including Kenya, Thailand and Mexico, already regularly eat insects. 

People generally associate the word “insect” with something disgusting. But many insects are incredibly nutritious, and a key, sustainable solution to help us tackle food shortages, global warming, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The meat industry already takes an enormous toll on the environment, gobbling up huge amounts of land and water. To put it in perspective, to produce one pound of beef, you need around 5,000 gallons of water, whereas to produce one pound of cricket protein, you need less than 5 gallons of water.

For the most part, feed insects need to breed indoors, and this comes with very exact HVAC requirements. In conventional animal farming, heating or cooling is normally provided just to prevent exposure to extreme conditions; in insect farming, it is a requirement to ensure productivity. As these insect protein businesses scale up, HVAC will be one of their main challenges.

HEATING AND COOLING

To keep the temperature at the required level, several elements could be used depending on the requirements of the insect species. Each species of insect comes with its own requirements. For example, crickets need a temperature of 85°F and 30-40 percent humidity. However, in order for insects to become a viable food source for people and animals, they need to grow everywhere. This means replicating the natural conditions in which the insects grow.  

There are various devices that can be implemented for insect mass rearing. This includes water heating systems like storage tank water heaters, on demand water heaters, heat pump water heaters, hybrid heat pump water heaters, hot-water supply boilers, and a combination of them. If heating is provided from the floor (eg, through hot water piping), the heat will distribute uniformly in the room by lifting the hot air from the base to the top. But if heat is to be distributed by air, this can be done using hot-water heat exchangers. Construction of this type of system is costly, but when heating requirements are high, this is one of the most commonly used systems.

Air conditioners or heat pumps could be used either to heat or to cool down rooms. Heat pumps are often used in insect mass rearing facilities because, in addition to being energy efficient, they can be used for cooling and heating using one single device and are easy to implement in climate automatization systems. Implementation cost is high but they are very flexible and have a fast reaction to changes. One of the latest innovations in heat pumps is the use of geothermal energy (geothermal heat pumps). They save energy but are more expensive due to ground perforations required for installation of the geothermic heat exchanger.

THE FUTURE

Right now, the industry consists of a lot of small players, although there are some large U.S. companies, such as Aspire Food Group. As a result, most improvise their HVAC systems using off-the-shelf technology. Although climate control is a must for these companies, it’s also a major investment for a low-margin business. This makes investing in necessarily robust systems a challenge. The low margins also means farm owners have concerns about energy efficiency and other ways to control costs.

Vendors interested in pursuing this industry need to understand these concerns, along with specific requirements of breeding. If they do so, it could mean a lot of potential work for HVAC contractors who aren’t bugged by working with bugs. There is huge potential in this marketplace, and as planet earth warms and the population grows toward 10 billion people by 2050, we will need to rethink our approach to food production. Insects might just be the solution we’ve been looking for.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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New Release: FIELDBOSS 3.0 for HVAC Contractors

FIELDBOSS 3.0 is now available for new and existing HVAC customers!

With version 3.0 FIELDBOSS customers are now able to manage progress billing for construction projects and inventory stock levels within the system much more efficiently.

In addition to the two major functionality improvements, version 3.0 adds new features and performance enhancements that continue to streamline HVAC contractor business processes.

FIELDBOSS 3.0 for HVAC, key enhancements include:

Progress Billing

New to FIELDBOSS HVAC, Progress Billing allows project ‘phases’ to be tracked and billed as work on the phase progresses, with the system automatically managing retainage (holdback) for phases in accordance with AIA standards. This new feature also allows an ‘Application for Payment’ to be generated and sent to the customer, which can be adjusted at any time.

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New Inventory Functionality

FIELDBOSS 3.0 introduces support for inventory management integrated with Dynamics GP. New functionality allows customers to view stock levels at warehouse locations directly in Dynamics 365, and mark inventory items as allocated once the Work Order is created. Once an item is out of stock, users can receive a warning when placing a Work Order for these items.

Wage Categories

Version 3.0 extends the innovative functionality released in previous versions to further optimize the Service Activity feature by providing the ability to ensure compliance with ‘Prevailing Wages’ as required by law and/or contractual agreement. When a Time Card is completed, FIELDBOSS will use the appropriate “burdened cost” for job costing purposes. This feature is an optional extension of Labor Rate tables and can be setup and used only if needed for a specific Work Order or Project.

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Field Requests

Version 3.0 includes the ability to create a ‘Field Request’. This can be used by technicians in the field to create and track requests for services, parts, or other information on their mobile device. This request is routed to the office, which then tracks the request to completion. This feature provides the back office the ability to more effectively queue, prioritize, act and follow up on requests from the field.

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Major Update to Maintenance Contracts 

FIELDBOSS 3.0 introduces significant changes to the way Maintenance Contracts are created and managed, as well as how Maintenance Invoices are generated. In 3.0, a single Maintenance Contract can be used for many different billing cycles, including: monthly, annual, three-year and five-year on the same invoice. Additionally, a new view has been added to quickly identify contracts that are due for annual “escalations”. Maintenance invoices can now be generated for the current month or can be generated in advance for dates in the “next month”.

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There are more updates and enhancements included in these releases that are not highlighted in this blog post. And as always, we have also implemented several smaller improvements and fixes.

If you are a current customer looking to upgrade, or would just like some more information on FIELDBOSS 3.0, please contact us .

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HVACR Industry Alliance Backs Bipartisan HEAT Act

Members of the HVACR Alliance are supporting a bipartisan bill that would permit building owners to expense some HVACR equipment on their federal tax bills.

U.S. Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced the HEAT Act (HVAC Expensing and Technology Act). If passed, it would allow commercial building owners to deduct the full purchase price of HVAC equipment bought during the year under section 179 of the U.S. tax code. With a Democrat and Republican co-sponsoring this bill, there is an opportunity for bipartisan support to carry it through the legislative process. The bipartisan 2015 PATH Act signed by President Obama expanded and made permanent Section 179 expensing and removed an exclusion that prohibited the expensing of HVACR products, but there were classification issues with the IRS that prevented the provision for expensing HVACR units from taking effect. The HEAT Act would fix this discrepancy and allow small businesses to invest the capital necessary to bring down their utility costs and energy consumption.

ACCA President-CEO Paul Stalknecht said, “I am pleased to see members of Congress moving forward on this important issue. It is time for the federal government to recognize the realistic lifespan of commercial HVACR equipment and adjust the depreciation schedule accordingly.  Encouraging building owners to replace outdated, inefficient and failing equipment is a win-win for our national energy policy and building owners. ACCA and the HVACR Industry Alliance looks forward to helping advance this legislation and correcting the 2015 PATH Act.”

The HVACR Alliance members include the Air Conditioning Contractors of America; Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International; ASHRAE; North American Technician Excellence; Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Institute of Canada; National Air Filtration Association; Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors; Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association; and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

Read the full article here.

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Clearing the Air on HVAC Industry Challenges

compressor of air conditionThe HVAC industry has been changing rapidly over the last few years, which has caused some unique challenges for HVAC businesses.

Here are 4 challenges your HVAC business might be struggling with that can be mitigated with a comprehensive HVAC contractor management software.

  1. Growing technician shortage & hiring skilled workers

Despite projected industry growth, the HVACR industry is expecting to see a talent shortage of over 138,000 employees by 2022! Although the HVAC industry itself is growing fast, many HVACR workers will soon leave the workforce for retirement. So how can established HVAC contractors hope to attract and retain top millennial talent going forward? One solution is the adoption of technology in all business processes. Millennials intuitively understand and see value in upending old ways of doing things and replacing it with something newer and faster. As a demographic, they are more open to new experiences and less concerned with a conservative attitude towards business processes. If things can be done better using a new process, Millennials are inclined to be on board.

  1. Dynamic regulatory climate

Regulatory changes are becoming normal in the HVAC industry, increasing in number and frequency every year…. higher efficiencies, lower emissions, new refrigerants and more. In the process, the industry has become more complicated for the contractor who is trying to create an efficient, sustainable, and affordable business while staying compliant and avoiding fines. The contractor has to stay up-to-date with efficiency changes in their regions, and know the product line they represent, especially as it relates to system matches The contractor must also be in constant communication with their team so they are aware of changing requirements as well as new standards. The only way to stay compliant and avoid fines is to use a field service management software that automatically and continuously updates information, collects critical data, and issues alerts on violations, complaints, inspections, fines, hearings, jobs, and permits for HVAC service companies. In today’s environment, compiling manual information on a spreadsheet is not enough to prevent critical issues from slipping through the cracks. Constant attention and technology are required to prevent the accumulation of risk factors that can lead to violations and fines.

  1. Increased Expectations of Customer Service

Customer service expectations have dramatically increased in the past few years thanks in part to 24/7 connectivity and the ability to reach companies via a number of different channels. Today, immediate responses to questions, repairs and emergency calls are expected. Customers demand their problems be solved on the first visit. For HVAC service companies, the pressure to fix it right the first time has never been higher, a nearly impossible task without the help of technology. With a comprehensive, intelligent HVAC contractor management solution, technicians are always on time, prepared and armed with all the information they need to offer superior customer service and to fix the job right the first time. Customers will always be satisfied and never need to look elsewhere!

  1. Technician Departure & Company Knowledge

Technician departure leading to loss of data has become a huge challenge for HVAC companies. By linking field techs with each other and with back office personnel, mobile technology keeps everyone within the organization in sync, transcending the limitations of geography. Whether you have technicians that are retiring, off sick, or busy on another job, automating and sharing data reduces the risk of having a single point of information. A connected mobile device helps build easily accessible knowledge bases so field workers can access information anywhere, anytime, regardless of their location. With your best technicians’ wisdom stored in a company-wide database, you won’t lose that expert knowledge when they do retire or leave the company.

With the quick pace the HVAC industry is moving, the intense competition for business, the demands from customers and the lack of qualified technicians, the only way to survive and thrive is with the help of a comprehensive HVAC contractor management software. FIELDBOSS offers over 100 HVAC specific features and remarkable technological innovations.

Contact FIELDBOSS for a free demo.

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How To Attract And Retain Top Millennial Talent In The HVAC Workforce

Technician_kpis_featureMillennials are the single largest demographic in the workforce today, outnumbering generation x and the baby boomers. Millennials, which are defined as individuals in between the ages of 18 and 34, aren’t done their invasion yet. Construction Executive reports that as much as 40% of the millennial generation are still in high school or post-secondary school and have yet to grace the workforce with their presence. So that means the future of the modern workforce involves integrating the habits and methods of young millennials with traditional ways of doing business. This could mean big changes to a few large aspects of how business is typically done.

Millennials are consistently described by their older peers as “good with technology”. This common description is without a doubt grained in some truth; millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers as a common household device rather than a novelty. They are the first generation to really popularize and inhabit online social networks and communities. So when millennials show up for work and see what they perceive as old and out-dated business practices still in place, they are not inclined to stick around.

So how can established HVAC contractors hope to attract and retain top millennial talent going forward? One possible solution is the adoption of technology in all business processes. Millennials intuitively understand and see value in upending old ways of doing things and replacing it with something newer and faster. As a demographic, they are more open to new experiences and less concerned with a conservative attitude towards business processes. If things can be done better using a new process, millennials are inclined to be on board.

This is where FIELDBOSS® enters the picture. FIELDBOSS® is exactly what technologically-inclined millennials prospecting for job opportunities will want to see at HVAC contracting companies. Top millennial talent wants to be assured that the company they decide to work for is doing everything they can to be at the forefront of the industry. That means having a sophisticated, industry-specific software that helps the business run smoothly and efficiently. It means not relying on carbon paper and copying information on clipboards to transfer data. It means having a searchable database of clients and job sites, or being able to view real-time profit on a work order.

Millennials know that the world is changing. They have grown up in a world of rapid technological development and quick change. What would your world view be like if you were in middle school while the iPhone made its debut and you barely remember the time before everyone had the internet on their phones? The key to attracting and retaining the best of the incoming millennials is presenting a business environment that they can work with. And since millennials are only going to become more and more of a prominent force in the workforce, you can expect that this trend will only increase. For more information about FIELDBOSS®, please contact us here.

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More Women Pursuing Careers in the HVAC Industry

we_can_do_itEmployment of HVAC (heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration) mechanics and installers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. However, many in the industry are concerned that companies may be unable to find enough skilled talent to fill all these positions. A simple solution is to encourage more women to pursue careers in the trades.

The HVAC-R industry has traditionally been male-dominated. In fact, according to the 2015 Bureau of Labor statistics, women represent only 1.7 percent of all people working in the industry. Despite that low number, women who are involved in the industry are beginning to notice an increase in more women becoming HVACR technicians and contractors, and taking on leadership roles with distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers.

The long-standing stereotype that the role of a service technician is typically male is slowly starting to change. As more women join HVAC contracting companies, they are changing the perception and proving that the job isn’t just for men. These women are presenting themselves as strong, positive female role models for other women. Additionally, many trades schools, local and federal governments, and private institutions are helping to make it easier for women to train for jobs in AC maintenance, industrial air conditioning, and more. This drive to encourage women to become HVAC contractors and work in the industry has led to the formation of Women in HVACR, an organization that provides support, mentorship, scholarships, and helps women get into the industry. Through the organization, they connect with schools and help to make the HVAC industry less of a mystery to women and encourage women to consider it as a career choice. Meanwhile, HVAC companies themselves are trying to assist women in making the transition by hosting career fairs, awarding scholarships, and helping to support women new to the field.

Not every challenge of being a woman in a primarily male industry has been lifted, but the HVACR industry continues to further open its doors to women seeking a stable, well-paying career. With the increasing open-mindedness and equality, career opportunities, ownership abilities, and established support systems in place, more women are starting to take notice and consider the HVAC-R industry as a career. As the skilled trades shortage grows larger each day, it’s imperative to begin changing the perception of a woman’s ability to excel in the trade professions. For HVAC-R businesses to continue to grow they need to find enough quality employees for the future. Owners must look outside the industry’s preconceived idea of what a service technician looks like. It is exciting to see this transformation beginning to take place and to see more women getting involved and succeeding in the HVAC-R world.

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Too Busy to Improve Your Service? Stop Venting and Start Growing.

TOOBUSYIt’s amazing the number of times executives from successful HVAC Companies have inquired about HVAC Field Service Management software only to say that they’re too busy to make changes or have their service technicians learn something new. The problem is, during the time upgrading is put off, their business is missing out on growth and revenue opportunities.

HVAC Companies and their technicians can really benefit from a connected, streamlined operation process. Many companies, however, still manage their workforce through an inefficient paper process resulting in missed opportunities, low first time fix rates, lack of critical information and loss of revenue. With no comprehensive field management software, techs have to make unnecessary trips back to the office to look for parts, paperwork, and other information instead of creating new opportunities and servicing customers.

HVAC Companies that have taken the time to upgrade their field service operations and connect the field with their back office have realized significant improvements in field efficiency. This has not only created a more satisfied workforce, but ultimately it has improved customer satisfaction, resulting in additional opportunities for growth and revenue.

So how do you rationalize implementing a new field service management software for your company? Are you experiencing any of the following challenges?

  • Call-to-service time is causing customers to wait too long
  • Poor optimization in dispatch and scheduling, causing unnecessary truck rolls
  • Low first-time fix rate
  • Service-to-cash cycle is slow
  • Lack of visibility into field service operations is resulting in poor forecasting
  • Inventory is lost or being stock-piled in trucks
  • Field employees are driving to/from the office just to drop off or pick up paperwork
  • Invoices/Work orders are getting lost, destroyed or are illegible
  • Information is being re-keyed into disconnected back-office systems
  • Customer retention rate is low
  • Inflated timesheets/overtime

Each day that you delay is costing you money, and potentially putting you at a competitive disadvantage. Automating field service operations not only helps to reduce revenue leakage, but improves customer satisfaction, freeing up resources to focus on growth. With a knowledgeable and experienced partner, the transition from paper to automation can be seamless.

Contact FIELDBOSS to find out how we can help you stop venting about losing money and start optimizing your service to grow your business.

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Set your HVAC Company Apart From the Competition

motion-f5v-06It is essential to set up and track all the important information relative to your HVAC businesses. It can be very difficult to organize and track all of your proposals, contracts, locations, specifications, inspections, repairs, workflow, and parts etc. From addressing pricing to understanding which product is the best fit, forms cover a lot of information, which can easily turn a normal service call into an intense sales pitch.

With just a few changes, you can create a positive experience that will set your HVAC company apart from the competition:

1. Mobile Devices, smart phones & tablets: Using a tablet with a form application or our FieldBoss HVAC Solution will allow the customer or contractor to input information quickly. The advanced technology of tablets and apps will give the customer a one-step process without the redundancy. Tablets also introduce a visual element to traditional forms. Zoom in on product features, display product highlights, and turn a 2-dimensional form into an interactive selling experience. With FieldBoss, you can have real time access to all your information even in areas with no reception!

2. Organized Scheduling and Dispatch: Never send the wrong technician with the wrong equipment ever again. With FieldBoss, you can efficiently schedule technicians and equipment with a rules-based scheduling engine that is completely integrated with Microsoft Outlook. Maximize technician utilization by optimizing call routing that can be accessed from a mobile device.

3. Integrate with Accounting: Having your CRM system integrate with your accounting system maximizes your business efficiency. You can finally share your financial data with your sales team. Not only will you be able to view customer information, but connecting with QuickBooks or another popular accounting system, you can also track expenses, create customer reports, and gain insights so you can better forecast. FieldBoss integrates with all popular accounting systems. It also integrates optimally with Microsoft Dynamics GP financial and inventory management so that you can organize, operate, analyze, and manage your business using software from a single vendor, Microsoft.

Implementing a CRM system that was designed specifically for the HVAC industry will really improve efficiency in day to day activates like scheduling and tracking important information. For more information on FieldBoss for HVAC Contactors, please contact us.

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