Archive for the ‘Real world stories’ Category

Social Energy

November 17th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

They said it couldn’t be done. But ConduitNW, an online watering hole for energy efficiency professionals, has nearly 1,000 members since launching in May of this year. As Sustainable Business Oregon reported last week:

Led by [Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance] NEEA in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration, Conduit was built and will operate through 2014 on a $1.25 million budget, about $400,000 of that dedicated to development costs.

The BPA contributed a separate grant, in addition to the startup website’s group of utility funders, to get ConduitNW up and running. The two agencies have been working for the last two years on the project.

The new social media site – which is a mix of LinkedIn, Facebook Groups (from way back when?) and Google Docs – gained some social media cred recently when it stole what would have been serious Twitter thunder from this year’s Efficiency Connections Northwest 2011 held in Tacoma, WA.

This is what a futurist looks like.

[BTW: the conference featured David Zach (who’s job title is “Futurist.” WTF, what a great title. Apparently there are only a few on the planet). The other Keynote Speaker was L. Hunter Lovins, Author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.]

Though ConduitNW’s main target for the site is the 150 nationwide utilities working toward energy efficiency, it also attacts a number of contractors and “impementers,” according to NEEA’s online community manager, Ben Fowler. The site came out of a call for collaboration by utility execs to state govenors in 2008, according to a BPA public utilities specialist in energy efficiency.

At ConduitNW, you can catch up on industry news as well as upcoming energy-related and NEEA events. Browse by sector, function, topic or group, receive email notifications and share information with colleagues through document sharing.

And of course, upload a great profile pic.

Sidenote: Have you checked out “A Profitable and Resource-Efficient Future,” the new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) yet? The ever-vigilant EarthTechling picked it up and spit it back out to us this week:

According to to the report, commercial buildings are responsible for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and, in some countries, 70 percent of electrical consumption. Nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment, and the energy savings would exceed the cost of upgrades, generally within five years or less, the report said.

Integrating HVAC and Energy Services with Energy Service Agreements

September 16th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Advice to HVAC Contractors on Making the ESA Sale, Avoiding Anklebiters, and Long Term Relationships

Thom Brazel, our hero

Thom Brazel, our hero

by Thom Brazel, Chairman of the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) Board of Managers and General Manager of West Coast Operations for Hill York, a leading provider of commercial air-conditioning and energy solutions. This 75 year old company is a leading provider of commercial air-conditioning and energy solutions with six locations across Florida. With nearly twenty years experience in the HVAC industry, Brazel is a LEED AP, and was part of the Task Force that created the MSCA LEGS (Labor Estimating Guide for Service) as well as the MSCA Green Star certification and MSCA Green PM.

Note: This article appeared in HVAC Business on June 28, 2011. The Building Advisor wanted to get it over to the blog for archival purposes. 

When I look back at the HVAC industry over the last few years, I’m amazed that in 2007, nobody in our industry was talking about LEED or green. At that time, honestly, finding enough retrofit and service techs was an HVAC company’s biggest problem.

Now it’s absolutely different. I’m hearing anecdotally that a 60% decrease in HVAC contractor business is common. We’ve had people flat out tell us they don’t know what to do. Contractors who used to be in residential and light commercial are competing with bigger companies, because the smaller projects have dried up.

I call them the “ankle biters,” because they’re underbidding; they want to get the job now, get the money and move out. It’s creating significant price competition. However, many of the small guys are going under, and the larger companies that aren’t adapting to change are going away as a result of competing a losing battle on price.

Anklebiters Vs. Value

We are now seeing a culture shift between contractors competing merely on price, and those companies really executing on more of a value-add. And I see an ever widening rift between these two types of companies. We can fight over the scraps for awhile, but the smaller contractors who are in it for the short term will eventually run out of cash, fall away, or get gobbled up by a bigger company.

Many contractors seem to be dealing with difficult times by grieving over it, rather than reinventing themselves. They go from denying there’s a problem, to being angry, to bargaining and making deals, until they’re depressed and finally move into acceptance of the marketplace for what it is right now.  Unfortunately for many companies, it is now too late.

A lot of businesses think if they stick with it, things will go back to the way they were.

Everything Existing Is New Again

At Hill York, our focus for decades has been predominately on new construction, and we’ve had to adapt beyond an additional focus on service, maintenance and retrofits all the way to creating safer, healthier buildings that are serviced from a holistic viewpoint.

We have restructured the company in response to current economic times, and made multiple changes to provide solutions. The biggest change is our attention to existing buildings, and energy driven retrofits. We like to say, ‘It’s only a new building once, but it’s an existing building forever.’ That is where the majority of our focus now lies.

Two years ago, our hyGreen division [Hill York’s team dedicated to providing strategic, energy-saving solutions to new and existing buildings] was a department made up of seven or eight people. Today, it is becoming a company-wide culture. Almost every retrofit project we do has an energy component. We now don’t simply take it past the hyGreen team – we ask ourselves going in, “what is the hyGreen component of everything we touch?”

We’ve sold approximately 35 Energy Solutions Agreements (ESAs), and we use a building performance diagnostic program, BuildingAdvice, in conjunction with many of them. BuildingAdvice uses data collection and analysis to generate comprehensive reports such as energy benchmarks, assessments and audits with escalating levels of detail on improving energy usage in the building. There are other tools available, but BuildingAdvice is our preferred tool because it’s automated and applicable to the widest number of building types.

At Hill York, we have it structured where the customer pays for the initial energy reports only if they don’t elect to complete a project we recommend as a result, assuming that project meets their buying criteria. By and large, we know there’s the potential for energy savings in pretty much any facility we survey, so we have little risk of not finding a viable project.

Looking Forward 

If you’re the driver, you’re never going to get driven around. My advice to HVAC contractors working with an ESA model is that right now, it’s a financially-based sale,  but it’s a relationship-based sale as well.

You have to show the hard numbers on ROI or it’s not going to happen. Tools like BuildingAdvice reports help to quantify statements. [Hill York’s hyGreen also partners with other companies, including utiliVisor, OptiNet, Energy Expert, and SmartCool, to sustain and measure energy performance for commercial and industrial businesses.] For example, in Florida, HVAC is typically 60% of a building’s overall utility cost. We can anticipate overventilation, but measuring carbon dioxide levels with BuildingAdvice helps us put a dollar figure to it, rather than simply being speculative. The findings have to be real, and tangible. But that’s only half the battle. You need a customer who knows and trusts you. A customer who sees you as a partner.

Learning from Mistakes

Here’s a little example of where Hill York blew it with a potential customer. We were recently going after a maintenance agreement with a customer who has been using another vendor for years. From a pricing standpoint, our proposal on the 200,000 square foot commercial office building was in the same ballpark as the other vendors. Our program was clearly a value-add to the potential customer, as it included a simple energy benchmark, determined the building performance relative to other buildings and identified a handful of opportunities, all of which yielded significant energy savings opportunities. Here’s how the conversation went after they’d received that info:

Potential Customer: “Thanks for the info. Good stuff! However, we are happy with the folks we’ve been working with. We know them and they know us.”

Hill York: “If your current vendor is truly looking out for your best interests, why have they never mentioned any of these cost-saving opportunities to you before?”

Potential Customer: “Good point, however, now we are aware of the opportunities for savings, and we really appreciate the information!”

Long story short, we didn’t get the maintenance agreement, and the other company did the energy projects we recommended.

Where did we fail? We used the finest technologies available to gather data, did the analysis and proved to the customer we were smarter than the other guys, but we didn’t bother to develop a level of trust and rapport first. Did we differentiate ourselves?  Absolutely. But we missed the most important piece – the relationship.

Relationships Still Key

During challenging economic times, the companies who survive will do so due to strong relationships. Work within your company’s relationships, and strengthen them with the credibility that comes from harnessing the information that can be obtained from the technologies that are readily available. Continuously look for ways to make every one of your customers operate their facilities better, and they will remain your customer.



Energy Efficiency News Roundup – Who Says September Means an HVAC Slowdown?

September 14th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

From Energy Efficiency News‘Green’ Empire State Building strikes gold. New York City’s iconic Empire State Building has gone from ENERGY STAR Certification over the last two years to LEED Gold certification. Its $550 million investment in green refurbishment will be paid back through energy savings alone in around three years.

The retrofit of the building by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle promises to reduce its energy consumption by more than 38% and save $4.4 million in energy costs a year. The 2.85 million square foot building is one of very few ‘national historic landmarks’ to earn the certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The 80-year old building is not as old as the Jackson County Courthouse, which earned its ENERGY STAR Certification with the services of McElroy’s, Inc. in Northeastern Kansas. Look for another historical building case study from McElroy’s, another BuildingAdvice partner, coming soon.

Great news! Energy Star now available for new multifamily high-rise buildings, according to Contractor Magazine. Do you know your building types? Multifamily is actually a commercial building type, even though its use is residential.

“Expanding the Energy Star eligibility to such properties will not only help EPA strengthen energy-efficiency initiatives across the nation, which save money and help protect the environment, but also provide property owners the opportunity to increase the asset value and offer tenants comfortable homes,” the article states.

Are you an HVAC who’s glued to your smartphone? From Maple Grove, MN, comes a free app for iPhone, iPad and and Windows-based smartphones. Singh360, a full service facility management consulting firm focused on energy solutions, recently released the app for refrigeration and HVAC engineers. These applications calculate “Pressure-Temperature” for various refrigerants (such as R404A, R22, Propane, Ammonia, Carbon-di-oxide etc.) typically used in commercial and supermarket facilities.

The app is available through the iTunes store and on the company’s website at http://singh360.com/products/mobile-app/.

Images courtesy paulbarsch.wordpress.comnorthamericatravel.wordpress.com.

Small Change, Big Rewards in Energy Efficiency

May 13th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Our friends at Environmental Leader covered findings from a great report, Ten Ways to Slash Energy Cost & Reduce Budget Uncertainty, from enterprise software provider Verisae this week.

Small change can create big impact.

Small Efficiency Changes Save Big Bucks, Report Says cited big change from low-capital adjustments made by large scale grocery retailers, the largest energy consumers in the retail sector (who also reap the narrowest margins, making them excellent candidates for energy savings services). A few highlights from the list speak directly to the BuildingAdvice suite of energy services programs:

  • Monitor energy consumption in real time. (BuildingAdvice Verify’s measurement and verification capability provides ongoing, continuous monitoring to answer this need.)
  • Capture and analyze complete and accurate data from your utility bills. (Did you know BuildingAdvice automatically populates utility data into an Energy Benchmark Report, and saves that information for the next time you want to rebenchmark?)

Sidenote: industry studies show that one to three percent of all utility bills contain billing errors, the report pointed out.

Though the report concedes that the most noticeable savings comes from replacement of equipment, it found companies that have made continuous, small improvements have reaped huge rewards over time. (BuildingAdvice’s Energy Assessment Report is perfect for uncovering low- and no-cost adjustments to achieve energy savings.)

"General mandatory" sign in UK

In the UK, The Telegraph reported that Property bosses want energy efficiency displayed. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the property industry advocated for mandatory energy efficiency disclosure laws on commercial buildings. Currently, only public sector buildings are required to provide Display Energy Certificates (DECs) which rank their energy efficiency.

The letter warned that without a “level playing field,” the green credentials of buildings will never be improved.

Lastly, the Sacramento Bee reported Detroit Media Partnership Receives $150,000 Incentive for Energy Efficiency Projects through DTE Energy’s ‘Your Energy Savings’ Program

DTE Music Center: A better use for all that energy

That’s right, the nice people at Michigan utilities provider DTE have been itching to give away cash incentives for energy efficient upgrades since launching Your Energy Savings for residential and business customers in 2009. Customers can earn incentives if they make improvements from a list of qualified efficiency upgrades, including HVAC systems. The Bee reported:

Detroit Media Partnership received the funds for a chiller and heat exchanger replacement project. This incentive paid for 40 percent of the project, which included replacing chillers that were 40 years old.

 

Images courtesy fredlab‘s flickr stream, distinctivewebdesigns.com, UK’s Health and Safety.

Dave’s World: How Soon the Return of the 100-Year Building?

May 2nd, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Here’s another post from Dave HewettBuildingAdvice senior advisory consultant and  former Chairman of BOMA International. It’s part of a series of guest posts from his blog, “Dave’s View,” a from-the-hip view of issues facing commercial real estate executives published on his site, ecobuildertoday.com.

Enjoy!


I have been reading, watching and thinking much about ancient structures lately;  including the coliseum, cathedrals across Europe, ancient cities of the Aztecs, and Egyptian pyramids. Most of these are buildings that required decades, if not a century or more, to construct; most were functional for multiple centuries and are still standing (if only partially) today. Modern architects, engineers and other professionals are continually amazed at the complexity of the design and engineering that went into their planning and construction.

Egyptian pyramid

Today we debate the holding period of a building in years, with ten years as being a long term hold, while we consider the useful life of a building in terms of a few decades at best. Is this because they cannot be used in our ever changing society, or because we cannot see into the future as well as ancient real estate developers?

For the next decade at least, I believe we will see many changes in the ownership period of buildings, as well as the expected lifecycle of buildings. The economics have forever changed in our industry. While certainly, like any other industry, there will be opportunistic owners and special marketplaces with dramatic peaks and valleys, I believe overall we will see a flattening of cycles and an economic landscape in the real estate industry resembling a marshland; be careful where you step more than ever.

Rome's Colosseum

Properties will rely more and more on long term potential, so buildings will have to adapt to varying uses, and capable of longer lives. With a society that changes so quickly from day to day and hour by hour, the demands on buildings are more and more forced to respond to a changing life cycle. Churches become pubs, theaters become churches, warehouses become housing, and office becomes retail.

The real estate investor needs the skin of a chameleon, prepared to consider the next use prior to making the first purchase. The strategy of real estate has become a serious game of chess.

Aztec temple

The modern one hundred year building, typically found as a downtown, (or core area), high rise (used for housing or office) was constructed to last through several owners and uses. Today, most urban and suburban buildings are constructed to fit a spreadsheet, not a market cycle.

This will be change as markets get flatter, cycles get faster and uses continue to change: adaptive re-use will become the king. New buildings will be forced to become not only environmentally sustainable but economically sustainable as well, which will force a longer ownership horizon. Infrastructure will be required to be  adaptable and built for the long term, whether core, urban or suburban.

Images courtesy korthalsaltes.comsynergy-athletics.com and destination360.com.

 

Dave’s World: Green Comes in Many Flavors

April 27th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Here’s another post from Dave HewettBuildingAdvice senior advisory consultant and  former Chairman of BOMA International. It’s part of a series of guest posts from his blog, “Dave’s View,” a from-the-hip view of issues facing commercial real estate executives published on his site, ecobuildertoday.com.

Enjoy!


On a recent flight (delayed by only three hours), I picked up a copy of National Geographic. While it may make sense to find a great example of sustainability and green in this magazine, I was surprised to find the expression of sustainability in an article that was a celebration of renewal.

The High-Line is an abandoned elevated rail track in the midst of Manhattan. It was originally built in the 1930s and mostly abandoned by the 1960s, providing some limited use as a rail service into the early 1980s. While it had a very productive and useful life, over the last 30 years it has sat vacant and deteriorating. Parts of it were torn down in the 60s while the remaining one and one-half miles has been neglected, discussed, overlooked, looked into and finally, mostly forgotten.

In 1999, a couple of young residents began the long process of seeing what could be done to save this unique structure. Over the past 10 plus years much has happened. Among zoning changes, neighborhood meetings, city meetings, and everything else that goes into changing real estate including public money, private money, and sweat, a park was developed. The neighborhood began to revive and thrive. Today the majority of the remaining line is a world class park. A community is teeming and there is green, as in flowers, trees, and shrubs in the urban core of New York City.

This is the type of thinking I believe we will continue to see across the country: adaptive re-use of real estate. Given the massive change in our economy andlingering unemployment, high vacancy rates will take years to fill. I believe the biggest play in real estate for the next five to ten years will be adaptive re-use of existing infrastructure. Green has sprung from concrete and steel in NYC; we can only imagine where we will see it next. This is sustainability from both an economic and an environmental perspective.

To get a firsthand view of the High-Line project, watch the video, read the article at National Geographic Article –High-Line or just enjoy the photos at National Geographic Photos – High- Line.

 

Rebates for energy assessments: NYSERDA leads the charge

January 26th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

NYSERDA logoLook what NYSERDA is offering to energy customers in the state of New York: “NYSERDA offers low-cost energy assessments for commercial buildings”, costing only $100-400 for smaller buildings. They’ll split the energy assessment cost 50-50 with buildings that spend more than $75,000 per year on energy. Either way, it’s a great deal.

An article in The Ithaca Journal explains more about it. They correctly assert that cost-effective improvements can reduce energy costs by 20% or more and that it starts with an assessment. Energy efficiency is a priority for NYSERDA. Read more about their philosophy here. And see some of the specific funding opportunities and programs for

Why aren’t more utilities doing this? There are others, we realize that NYSERDA (which is not itself a utility, but is a separate energy-efficiency focused organization funded by state rate payers, so…a representative of multiple utilities) is not the only one. In fact, right here in Portland, the Energy Trust of Oregon (same type of model as NYSERDA) has a similar program. We love hearing about programs like these that make it easy and cost-effective for buildings of any size to get a better understanding of how much money they’re wasting on energy and where it can be cut. Better yet, the utilities are partnering with a network of service providers, including HVAC contractors and energy engineers, to get the jobs done. Everyone wins.

We’d love to hear about utilities and utility-funded entities in your area who are running similar programs. Have you done energy assessments through a utility? Leave a comment below and let us know about it.

As Seen In Contractor Magazine…

November 30th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Below is a  Building Advisor post adapted from the recent article on J.C. Cannistraro in Contractormag.com.

“Reports do not lie. Energy savings are truly available for most buildings.”

So says Bill Fleming, an HVAC Service Manager at the family-owned mechanical services company J.C. Cannistraro in Watertown, Mass, and so he’s proved it to be true.

The industry expert was quoted on the evolving opportunities for energy services in the HVAC industry by ACHR News last August in the article, “Energy Audits in HVAC.” [update: another energy services success story can be found in Contractormag.com, here.]

As part of the 47-year old J.C. Cannistraro’s facilities services division, Cannistraro’s Building Energy Analysis service offering utilizes BuildingAdvice as a fundamental tool for assessing properties 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.

Cannistraro utilizes all three BuildingAdvice reports: Energy Benchmark, Energy Assessment, and Energy Audit.

When Cannistraro went looking for energy services tools to differentiate itself from the competition, BuildingAdvice was identified as the clear market leader by a corporate committee. Not only did it serve the small- to midsize niche well, it “was going where we wanted to go. I have the highest praise for the product,” Fleming says.

[BuildingAdvice] was going where we wanted to go. I have the highest praise for the product,” Fleming says.

Additionally, the sales and marketing training that are an integral part of the BuildingAdvice platform (highlighted here in ACHR News) were a draw. BuildingAdvice armed Fleming and his staff to show owners the energy savings they could access by utilizing BuildingAdvice’s diagnostic suite of services.

But while offering free energy benchmark reports attracted interest in Fleming’s service area, he has encountered resistance. “It isn’t always easy to obtain copies of necessary utility bills,” Fleming comments of building owners, managers and tenants.

Energy services by HVAC and mechanical contractors: it's all about differentiation.

Fleming points to the value of getting through to the right person.

“A savvy owner is looking at the longterm savings, not just someone who wants to wait until something breaks.”

One project in particular brought BuildingAdvice’s value home in September of 2009.

Longtime client Metro Realty Trust was “fairly receptive to the energy conversation,” says Fleming. A medical laboratory tenant occupying 20,000 square feet of a 55,000 square foot building was considering a move, partially due to its unavoidably high power usage and the costs associated. Metro Realty Trust knew that if it could lower the building’s energy costs, it would have a leg up on keeping the tenant.

Metro Realty Trust and Cannistraro saw eye to eye: improving the building’s performance would be good for the building’s profitability. Cannistraro did a free Energy Benchmark and formulated multiple-tenant utility information into a spreadsheet. Fleming showed Metro Realty Trust the damage: an EnergyStar score in the 30s (on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 is the most efficient).

The next step would prove to be a test of BuildingAdvice’s sales training. “Transitioning the client from a benchmark to an audit is the hardest part of the process,” said Fleming. “It all depends on the effectiveness of our presentation. How we present what we do is a key part of the process.”

By transferring the information into a separate template, Fleming presented a customized report in a format that worked for the client.

Based on the BuildingAdvice Energy Audit, Cannistraro proposed nearly $100,000 in retrofit and maintenance work for Metro Realty Trust.

In a few months, Metro Realty Trust had come up with the funds to complete the project.

“BuildingAdvice generated critical information to get the work done,” Fleming said. “It would have been difficult to justify without the information contained in the BuildingAdvice report.”

Right now, Fleming has two more audits pending – one for a hotel, the other for an office complex – and recently completed work that qualified for $8,700 in state rebates. Fleming estimates the client will save $15,000 per year in energy usage.

Images courtesy thefuturebuzz.com, J.C. Cannistraro, BuildingAdvice.

BuildingAdvice Energy Savings Grabs Spotlight

November 23rd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

You might have noticed we’ve been getting a lot of attention lately.

First there was the November 1 article in the ACHR (Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration) NEWS, Contractor Scores With Free Benchmarking, highlighting the energy savings our BuildingAdvice channel partner Ed Brady of Sauer, Inc. uncovered at Fayette County Memorial Hospital in Columbus, Ohio this year (covered by The Building Advisor here).

After Sauer, Inc.‘s upper management decided to offer free energy benchmarks as part of its overall company strategy early in 2010, Brady, Service Account Representative for the Columbus location of the four-branch mechanical contractor, offered the service to Fayette County Memorial Hospital, Columbus’ two-building, critical access hospital. By summer’s end the benchmarking had amounted to over $750,000 worth of energy retrofitting service work.

“Contract customers weren’t biting at the energy services,” said Brady of his existing client base. “We found that by offering free benchmarking, we would definitely get potential new clients and some nice first meetings.” Moreover, “It doesn’t really take that much of my time to do the benchmarking.” By the following month, Brady was putting the energy services platform to work. – ACHR News

Another BuildingAdvice channel partner, J.C. Cannistraro in Watertown, Mass., got some love from Contractormag.com early this month with a spotlight,  Cannistraro finds energy auditing promising, profitable. Bill Fleming, HVAC Service Manager for the New England mechanical contractor, was the poster boy for finding energy savings for Metro Realty Trust, a Northeastern ownership in danger of losing a large medical laboratory tenant to high power usage and the costs associated.

JC Cannistraro's Vincent Ciampa verifying proper operation of a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive).

As Contractormag.com tells it, Fleming’s free benchmark resulted in a score the ownership couldn’t ignore. A powerful presentation, aided by BuildingAdvice, proposing $100,000 in retrofit and maintenance work, was fielded and funded in a matter of months.

“After Cannistraro entered the auditing market, a company committee selected a software tool called BuildingAdvice that was created by a company named BuildingAdvice. Fleming said the adaptability of the tool allows his people to generate statistics that show a client how much energy and money he can save.” – Contractormag.com

To top it all off, the ACHR (Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration) NEWS hit us again with the Nov. 8 article “Home Health + Comfort: Commercial Energy Audits Are in Demand”

Our sexy sidebar tapped BuildingAdvice as “a company that offers contractors the marketing and technical tools needed in order to start improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.”

“The sales and marketing training piece teaches contractors how to build an energy services offering that fits into their existing approach to service. In addition, BuildingAdvice teaches their contractors’ salespeople to have the confidence to engage customers in conversations about energy.” – ACHR News

We confess, we like the attention. But we like people like Ed Brady and Bill Fleming in the spotlight even more.

Images courtesy ACHR News, Contractormag.com, and JC Cannistraro.

LinkedIn HVAC Professionals Group Abuzz With Discussion, “Are there published survey results on HVAC professionals and social media?”

September 8th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Does this man look like he wants to read a blog?

BuildingAdvice’s public relations professional asked the above question 13 days ago, and the comments haven’t stopped yet.

So far, responses are disparate but engaged, even passionate. Not about the published survey results part – that’s a pretty resounding ‘No.’

But on the idea of whether social media reaches the HVAC industry, experts are hedging their bets. HVAC pros may be “too busy outdoors,” working too many long hours to feel the need to catch up on industry news online when they get free.

Christine Cavaliero, CT Marketing Consultant / Specialty Internet Marketing wrote,

“…what I’ve observed with HVAC companies – traditional marketing is king. Social Marketing requires too much time for the average HVAC company with a single office.”

Aviv Scheinman, Business Development Manager at ADAR-Airtech in Israel, seconded that emotion: HVAC pros don’t use social media because “their customers aren’t motivated to look for their services there.”

Good point. Are there building owners and managers looking for HVAC chatter on social media, like Yelpers talk restaurants or retail? If so, The Building Advisor hasn’t seen it.

Here’s what some folks are having success with:

  • Newsletters – Like, The Building Monitor per se. Are you signed up?
  • Videos on YouTube – Eric Stromquist of Stromquist & Co in Atlanta, GA has had success with putting industry news out on Twitter and posting troubleshooting videos for their products to YouTube. However, one thing to watch for is companies banning employee access to YouTube. You may need to send your video on a DVD or jumpdrive instead.
  • Faxing – Jon Mendelson, Director Inside Sales at Elgen Manufacturing Company, INC sends 3,000 faxes every Monday
  • John Iwanski, Director of Publishing at RSES stands by the power of reader service cards and business reply cards.

Other interesting thoughts:

Snakes on a Trane, get it? Blame hvac talk...

“We’re trying to find ways to expand the use of our e-Learning programs for service techs, as well as share more about the NATE-examination prep offerings we have.”

- John Iwanski, Director of Publishing at RSES

“…we just released a video of our new facility and WOW it established us as players. I sent it to my customers and hot prospects and the phone rang off the hook for a few days. As a manufacture we have toyed with videos and actually giving away cheap mp3 players to run the videos and the idea was and is well received.”

- Jon Mendelson, Director Inside Sales at Elgen Manufacturing Company, INC

“How many of you thought Yelp or Angie’s list was a fad? IMO these two sites have taken over what the BBB use to do.”

- Christine Loughman, General Manager at Kappl Heating & Air Conditioning

Join the discussion at the LinkedIn HVAC Professionals Group.

Images courtesy Just Venting and hvac-talk.com.