It is possible to determine the health of a sector both directly and indirectly. In the case of energy management, the most direct measure is the amount of energy being saved. The indirect way is the progress being made by support industries.
The HVAC and HVACR sectors are the best of these indirect support industry indicators. And, according to them, the health of the energy management sector they serve is very good indeed.
The AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal, in anticipation of the 2017 AHR Expo, recently conducted a nine-question worldwide survey of 1,400 HVAC firms. The main goal of the survey was to predict the prospects for 2017. The Expo will be held from January 30 to February 1 in Las Vegas.
The feelings are upbeat. “Energy managers have an encouraging opportunity in the coming year to work alongside the other HVACR trades in elevating the level of efficiency across the industry at-large,” wrote Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company, in response to emailed questions from Energy Manager Today. “From the survey results, it’s evident that the industry landscape is not only receptive to the overall message of designing for energy efficiency, but that those within it are unanimously eager to learn and grow in continual pursuit of advanced levels of efficient operation.”
The survey is filled with interesting information. Respondents in half of 12 categories covered (residential, light commercial, heavy commercial, schools, lodging and international markets) used the term “excellent” to assess their prospects for the year ahead more than they did in last year’s version of the survey. A higher percentage of respondents see “good” prospects for 2017 compared to those prognosticating about this year from the end of 2015. Two stood out, Stevens wrote. “Light commercial applications were indicated as providing the most opportunity in the coming year, closely followed by those in the heavy commercial sector.”
The key services that HVAC professionals expect to offer customers in 2017 are reliability, maintenance, first costs and energy efficiency. All of these were cited as “very” or “somewhat” important by more than 90 percent of respondents. Energy efficiency was seen by 36 percent of respondents as a key focus for the year ahead. “Respondents indicated that maintenance and replacement jobs held the greatest amount of promise for 2017,” Stevens wrote.
The growth of HVAC and HVACR is nothing short of stunning. A new report from MRRSE says that the worldwide market will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 5.50 percent between this year and 2020, with the total value of the market growing from $81.1 billion from last year to $130.7 billion by 2020. To experience such an increase in a mature area suggests that it is undergoing great changes.
The world of HVAC obviously is changing and a tremendous amount of money is being spent in keeping pace. “From the survey results, it’s clear that energy managers are supported by the HVACR industry in their advocacy around the importance of mechanical system efficiency,” Stevens wrote. “Survey respondents acknowledge the call to action in designing, specifying and installing HVACR equipment to meet continuously higher levels of energy efficiency.”
Another driver is that processes that were done once and forgotten for long periods of time in the past now are done more often. For instance, it has been shown that keeping air conditioning and heating equipment clean and tuned saves money. This was never something that was really in doubt — but often was neglected. The emphasis on energy efficiency of the past few years is leading businesses to take this message to heart. Clean and tuned equipment reduces energy use. Reduced energy use saves money and reflects well on the organization. This all leads to more work for HVAC personnel.