The Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) in California — along with the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.C. Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center — sponsored an historic “HVAC Energy Efficiency Roundtable” in San Francisco, on May 12 and 13.
ContractingBusiness.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Weil was one of 70 people asked to participate in the event. In attendance were HVAC industry leaders from all sectors: contractors, distributors, manufacturers, labor, educators, code bodies, building inspectors, regulators, researchers, and investor-owned and municipal utilities.
The purpose of the meeting was to start charting a course to help the state attain the ambitious greenhouse-gas reduction goals set by California's legislature and regulators. The state's Strategic Plan calls for a “transformation” of the HVAC industry to meet specific targets, including:
Consistent and effective compliance, enforcement, and verification of HVAC-related building and appliance standards in California
Ensuring that quality installation and maintenance practices become the industry norm in the state
Ensuring that whole-building design and construction practices fully integrate building performance objectives to reduce cooling and heating loads
Development of climate-appropriate HVAC technologies (equipment and controls, including system diagnostics) with accelerated market penetration.
Some of the most significant barriers identified by the task team include lack of enforcement of the efficiency requirements of Title 24, insufficient training and appeal for the large workforce that will be needed, and the low value that many customers place on receiving superlative quality in the installation and maintenance of HVAC equipment.
California utility managers hope to address some of these barriers in upcoming programs. They said they realize they can't meet these goals alone, and it will take concerted action from all the stakeholders represented at the roundtable to achieve the kind of transformation that's needed.