People often ask me what my stance is on the environment, global warming, the ozone layer, and most recently, “green.” My friends know that I’m fairly skeptical about some of the science and historical perspective behind much of the environmentalist hype. I do, however, think that regardless of whether the science is good or bad, we have an obligation to be good stewards of this earth during our short visit here.

Stewardship vs. Environmentalism
While some may argue it’s just semantics, I believe stewardship is very different than environmentalism. Webster defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

Stewardship is about how you conduct yourself every day — it’s about how you approach the things you normally do that affect the world around you. Much of stewardship is about common sense things that our parents taught us: Don’t waste, don’t be a litterbug, use only what you need, and so forth. In Boy Scouts, stewardship is described as leaving a campsite better than how you found it.

Perhaps environmentalism started out this way, but unfortunately, it’s become little more than a party line; you either believe the propaganda based on questionable science, or you’re part of the problem.

Green is a great term. It describes what is good about our planet. It shouldn’t be twisted to serve political agendas. I hope those of us with sensible, moderate approaches to being good stewards of this planet can keep this term from suffering the fate of environmentalism.

In any case, I believe that as a contractor, you can define green and stewardship in terms of what it means to you. You still need to do things like recover refrigerants regardless of your beliefs — it’s the law. However, you do have control over how you want to be viewed, and what green services you offer your customers.

Energy use is the single most important environmental factor affected by our trade. Regardless of which technologies you sell, you can have a huge impact on how energy is used in the homes and businesses you serve.

Sure, more efficient equipment can save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and be a greener alternative; but equipment is only a small part of how you can be green. The manner in which you design, install, and service systems can provide much more energy efficiency than the SEER or AFUE ratings on the boxes you install.

Measured Performance IS Green
A home or building where a system is installed, tested, and adjusted properly can have as little as half the carbon footprint or less, than one where the same efficient box was used, but the rest of the system wasn’t addressed. How much greener can you get than that?

Most utilities and government entities are focused on small improvements that can be obtained through more efficient equipment, even tight ducts, yet giant leaps in efficiency can be made by actually getting systems performing the way they should be working.

The kicker is that you, the HVAC contractor, have the most control on how much energy is saved from comfort systems — more than any manufacturer or utility can ever hope to achieve. So the key is to use this strength to your advantage.

Do you wait for someone to come along with yet another program or rebate scheme with a big green logo on it, or do you create your own green approach to saving your customers money while keeping them more comfortable than ever? Many contractors are already doing more for green and the environment than they are aware of — they just haven’t taken credit for it, yet.

If you’re a performance-based contractor selling customers delivered, measured performance, you’re way ahead of the pack. It’s time to take green credit for what you’re already doing.

Here’s the real beauty of it: you can do it within your own definition of what stewardship is, not some party line view of the world. You have a golden opportunity to define what green means to you. Take a little time to think about what this all means and choose the right shade of green for your company, before someone else tries to tell you what they think it should be.

Dominick Guarino is chairman & CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI), (www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com) a national training and certification organization teaching air diagnostics and balancing, carbon monoxide safety, combustion analysis and tuning, performancebased selling, and more. Email him at domg@ncihvac. com or call NCI at 800/633-7058.