When I first came to work for this magazine in 1984, I was only four years out of college and still had those wide eyes associated with newness and wonder. I was working for a publication that focused on something I had never heard of — the HVACR Industry.

Green had a different meaning back then, at least as far as I was concerned. And technology — well technology consisted of mainframe computers, IBM Selectric typewriters, and the advent of an expensive, powerful, and a wicked cool machine known as the PC (personal computer).

Their coolness stemmed from the fact that they were developed from technology right out of the space age and they let me type stories without the need for erasers. They could do calculations faster than I could (not really saying much) and they marked the wake-up call for something called the “Information Age.”

In the HVACR world at the time, very few contracting firms even had computers (why did they need them?). But the potential of these devices quickly became obvious. So much so, that in May 1989, Contracting Business published it’s first specialized report on computerizing the business. And managment techniques evolved to integrate this new tool. We’ll call that evolution Business 2.0.

Then Al Gore invented the Internet (r-i-g-h-t!). Then came wireless technology. All of this combined with advances in computer science to not only further impact the business side of things (Business 3.0?), but now the technical aspects of the industry as well.

Modern mechanical equipment is intelligent: It measures, alarms, controls, and commmunicates. Some say it is truly smart.

As is the world in which we live. There is more focus than ever before on efficiency and indoor environmental cleanliness and comfort. To achieve these things, mechanical equipment not only communicates to each other, but to the world as well.

From a commercial building standpoint, this has led to something being dubbed “Buildings 2.0.” According to Anto Budiardjo, president of Clasma Events, Inc. (an organization formed to organize and manage technology events around the area of smart connected devices, and the subsequent impact to industry and business), Buildings 2.0 is “a vision that intricately intertwines buildings with Internet technologies.”

In essence, it’s the merger of information and HVACR technologies which moves the state of our industry from one that focuses on “smart systems” to one that focuses on “smart buildings.”

And that changes everything.

This evolution impacts the residential and light commercial markets as well.

For example, in a study conducted earlier this year by the Continental Automated Buildings Association’s Internet Home Alliance, 602 homeowners were surveyed about how they use their kitchens. The results showed that the kitchen functions as the nerve center of the house, and it’s from there that homeowners want to monitor and control their home’s energy use and manage their HVAC and security systems.

Residential equipment is produced today with microprocessors that control and provide the means to commmunicate over the phone, over the Internet, and wirelessly. This means the technology is in place to provide homeowners access to this type of technology.

So from the days of computerizing the business to current remote access and control, this industry continues to evolve. Don’t be wideeyed with newness and wonder. Tell me how you see this impacting your business. Write me at letters@contractingbusiness.com.

Welcome to the world of HVACR 2.0.