Industry Blogs

Across the home improvement industry, public sentiment regarding wellness and overall health is at an all-time high. The average person has access to more information than ever before, as well as products and services that play an instrumental role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The HVAC industry is no exception to this shift in consumer Read more

Across the home improvement industry, public sentiment regarding wellness and overall health is at an all-time high. The average person has access to more information than ever before, as well as products and services that play an instrumental role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Homeowners want to know their HVAC system is improving their indoor air quality, as they gain understanding of the connection between air quality and health. ©Trusty Joe

The HVAC industry is no exception to this shift in consumer sentiment, as homeowners demand HVAC solutions that not only are efficient and cost effective but also play a key part in ensuring a healthier indoor environment. Homeowners want to know their HVAC system is improving their indoor air quality, as they gain understanding of the connection between air quality and health.

This is where an HVAC professional can help explain the importance of a right-sized HVAC system equipped to provide quality airflow, indoor humidity management, and air filtration regardless of the season or climate.

The emerging healthy homes trend represents a huge opportunity for HVAC professionals who have access to complete comfort and air quality solutions.  There is a unique opportunity to explain how a healthier home is possible with an efficient HVAC system that filters small particulates in the 2.5-micron range out of the air, and monitors and controls humidity levels across the whole home. Small particles in this size range will escape basic filters and may be inhaled by occupants in the home, negatively affecting health.

When it comes to indoor humidity, very dry conditions can be problematic for one’s health and comfort and on the contrary, high humidity poses comfort and mold-growth risks as well. Dealers should walk homeowners through the process of why maintaining a happy medium (30-50% indoor relative humidity) is critical.

Highlighting the importance of improving a home’s indoor air quality opens the door to selling additional solutions to customers. The conversations are evolving beyond just the heating and cooling equipment, and instead educating homeowners in a way that points him or her in the direction of a healthier home.

Ideally, what an HVAC professional should focus on when selling a solution is arming their customers with the right information to ensure a healthier indoor environment. In doing so, homeowners will organically recognize the critical nature of an HVAC solution that considers their own health and wellness. Additionally, the HVAC professional can position themselves within the customer’s inner circle of trust by not pushing the sale, but instead learning about the homeowner and addressing the problems that can be solved with the right HVAC solution.

Over the next year, the healthier home trend is expected to grow and will continue playing a major role in the HVAC solutions that dealers can provide. This trend brings together the HVAC professionals and others in the home improvement and building ecosystem to inform and assist customers in creating a home with the best indoor air quality.

We can expect to see all players across the housing industry come together to set goals, talk about challenges, and ultimately deliver on a house that’s more comfortable, efficient, and healthier in order to serve this growing consumer demand. We’re looking forward to helping drive this innovation forward and help our HVAC professionals understand the key role they play in educating homeowners about the importance of indoor air quality and creating a healthier home.

Mike Topitzhofer is the National Business Development Manager – Building Science for American Standard. As a building science advocate through the HVAC manufacturer, he works to increase energy efficiency, comfort, long term durability and IAQ in homes.

By Pete DeMarco, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Research, IAPMO Health officials in Hong Kong have determined that plumbing systems in certain high-rise buildings are implicated in recent cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Based on the limited information available, it’s clear that transmission paths that would allow for the virus to spread between individual apartment Read more

By Pete DeMarco, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Research, IAPMO

Health officials in Hong Kong have determined that plumbing systems in certain high-rise buildings are implicated in recent cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Based on the limited information available, it’s clear that transmission paths that would allow for the virus to spread between individual apartment units in at least one high-rise building have been identified. In order to understand how this has happened, it’s important to have some very basic knowledge of how wastewater systems work in high-rise buildings and to also look back at the SARS outbreak of 2003; the parallels are striking. In fact, the SARS virus is also a strain of coronavirus, so it’s not surprising that COVID-19 has been identified as having the potential to spread through plumbing systems.

COVID-19 coronavirus, coronavirus, COVID-19 coronavirus in plumbing systems, plumbing, IAPMO, Health Aspects of PlumbingHigh-rise buildings present unique challenges in plumbing design. The following simplified explanation is intended to help illustrate the problem: When toilets in high-rise buildings are flushed, fecal matter and wastewater are discharged into a vertical wastewater pipe, called a “drainage stack.” As the wastewater descends in the stack, it creates pressure changes within the pipe. The wastewater flowing down a stack will push air down ahead of it and drag air behind it, creating both positive and negative pressures within the drainage system. These pressures can affect trap seals by either siphoning the water or pushing the water out of the trap. A second vertical pipe, called a “vent stack,” typically runs parallel to the drainage stack and introduces air into the drainage stack every fifth floor to avert excessive changes that could deplete trap seals and allow contaminated air and aerosols to enter apartments on other floors.

When the SARS outbreak occurred in 2003, problems with dry traps were indicated, allowing contaminated air and wastewater aerosols to enter into apartments on lower floors through floor drains that are required by Chinese and many other Asian national construction codes. A full explanation of how the SARS outbreak occurred and technical solutions providing health and safety associated with proper plumbing practices can be found in The Health Aspects of Plumbing, a publication produced by the World Health Organization and the World Plumbing Council.

Sadly, with the current coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, history seems to have repeated itself. According to the Associated Press, a 2016 Hong Kong Housing Department policy change has allowed tenants in certain high-rise apartments to alter the pipe design in their bathrooms without requiring an inspection by a plumbing official, causing the problem that might have helped spread COVID-19. In one of the apartment units, the vent pipe was completely disconnected inside the bathroom, apparently by the occupant, which provided a pathway for contaminated air to enter the apartment, especially when the bathroom ceiling fans were activated. When health officials became aware of this problem, the building was evacuated, hopefully limiting the number of additional illnesses among building residents.

Can the COVID-19 coronavirus be spread in high-rise buildings in the United States in a similar manner? In short, the answer is yes, but unlikely. Due to U.S. plumbing codes, any modification to a building’s water, waste or vent system must be performed by a qualified professional and necessitates an inspection by a code official. In addition, wastewater stacks and vent pipes are typically hidden behind walls in high-rise buildings, reducing the opportunity for residents to easily cut into pipes and create unsafe conditions.

Both the SARS and the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks in Hong Kong illustrate the importance of proper plumbing design and practice in keeping building residents safe from disease and the profound problems that can develop when unqualified individuals decide to work on building water systems. The axiom “the Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation” is more than a slogan. Improper deviations to building plumbing systems can, and indeed often do, result in very significant loss of life and property.

We have made it to the new year, a new decade. And with the turn of every calendar comes the rush of industry trade shows. Next week we will be traveling to Las Vegas for the IBS/KBIS Show or the Builder’s/Kitchen & bath Show. Following that, we will be in Orlando for the AHR Show Read more

We have made it to the new year, a new decade. And with the turn of every calendar comes the rush of industry trade shows. Next week we will be traveling to Las Vegas for the IBS/KBIS Show or the Builder’s/Kitchen & bath Show. Following that, we will be in Orlando for the AHR Show, North America’s largest HVAC show. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about World of Concrete, back in Vegas. The goal is to see, feel and test new products, learn and network with fellow attendees.

10 Tips for a Better Trade Show Experience, AHR Expo, Builders Show, IBS, KBIS, World of Concrete, navigating trade shows

The AHR Expo—Feb 3-5, Orlando—is one of the largest annual North American trade shows.

When attending these trade shows, it is best to have a plan. Having attended dozens of these show in the past, I have come up with some tips and strategies for a better trade show experience.

  1. Map Out Your Plan — All of these shows have corresponding websites with maps, and a list of exhibitors and events. I can’t stress enough to map out your day so you are the most efficient with your time, energy and steps on the trade show floor. (ahrexpo.com & www.buildersshow.com & www.worldofconcrete.com) Downloading the appropriate trade show apps is a must.
  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes & Clothing — We all want to look good, and professional, but gone are the days of stuffy apparel. I’d rather feel comfortable and fresh at the end of the day than out of sorts, sweaty and dogs a barking.
  3. Give Yourself Enough Time — The stress of a trade show can be daunting in and of itself. Take as much time as you need to take a deep breath and move freely on the show floor. It’s always a good idea to come in the day or night before a show to make sure all is in order and registration for the show is set. If you are planning a night out, make sure you make any necessary reservations ahead of time.
  4. Afterparty Over-Indulging — We all love to go out and enjoy ourselves, especially after a long day at a show. There are numerous manufacturer parties, dinners, soirees, etc. where one can relax and wind down. But staying out all night—and drinking—can be fun, and up to your discretion, but it isn’t advisable, especially if you intend to be at the show the following day. Nobody is impressed with the over-perspired, alcohol lingering on breath, bags under the eyes, headache pounding visit from on overserved attendee. Pro Tip: Keep hydrated and carry a protein bar just in case you get the munchies. The IAQ in these large buildings is usually very poor and the air can get dry.10 Tips for a Better Trade Show Experience, AHR Expo, Builders Show, IBS, KBIS, World of Concrete, navigating trade shows
  5. Plan Accordingly for Transportation — Most of the time at busy trade shows, transportation can, well, be a bitch, especially after a show. Keep this in mind as long taxi lines will form to and from the shows. Download your favorite rideshare app so you are locked and loaded.
  6. Travel in Packs — If traveling in groups, try to stay in one place or area. It alleviates costs on transportation and makes meetings much more amenable.
  7. Be Prepared to Exchange Contact Info — Make sure you have business cards on hand and be prepared to exchange info digitally, so make sure your phone is charged or bring extra chargers! Also, make sure you have proper badges for the show. For example, attendee, exhibitor and press badges all provide different access and different access times. Make sure you understand the limitations of your particular given badge.
  8. Follow-up with Contacts — Once the show is over, what it your end game? What better way to measure the results of a show personally than to document leads, follow up with new contacts, and were you satisfied with your expectations of information, contacts and overall impressions?
  9. Cellular/WiFi Service — Most shows do not offer WiFi on the show floor, or if they do, it usually sucks. There are certain spots at different venues you may be able to sneak a signal, maybe. Make sure your service is covered in the areas where you are, or be prepared to go without in the dark recesses of a concrete building.
  10. If Unable to Attend … — Be sure to follow your favorite social media outlets that are attending (Search Mechanical Hub on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) and keep up to date on what’s going on from the show floor. First of the year trade show events are when companies have big product announcements, launches and press briefings.

Good luck, and have a great trade show experience!

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, study finds In a study commissioned by Xylem Inc. that evaluated HVAC systems in a number of South Carolina school buildings, hydronic systems outperformed all other systems, including VRF, in terms of lower energy use, cost and life expectancy, by as much as 24%. “With HVAC systems dictating a substantial amount Read more

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, study finds

In a study commissioned by Xylem Inc. that evaluated HVAC systems in a number of South Carolina school buildings, hydronic systems outperformed all other systems, including VRF, in terms of lower energy use, cost and life expectancy, by as much as 24%.

“With HVAC systems dictating a substantial amount of the overall energy use of commercial buildings, the results shed light on the importance of evaluating varying system-to-system costs before installation,” said Kyle DelPiano, Business Development Director, CBS Market, Xylem. “More than ever, energy-efficient practices are driving the construction industry toward more sustainable solutions, and this study proves long-term cost savings that can’t be overlooked when making the choice between hydronic and VRF systems.”

To compare and contrast HVAC systems according to their 30-year life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA), the Xylem study analyzed seven elementary and middle schools located in South Carolina Climate Zone 3A, a humid, warm climate. The cost analysis included upfront installed cost, replacement cost allocations and ongoing energy and maintenance cost of the following system types:

  • Variable refrigerant flow heat pumps (VRF)
  • Water source heat pumps (WSHP)
  • Ground source heat pumps (GSHP)
  • Direct expansion rooftop units (DX RTU)
  • Water cooled chillers (WCC)
  • Air-Cooled Chillers (ACC)

The findings of the study revealed that the schools with WSHP, GSHP and WCC systems displayed energy use levels that were 30%, 41% and 25% better than the national median for elementary and middle schools, respectively. The replacement cost allocation also acknowledged that the tested hydronic systems operate effectively for approximately 25 years, as opposed to the 15-year replacement estimation for VRF systems.

The tested VRF systems required replacement a decade earlier because of their tendency to work harder during heating cycles, bringing proof of long-term cost savings to the forefront of the conversation surrounding sustainability and hydronic HVAC system efficiency.

Hydronic systems outperform VRF, hydronics, radiant heating, radiant cooling, plumbing, heating, HVAC, hot water circulation

Replacement allocations had an impact on the life-cycle cost analysis (see yellow bars) and drastically reduced the cost effectiveness of equipment with 15-year life expectancies.

Considerable benefits of the hydronic HVAC systems included lower energy usage intensity and cost, wider range of maintenance flexibility and longer life expectancy.

The full research study can be found here: https://bit.ly/35AtpXb. For more information about Xylem, visit www.xylem.com.

 

Distributor sales incentives and rebate programs can be deployed to accomplish strategic goals within the distribution channel. These goals might include structuring promotions to drive sales of high margin products, move old inventory to free up space or speed up the adoption rates of new products. There are important considerations to take into account to Read more

Distributor sales incentives and rebate programs can be deployed to accomplish strategic goals within the distribution channel. These goals might include structuring promotions to drive sales of high margin products, move old inventory to free up space or speed up the adoption rates of new products.

There are important considerations to take into account to ensure the success of a distributor incentive program. Utilize these best practices for maximum ROI.

Analyze Your Audience
The success of your distributor sales incentives and rebate program depends on being able to personalize your marketing to your distributor sales reps (DSRs). During the registration process, make sure you are collecting accurate contact, firmographic and demographic data to personalize your promotional marketing.

Align Promotions with Organizational Goals
Having specific, measurable outcomes in mind will allow you to structure your distributor incentive program to achieve those outcomes. The ability to run multiple promotions by product, region or organization can allow manufacturers to be really granular in tackling specific objectives.

Strategically Select Rewards
Your rewards should be scalable to different levels of performance. After all, you wouldn’t want to award your VIP accounts and part-time customers the same amount of value. The types of reward you offer also depends on the length of your promotions. Debit-card based SPIFFs and rebates are more suitable for short-term promotions, whereas merchandise rewards or incentive travel would make more sense for long-term, loyalty-based promotions.

Regularly Communicate with Your Distributor Sales Reps
To maximize the effectiveness of your incentive program, you should strive to regularly provide participants with relevant, engaging communication. This communication includes content on your program website, monthly statements, seasonal emails and promotional marketing via email, SMS and push notifications.

Track Distributor Incentive KPIs
KPIs – key performance indicators – are metrics you can track to ensure your incentive program is on pace to achieve its goals. These include site visits, the percentage of participants submitting claims, email open and click rates and sales-related metrics. It’s important to have software in place to monitor these KPIs and capitalize on opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling and re-engagement with your DSRs.

Monitoring KPIs gives you insight into account engagement and the success of each promotion.

Offer Sales Enablement for Eligible Products
Building brand preference depends on enabling your DSRs to effectively sell your products to dealers, contractors and wholesalers. There are a variety of ways to offer this enablement, such as:

  • Creating interactive quizzes based on content or training videos;
  • Requiring mandatory virtual or on-site training to qualify for promotions;
  • Utilizing your reward program communications to educate participants on your product lines; and
  • Rewarding participants for attending important trade shows.

Provide Convenient Platforms for Claims Submissions
In order to boost participation and maximize the quality of the data you receive, focus on making it easy for DSRs to submit and validate claims. Document upload tools allow DSRs to snap a picture of an invoice on their phones and attach it alongside their sales claims. Furthermore, this will make it easier for you to validate claims and quickly assign rewards. Doing so provides a better UX and will maximize the effectiveness of rewards as a behavioral modification tool.

Providing mobile-ready platforms for participants to access your rewards program and upload sales claim verifications will ensure the success of your distributor sales incentive program.

Switch Things Up to Keep Your Program Fresh
Even an effective incentive program can reach a point of diminishing return. It’s important to switch up your promotions to keep your program exciting and interesting. Point multipliers and limited-time promotions can quickly boost sales growth or re-engage inactive accounts. And adding elements of gamification, such as leaderboards, spin-to-wins, achievement badges and on-the-spot point bonuses will make your program engaging and rewarding from end-to-end.

Seek Feedback and Analyze Results
Finally, you will want to arm yourself with data points to continuously improve your program. Seeking participants on surveys will help you add enhancements to your program and personalize your relationship with distributors. Analyzing KPIs and calculating ROI helps you prove program success and equip you with insights to make your next distributor sales incentive or rebate program even more successful!

For more incentive program strategies and best practices, check out Incentive Solutions’ complementary eBook, The Incentive Program Playbook.

Mark Herbert is President and CEO of Incentive Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience overseeing business operations within the incentives industry. Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 220 programs, many of which are in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Mark Herbert may be reached at mherbert@incentivesolutions.com.