We have all heard the expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." For HVAC contractors, that means approaching a building as a coordinated system rather than a structure that contains mechanical equipment. In October, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) explored this topic in detail when they held their inaugural building performance forum in Austin, Texas. Taking this approach offers your customers big opportunities for saving energy and increasing comfort while providing enhanced profit opportunities for your company. One of the speakers at the forum, Michelle Knaszak said "It's very important that you do your research before jumping in with both feet. You have to learn to crawl before you run a marathon." Michele is director of training and operations for Green Homes America. What are some of the elements of performance contracting?
According to Knaszak, the logical first step is to examine attic insulation and air sealing. "It's unbelievable how much more comfortable and energy-efficient a structure can be when you combine shell work with mechanical work" she said. Once you have addressed attic insulation and leakages in the air distribution system, you are ready to move on to doors and windows. Temperature controls, lighting and zoning also present potential, particularly in older structures.
Performance contracting represents a completely different thought process from selling heating and air-conditioning units, so it's critically important that you educate your organization and do your research before jumping in to this growing area. Once you have done your homework however and are ready to take the plunge, performance contracting offers virtually unlimited opportunities to significantly increase your labor efficiency and average ticket along with your profit margin. It is also a way to differentiate your firm from those companies who are simply looking to change out a condensing unit or furnace. Ellis Diels, chairman of ACCA's building performance Council perhaps said it best. "The time is now for the HVAC industry to realize its full potential. Only we have the expertise, skills, customer relationships, and marketing savvy to term building performance into a true market driven business and not some government funded boondoggle."
Something to ponder as you turn the page to 2013 in your business.