March 20, 2015
Over 500 dedicated individuals tasked with training the current and future HVACR workforce gathered for the HVAC Excellence 2015 HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference in Orlando, Florida.
David Boyd (Vice President of Appion Inc.) and Steve Coscia (President of Coscia Communications) opened the conference with some entertainment to show learning can also be fun. Having set the stage for the keynote, Dr. Michael Lanoutte helped attendees evaluate their teaching styles so they could identify if they are highly effective instructors.
EPA Regulatory Update
David Donaldson of the EPA Stratospheric Protection Division provided a regulatory updates pertaining to Hydroflourocarbons “HFCs”. He stated that HFCs a greenhouse gas if left unchecked will rise to nearly 20% of carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2050.
To address this issue, the EPA plans to take action on HFCs by: Using the SNAP program to approve climate friendly chemicals and prohibit some uses of most harmful chemical alternatives, Federal agencies will work to purchase cleaner alternatives to HFCs where feasible, Lead negotiations to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and Promote climate friendly alternatives to high Global Warming Potential “GWP” HFCs to reduce HFC emissions.
As a result of the EPA action plan they issued a new acceptability notice adding more alternatives (79 FR 62893) on October 21, 2014, issued new rules adding five flammable refrigerants with use conditions that adopt safety standards in February of 2015, proposed a status change rule to limit the use of HFCs (79 FR 46126) on August 6, 2014.
Donaldson further explained what most in the audience wanted to hear, that the EPA plans on reducing emissions of high GWP refrigerants by expanding the Section 608 program to cover HFCs. This would require technicians to be certified to purchase HFC refrigerants as well as service, install or dispose of most appliance containing HFCs. He anticipates a proposed rule to be published later this year allowing time for public feedback through 2016 and an updated test bank following the final rule.
Utilities Perspective on HVACR Training
When a large number of attendees wanted to know why a California utility was addressing a national conference in Florida, Howard Weiss the master of ceremonies answered “Because California and more specifically Southern California Edison is leading the way in energy efficiency. Utilities around the country are modeling their efficiency programs using Edison as the blueprint to follow”.
Ann Marie Blankenship of Southern California Edison began her presentation by asking attendees if they have heard of Title 24, if they know about acceptance testing or if they have heard of the Western Performance Alliance. With silence throughout the room she moved on to state that a study of residential HVAC equipment shows that 72% is oversized, 68% is improperly charged, 70% has inadequate airflow and 91% remains unchecked for combustion efficiency.
Blankenship explained that Southern California HVAC Optimization Program is a visionary paradigm for HVACR programs to holistically approach to the whole building. Through crosscutting utility program knowledge and resources, key stakeholder outreach and investment, and leveraged partnerships, Southern California Edison and valued partners have been able to affect a significant change in approach to installation, maintenance, and service in effort to transform the market.
Contractors Address HVACR Educators
Kip Bagley of EMCOR addressed unfilled jobs in the HVACR industry. He began by stating the fact that most HVACR educational programs have more job offers than students to fill the positions. However, did you know that some of the companies struggling to fill vacant job positions include: Carrier Commercial, Johnson Controls, Siemens, McKinstry and EMCOR? These employers are members of MSCA a contractors association comprised of a national network of prominent employers.
Bagley explained that MSCA contractors want to work with HVACR educational programs to fill the positions they have throughout North America. He stated many of the jobs going unfilled provide the potential to earn a six digit per year salary, health insurance, pensions, computers, service vehicle, uniforms, lifelong learning opportunities, college credits, certifications, and a career with unlimited opportunity for growth and advancement.
His goal in attending was to being a partnership between MSCA members and HVACR educational programs located across North America. Instructors interested in learning more about MSCA and working with their members should visit https://msca.org.
HVACR Industry Needs Assessment
Dr. Kari Arfstrom of the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation addressed a general session asking for all HVACR instructors and administrators to conduct a short study of the needs for HVACR technicians in the United States and Canada. Instructors are encouraged to participate and complete the survey by March 31, 2015 to help the industry understand the needs of the industry and the types of organizations fulfilling them.
Top Instructors Recognized
Each year HVAC Excellence takes time during their educators and trainers conference to recognize the individuals who have had the title of CMHE conferred upon them over the last year. The honor of welcoming the really COOL instructors who have recently had the title of CMHE bestowed upon them was given to Professor Eugene Silberstein “CMHE” of Suffolk Community College.
Silberstein began by stating that there are two types of instructors; those who teach for income and those who teach for outcome. He quickly stated that the teachers in attendance of the conference were teaching for outcome. He went on to explain the CMHE program was created by HVAC Excellence in 2004 to validate that an instructor has retained the knowledge necessary to teach the competencies of most HVAC/R program with the purpose of identifying an individual’s strengths or where they might need additional training. The credential provides more credibility to a program and it may lead an instructor to a promotion. In conclusion he stated you can’t teach what you don’t know, the exams show you what you don’t know so you can learn more and be a better instructor for those interested in learning.
Congratulations to the following individuals for earning their Certified Master HVAC/R Educator “CMHE” Credential in the last year: Ty Branaman (Southern Careers Institute – San Antonio, TX), Leon Charnetski (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College – Green Bay, WI), David Greth (Midwest Technical Institute – Moline, IL), Gary Harrison (Baton Rouge Community College – St Gabriel, LA), Michael Meyer (Northwestern Technical College – Rock Springs, GA), Christopher Miller (College of Western Idaho – Nampa, ID), Scott Oakley (Brownson Technical College – Anaheim, CA), Jason Obrzut (HVAC Technical Institute – Chicago, IL), Jeff Taylor and Chris Compton (HVACRedu.net – Heron, MT).
While the breakout sessions varied in topics to meet the attendees individual needs, they had one element in common – they were all full. With Disney World down the road there was no time for goofing around as one instructor put it, it was like being back in boot camp with 12 hours of sessions planned each day.
Some of the highlights included” Eugene Silberstein of Suffolk County Community College and Randy Petit of ESCO Group conducted a hands on class on how to teach the operation and troubleshooting of thermostatic expansion valves “TXV”, Grayson Fleming of Carrier Corporation had instructors standing out the door to learn about her 10 1/2 ways to make your training classes more engaging, a group of industry leading women conducted a session on teaching to a mixed demographic.
During the conference attendees were able to attend an exposition to learn about the latest innovations in: equipment, tools, test instruments, software, controls, refrigerants, recovery machines, curriculum, chemicals, tool kits, industry certifications, educational trainers, job placement and much more. Appion Inc. provided every full time educational program that did not have one a free recovery unit. In addition, Rectorseal provided a display to every full time educational program that showcases the components of a mini split system.
Some of the conference presenters have provided presentations to be shared and will be posted online in the near future.
While the 2015 conference is over, the learning and exchanging of ideas can continue. Anyone involved in training the current and future workforce of the industry is encouraged to join the HVACR Educators Group on LinkedIn.