Smart thermostat market expected to double

The smart thermostat market is expected to more than double within the next five years. In 2018, the global smart thermostat market was valued at $689.8 million (USD) and could grow to more than $2.3 billion by 2024, reports the Mordor Intelligence research company.
A Cowen & Co report also indicates that about 60 million Americans used virtual person assistants and voice-controlled speakers during 2017 – Amazon Echo was used by 24 per cent and Google Home by 31 per cent for home control settings.
The Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) reports that despite a steep growth, experts say there might be some levelling-out of the market after a frenetic period between 2012 and 2017.
Whatever the growth rate, market leaders argue that smart thermostats won’t become a disappearing fad. “The main factors driving demand are convenience, energy conservation, energy tracking, and potential savings,” reports HRAI. Smart thermostat manufacturer Ecobee suggests smart thermostats can save an average of 23 per cent off energy bills, and Nest Systems claim their unit can potentially save 10 to 12 per cent on heating and 15 per cent on cooling.
“While educated customers are seen as a threat by some installers, others note that people buying smart thermostats and knowing more about their capability are more likely to upgrade to premium add-ons that the HVAC contractor is usually best positioned to supply and install,” explains HRAI.
Some cautions for contractors include studying up in a fast-changing sector to ensure they are recommending systems that offer good value, choosing manufacturers that are working on industry standards and compatibility, and paying attention to user experience.
From a contractor’s perspective, smart home systems represent a real opportunity – not just for expanding revenue or margins, but also for “suggestion selling” during slow months, HRAI reports.

CIPH holds town hall meeting as industry at a crossroads with new technologies, new players 

By Simon Blake 
New construction technologies and new players that operate outside the traditional supply chain are bringing a rapid change to the construction environment in Canada. 
A move to modular construction of rooms or entire suites is already beginning to have a dramatic effect. “What we are seeing now are high steel buildings that are being filled with plug and play modules that are being contracted offshore,” remarked Brad Cornelissen, national sales manager for OS&B, Oakville, Ont. at a town hall meeting organized by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) on Oct. 24 at the Mississauga Convention Centre, Mississauga, Ont. 
The meeting was designed to kick off a series of critical conversations with CIPH members as the organization’s board presents its visions, objectives and strategic initiatives for the next three years. Representatives from manufacturers, wholesalers and manufacturer’s agents participated. 
“We’re at an ‘inflection point’ – a turning point calling for dramatic change,” said CIPH chairman Andrew Dyck, Barclay Sales, Coquitlam, B.C. 
A 2018 survey of CIPH member companies found that 94 percent of company leaders believe we are operating in “an age of disruption” and 91 percent suggested that the industry needs to “reinvent its business before someone else does,” reported Dirk Beveridge, president and CEO of the U.S.-based Beveridge Consulting Group, via video. 
There are a number of factors causing this, he added. These include non-traditional players such as Amazon entering the market, the traditional manufacturer distributor supply chain is no longer the only way to reach the market, an ageing workforce and too many businesses without succession plans. 
The way forward 
Participants at the Town Hall were split into groups to identify issues and suggest solutions – things that CIPH member companies need to do and things that CIPH itself needs to do to prepare for the future. And to keep the conversation focused, every table was given one of four themes that are disrupting or challenging the industry: 
Manufacturing and distributor partnerships 
E-commerce 
Non-traditional competition 
An ageing workforce 
If there was a common thread, it was that people in the industry need to keep an open mind and engage in non-traditional thinking. Managers and workers alike must be trained on new and emerging technologies. The solutions are not going to be easy. As has been said so many times in the past, the industry needs to do a better job of getting the word out about career opportunities. 
Non-traditional competition in the supply chain may require that supply channel relationships be redefined. 
And it’s not just the skilled trade workforce that is ageing; many people in the management level at manufacturers and distributors are approaching retirement, so succession planning in CIPH member companies is critical. 
CIPH intends to hold further town hall meetings. Members present Oct. 24 suggested working with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC), with CIPH partners on a number of issues, to bring contractors into the conversation. 
For more information, please visit www.ciph.com. 

AHR Expo fast approaching 

The AHR Expo is a busy three days for manufacturers like Bradford White.
North America’s largest annual HVAC/R trade show is less than three months away. The 2020 version will cover over 500,000 sq. feet of exhibit space when it takes place Feb. 3-5 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.  
Those attending can expect to explore booths filled with building automation, control technologies, alternative heating and cooling methods, time-saving tools and instruments, and other innovations that support an efficient job site – not to mention the latest equipment and technologies from just about every manufacturer in the HVAC/R industry. 
There will also be more than 200 free seminars, new product and technology presentations, professional certification and continuing education courses. Each year, the AHR education program looks at some of the opportunities and challenges through a series of sessions hosted by leaders from every sector. This year, the AHR Expo will add a series of HVAC/R trend discussions led by members of the AHR Expo Expert Council.  
The new product and technology theatre will feature exhibitor presentations throughout the show. This year, four 2020 Innovation Award winners and seven finalists will present, including winners: Danfoss (Green Building), Interplay Learning (Software), Infinitum Electric (Ventilation), and Matelex (Tools and Instruments), and finalists: Emerson (Heating), Sensirion, Inc. (IAQ), NIBCO INC. (Plumbing), Belimo Americas (Building Automation), Smardt Chiller Group Inc. (Cooling), BCA Technologies, Inc. (Software), and American Aldes (Ventilation). 
AHR Expo attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in professional development courses through the ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI) and short courses/professional development seminars approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that can apply toward maintaining their professional engineer’s license. Those participating are required to register and pay tuition fees in advance of the show. 
A “MyShowPlanner” tool is available to assist attendees in building personalized show agendas. Registration for the event is open. For more information and to register, please visit www.ahrexpo.com. 

Developing trust is critical, conference participants hear 

Attendees participated in numerous hydronic heating and business seminars.
By Leah Den Hartogh 
Technical expertise is important, but developing your customer trust is critical, 303 hydronic heating specialists heard at the opening breakfast of the 2019 Canadian Hydronics Conference. 
“The most important part of business is trust. Don’t worry too much about sales and marketing,” said keynote speaker Toby Shannan, chief support officer at Shopify, Ottawa, Ont., an international e-commerce company. The son of a contractor, Shannan connected each of his points back to the hydronics trade. “When things go wrong our customers are in deep (trouble),” he added. Instead of working in the here and now, business owners should start looking more towards long-term goals. “Do you make decisions that will stand the test of time,” he asked. 
That was just the beginning of 18 hydronic and business sessions at the event, along with hydronic heating only trade show, held at Ottawa Conference and Event Centre Sept. 24-25. 
Seminar topics included things like integrating solar thermal with hydronic systems, radiant cooling, modulating condensing gas boilers, and snowmelt systems (see feature article on page 28 for more details on snowmelt systems). 
Some manufacturers brought equipment to demonstrate.
Do the math, contractors advised 
During a lively and technical presentation on variable speed pumps, David Holdorf of Taco Comfort Solutions., Cranston, Rhode Island, said it is important to do the math. “Professionals do the math. Amateurs wing it,” he warned.  
A sense of humour is needed for all lines of work that a contractor might do. “How many times have been asked by a homeowner to check out their furnace, and you walk downstairs to find a boiler,” asked Holdorf. Homeowners don’t know much about what is going on down there. All they want is control, he added.  
He also warned the group what might happen if the system is over-circulating/pumping – it can reduce the efficiency of the boiler. That being said, Holdorf added that the reason a contractor would want to choose a variable speed circulator is because it saves energy. The bells, whistles, buttons and lights are all just bonuses, he joked.  
Looking to the future 
A panel discussion looked at where the industry is going in the future. Right off the top, panellists offered advice. “Give (customers) what they want; they will love you for it,” said Murray Pound, proprietor of Generations Master Builder, Sarnia, Ont. Plumbing & HVAC’s own hydronic heating specialist, Roy Collver, president of OTBC Inc., Qualicum Beach, B.C. and Gord Cooke, president of Building Knowledge Canada, Cambridge, Ont., were also part of this panel discussion.  
Each looked at different aspects of the industry. Cooke explored the various changes in codes, talked about energy advisors, and discussed the building process. 
He expects that the industry is headed towards net-zero homes by around 2030. “If you think we are ahead, we are behind,” he said, noting that California is already on track to accomplish net-zero by 2020. This will create more opportunities to sell heat pumps as homes become more efficient. 
Collver attempted to “clear the fog.” He reports that by 2050 the government says Canada will be carbon neutral, but that’s not good enough, he added. “We should be aiming for 2030.” The hydronics industry can contribute by maximizing efficiency, upgrading current systems, developing fossil fuel-free heat sources, and cooperating with building scientists. 
 Water quality critical
Contractors were able to speak directly to manufacturers at the hydronics only trade show.
A panel on water quality looked at a slew of different topics. “Water quality is the Achilles heel of the hydronic industry,” remarked Kirk Nagus, general manager, Axiom Industries, Saskatoon. Impurities can reduce the life of the system. 
Adam Hedden, account manager and Matthew Reid, outside sales, for Equipco Ltd., Vancouver, focused their presentation on just that. They looked at air separators, dirt separators, or combi air/dirt separators. “If we can put the right pieces in place, we can make sure that these systems last a lifetime,” explained Reid.  
At the end of the conference, Uponor’s Bill Hooper was presented with the CHC Award of Merit for demonstrating “an outstanding commitment to the advancement of the hydronics industry in Canada.” It was a popular choice; a shocked Hooper received a standing ovation from the audience.    
The next Canadian Hydronics Conference will take place Nov. 4-5 at the Coliseum of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver as part of the CIPHEX West 2020 trade show. In 2021, the CHC plans to hold another stand-alone national hydronics conference. The location and details have yet to be announced. 
For more information, please visit www.ciph.com/hydronics. 

Construction investment up slightly

Residential construction investment, September 2019.
Investment in building construction increased by one per cent in September to $15.6 billion across Canada. This can be attributed by an increase in both the residential and non-residential sectors. Residential saw an increase of 1.2 per cent to $10.8 billion and the non-residential sector increased 0.4 per cent to $4.9 billion. Total investment grew 2.4 per cent from the second to third quarter.
Ontario is leading the pack in residential investment. In total, five provinces saw an increase. Quebec had a strong September as well. Nationally, investment in single and multi-family dwellings increased compared to August. Single-family increased by 1.4 per cent to $5.4 billion and multi-family increased by 1.1 per cent to $5.3 billion. In Ontario, investment in multi-unit dwellings rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 1.9 per cent since the previous month to $2.1 billion.
The non-residential sector increased by only a small margin of 0.4 per cent to $4.9 billion in September. The commercial sector increased 0.7 per cent to $2.8 billion, with Quebec posting the largest increase of $11.2 million due to ongoing developments in the eco-neighbourhood of Estimauville in Quebec City. Nationally, the industrial and institutional components were largely unchanged.
The investment was up in every component of the non-residential sector in the third quarter with the largest increase in British Columbia at 5.5 per cent. The total investment in building construction grew 2.4 per cent from the second quarter to $46.4 billion, driven by an increased investment in single homes in Ontario (10.4 per cent increase).
Quarterly investment in non-residential new construction rose 11.5 per cent year-over-year to $7 billion in the third quarter, reflecting gains in the commercial component.
Investment in residential new construction was largely unchanged year-over-year at $16.6 billion in the third quarter. Lower investment in singles (7.3 per cent decrease) and doubles (2 per cent decrease) was offset by an increase in row homes (13.6 per cent increase) and apartments (5.2 per cent increase).

New B.C. Building Code will allow 12-storey wood buildings

The Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC) in downtown Prince George, B.C., is constructed using a repeatable and expandable system which can be used on other building types and sizes. Image provided by Province of British Columbia.
An updated British Columbia Building and Plumbing Code will enable local governments to allow 12-storey tall wood buildings. This doubles the previous maximum height of six storeys.
Thirteen communities have signed on to be early adopters of tall wood buildings using mass timber technology. “Increasing and finding new uses of British Columbia forestry products means we are creating beautiful energy-efficient homes while supporting jobs and local economies,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “Changes to the building code to promote efficiency is part of our CleanBC plan to reduce emissions in new construction while improving energy efficiency in existing buildings.”
The move to large wood buildings has been controversial in many parts of the country. Ontario only recently amended it’s building code to allow six-storey wood structures, up from four. The degree of expansion and contraction in wood buildings can cause challenges with piping and ductwork and fire officials have expressed concern about the potential fire risk.
The new B.C. Building Code is also designed to increase the supply of homes by allowing secondary suites in multi-family buildings (duplexes and townhouses). The regulations remove maximum size restrictions but will require fire separations between residences.
Energy Step Code requirements have also been introduced for public sector buildings, such as hospitals, schools, community centres and university classrooms. (For more information about the Energy Step Code check out www.plumbingandhvac.ca/b-c-building-code-changes-will-offer-more-flexibility-to-meet-efficiency-requirements/).
Changes to the B.C. Building Code are also designed to enhance the safety of residents. These changes include requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in commercial buildings and assembly buildings – such as schools, offices and places of worship, increased lighting in recycling rooms, and additional requirements for fire alarms and exits on roof-top enclosures – such as patios.
The building code changes apply to building permit applications on or after Dec. 12. The B.C. Building Code establishes minimum requirements for health, safety, accessibility, fire and structural protection, and energy and water efficiency.
The code applies to building construction and renovation throughout B.C., except for some federal lands and the City of Vancouver – which has its own building bylaw. An online version of the new B.C. Building Code is available free of charge and printed copies are available at a reduced rate.

Alta. government reports impact of carbon tax on economy

The Alberta government has released a report which highlights the impact of the former provincial carbon tax and the current federal carbon tax. The Economic Assessment of Climate Policy in Alberta shows that if the former Climate Leadership Plan were still in place there would be between 10,000 and 16,000 fewer jobs, the GDP would be reduced by $2 billion in 2020, and households would face $840 in household costs per year.
“The release of this report clearly demonstrates that the previous government’s plan would have further slowed economic growth and taken thousands of dollars away from Alberta families,” said Jason Nixon, Alberta minister of environment and parks.
“We know that Alberta can achieve emissions reductions through a more innovative plan, but at a lower cost to job creators, and without a punitive tax on Alberta’s hard-working families.”
Alberta has created an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requires industries to report emissions, and has regulation that requires large industries to reduce emissions. Alberta has had climate policies in place since 1999, the government states.

World Toilet Day raises awareness in lack of sanitation services

November 19 marks World Toilet Day and is designed to bring attention to the lack thereof in many parts of the world.
Worldwide, there are 4.2 billion people that live without safely managed sanitation services, while 673 million still practise open defecation and three billion lack basic handwashing facilities. Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 432,000 deaths every year, reports the World Health Organization.
World Toilet Day was established in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization and was made an official UN day in 2013. “Safely managed sanitation” means that a person uses hygienic toilet facilities that are not shared with other households and where excrement is separated from human contact and safely disposed of.
Social media campaigns have been created by industry-related manufacturers to bring awareness to the importance of proper sanitation services. Lixil, Mississauga, Ont. created #whereisthetoilet.
The sanitation problem is so significant that the UN made achieving equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 one of its Sustainable Development Goals. Lixil has committed to improving the livelihood of 100 million people by 2025.
“One out of every three people in the world today live without access to proper sanitation.” said Troy Benavidez, vice president of public affairs of Lixil Americas, “With our SATO products, we have been able to assist 15 million people around the world to provide them access to basic sanitation.”

Provinces ranked by energy efficiency

A Canadian energy efficiency scorecard puts B.C. at the top and Nfld. and Labrador at the bottom. Efficiency Canada, an advocacy group based at Carleton University in Ottawa, has released its 2019 Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard that ranks the provinces out of a score of 100.
The Canadian scorecard – similar to the state scorecard released annually by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) – measures policy progress on energy efficiency programs, enabling policies, buildings, transportation, and industry.
Radiant piping in the polished concrete floors and LED lighting are among the energy-efficient features.
This year’s rankings are as follows:
British Columbia
Quebec
Ontario
Nova Scotia
Manitoba
Alberta
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick
Saskatchewan
Newfoundland and Labrador
“Imagine thinking of all that energy waste from our homes, businesses and industry as a resource, just like natural gas, oil or wind turbines,” said Corey Diamond, Efficiency Canada executive director. “Now imagine harvesting that ‘resource’ in every community across Canada, creating jobs and meeting our climate change commitments. At a time when much of the country is at odds on our energy future, boosting energy efficiency is surely something all Canadians can agree on.”
B.C. leads in building, enabling strategies, and industry, whilst Quebec is the national leader in transportation efficiency, and Nova Scotia topped the results in energy efficiency programs.
B.C. Step Code praised
“British Columbia received the top score because of policies like the Energy Step Code that create a clear pathway towards net-zero energy-ready buildings, natural gas efficiency targets, and support for vehicle electrification. Quebec scores second, and is the national transportation leader,” explains Dr. Brendan Haley, the study’s lead author and the group’s policy director.
Quebec is Canada’s vehicle electrification leader with the best metrics related to the number of electric vehicle registrations and charging stations. Their cap and trade system supports other energy efficiency programs, reports Efficiency Canada.
“The province is also a leader in energy efficiency research and development. It had the largest share of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grant funding for energy-related research going to energy efficiency projects.”
Ontario led Canada in electricity savings in 2017 and has developed building codes and appliance standards that are among the most energy-efficient in North America, the report states/ It is the only province with a mandatory building energy reporting and benchmarking program. Ontario lost points due to “regressive policy changes, including cutbacks in electricity program budgets and cancellation of the Conservation First Framework, cancellation of electric vehicle charging policies, removal of a provision in the building code that would enable electric vehicle charging, and cancellation of a cap and trade system with revenues used to bolster energy efficiency,” per the report.
Nova Scotia leads in energy efficiency programs, with high electricity savings and a policy framework that makes investments in non-electric energy efficiency. They also have programs that target energy poverty.
“Today’s launch of the Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard tracks progress across the country, creating a friendly competition amongst the provinces so we can reach the potential that energy efficiency has to offer,” added Diamond.
Every province has strengths and areas for improvement, said Haley. Energy efficiency can be described as the energy saved with “smart” building technology and appliances. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 40 per cent of global Paris Agreement GHG reduction commitments can be met with energy efficiency measures, such as better insulation, smart home heating and cooling technologies, LED lighting, and high-efficiency appliances.
An earlier report by Efficiency Canada estimated that 118,000 annual jobs would be created between now and 2030 by implementing the energy-saving policies found in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
The territories were not included in the scoring due to “challenges accessing information and some methodological challenges finding useful comparisons.” In the future, Efficiency Canada hopes to include the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut in the study.

R-410A replacement refrigerant receives A1 designation

Honeywell’s new stationary air conditioning refrigerant, Solstice N41, has received an official A1 designation from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Solstice N41 – R-466A – is the first A1, non-flammable, reduced global warming potential (GWP), R-410A replacement refrigerant developed for stationary air conditioning systems, reports Honeywell. It will be commercially available in 2020. A1 refrigerants are considered among the safest refrigerants with low toxicity and zero flammability
“We developed Solstice N41 to address the many regulatory and safety challenges facing the industry,” said George Koutsaftes, Honeywell Advanced Materials president. “This product is the first non-flammable refrigerant developed as an R-410A alternative, and is also better for the environment, energy-efficient, and cost-effective for the end-user with minimal conversion required.”
Regulations like Europe’s F-Gas regulation require the phase-down of high global warming potential refrigerants, prompting the HVAC industry to seek new alternatives.
“The current industry standard refrigerant, R-410A, which was developed and brought to market by Honeywell, must be replaced with an energy-efficient, lower-GWP solution with similar or better performance,” reports Honeywell.
Early testing indicates that Solstice N41 requires minimal changes to equipment and no additional training for installation and repair technicians, allowing original equipment manufacturers to convert from R-410A.
It is being tested by over 15 OEMs and leading compressor manufacturers, having accumulated more than 30,000 hours of testing in different applications such as commercial AC (VRF, rooftops) and residential AC (unitary).