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Join the National Green Week celebration

Forward Thinking

Spearheaded by the Green Education Foundation (GEF), National Green Week is an annual event that empowers schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects or activities. From the first full week in February until the end of Earth Month (April), participating districts, schools, classrooms and youth groups choose a week and select from one of GEF’s sustainability focused programs to be their ‘green theme.’ National Green Week 2014 kicked off February 3, and participants can choose ANY week until April 25 to be designated their Green Week. With over 10,000 schools and 5 million students participating, it is the largest functioning sustainability education program running.


GEF’s sustainability programs are all free and are designed to be easily incorporated into the classroom. Each theme provides five days of standards-based lesson sets, activities, recommended reading, sustainability tips, contests and more. Possible green themes include:

  1. Green Energy Challenge – Empowers children to take small steps towards…

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U.S. HVAC Industry – 2013 Review and 2014 Outlook

Climate Conversations

2013_2014 As we kick off 2014, it is important to look at the past year in review, as well as consider the economic outlook as it applies to the U.S. HVAC industry.  The unitary market segment did very well in 2013, led by strength in new construction, replacement/add-on, and unitary system exports.  Overall, unitary shipments were up 9 percent and production was up 8 percent.

Historically, there are a variety of key economic indicators which affect the HVAC industry, including housing starts, real GDP (gross domestic product), residential fixed investment, prime interest rates and the unemployment rate.  With the exception of the prime rate and GDP, all of the indicators trended favorably in 2013 and many economists are expecting these trends to continue into 2014.  The economy is expected to see a moderate GDP increase which will help the HVACR industry to continue its recovery, with moderate growth in the…

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Five Observations From The 2014 AHR Expo

Tradesmen Insights

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

2014_AHR_EXPO-2I attended the 66thInternational Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Exposition in New York City (January 21-23, 2014). For those not familiar with this trade show, it is the largest HVACR show in the United States, endorsed by 33 leading HVACR industry associations and co-sponsored by ASHRAE  and AHRI. This year’s attendance was once again very strong, with more than 61,000 people attending and more than 1,800 exhibitor booths.

Here are five of my observations from the show:

  1. Strong 2014 Outlook – in addition to the positive sentiment of almost everyone I spoke with at the show, the recent ASHRAE/AHR Expo survey forecasts a pretty good year for the HVACR business. Of the 1,000 HVACR manufacturers worldwide surveyed, 79% of the respondents said their prospects for business were either “excellent” (19%) or “good” (60%) for the coming year, 90% of the HVACR…

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Home Heating: How Can You Lower Your Costs?


The Simplest Ways To Lower Your Home Heating Bill This WinterWhen the winter chill comes around, the heating bill at your property will naturally increase as you keep yourself warm and cozy. However, if your home is not being heated efficiently, you are essentially letting your hard earned dollars escape into the air as wasted energy.

What are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can cut down your heating expenses this winter and save yourself some money?

Only Heat The Rooms You Are Using

If you work from home and are spending eight hours of the day sitting in your home office, there is no need to keep the rest of the house toasty warm. If you have heaters that you can turn on and off for each room, you can direct the heat to the room that you are using.

If you have a spare bedroom, you don’t even have to heat it at all unless a guest…

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Seattle Adopts Plan for Saving Energy Resources in City-Owned Buildings

Seattle Skyline

Aims to Achieve 20% Energy Savings by 2020

The City of Seattle has adopted a Resource Conservation Management Plan (RCMP) that outlines how the City will reduce energy use in City-owned buildings 20% by 2020. A 20% energy use reduction by 2020 (compared to the 2008 baseline) would also result in utility cost savings of roughly $2.75 million per year after reaching the reduction goal.

The RCMP was adopted by City Council resolution 31491 on December 16. While resource conservation is not new to the City—efforts by Capital Departments have resulted in energy use reductions of approximately 1% per year since 2008—this is the first time Seattle has established a comprehensive coordinated strategy across its entire portfolio.

“As the owner of more than 650 buildings totaling approximately 10 million square feet, the City recognizes its own impact and its leadership role in addressing building energy use,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, “the RCMP demonstrates Seattle’s commitment to environmental and economic stewardship of our facilities.”

The plan’s recommendations cover the full range of effective resource conservation program activities, from capacity building to physical improvements. The plan outlines a three-part strategy that will ensure the City reduced energy use 20% by 2020: annual measurement and tracking; operations and maintenance improvements; and capital investments in energy efficiency. The City’s 2014 budget includes funding to begin implementation of the RCMP.

“Given that most of the buildings that will shape Seattle in 2050 have already been built, reducing the impact of existing buildings is a critical component in our strategy to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Jill Simmons, Director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment. “By implementing this plan, we hope to lead by example, showing other large property owners how they can achieve deep environmental and financial savings.”