HRAI Annual Conference Addresses Climate Concerns and Industry Opportunity
By HPAC MagazineGreen Technology HPAC General Human Resources Management AGM HRAI sustainability
Bill Davis, vice president/general manager with Ecco Supply, takes over the role of Chair of the HRAI Board of Directors for 2022-23.
The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) held its Annual Conference in Ottawa from September 18-20, the group’s first in-person national conference since 2019.
The role of Chair of the HRAI Board of Directors transitioned to Bill Davis, vice president/general manager with Ecco Supply, taking over the role from Scott McDonald of Johnson Controls who served as Chair for 2021-22.
The HRAI conference adopted a lighter educational load and encouraged greater networking than past events.
The kick-off reception on the first evening featured Chris Turner, award-winning journalist, author and regular speaker on the topics of climate change solutions and the global energy transition, a common theme at the conference.
Turner’s latest book is How to Be a Climate Optimist, and he shared why he’s optimistic about the future, based on the rapid rate of growth in sustainable energy solutions he’s witnessed over 20 years of covering climate change issues.
The global adoption of solar and wind power has exceeded many expectations, the transition to electric vehicles is accelerating fast and re-imagined cities using distributed power solutions and less energy intensive systems— including district energy and heat pump solutions—are some of the reasons he’s optimistic.
Over the course of the next two days conference attendees heard repeated notes of optimism for the industry while also being faced with the real obstacles to achieving climate goal objectives.
The keynote presentation by Bruce Laurie, environmental leader and influential environmental policy expert, zeroed in on how the HVAC industry is primed to be in the “opportunity business”.
While he acknowledged that Canada’s 2030 emissions targets will be very hard to meet, HRAI members are the ones providing the solutions to help their customers navigate the complexity of making strategic long-term solutions that will benefit both the consumers and the planet.
Laurie shared some details on a new project in which HRAI will be playing a role in collaboration with the Transition Accelerator in a new group called the Canadian Building Electrification Alliance (more details to come).
While Laurie and most every other speaker during the conference accepted the reality that Canada faces a labour shortage when it comes to the skilled workforce required to retrofit and build the green buildings of the “near” future, he is of the belief that there is a realization within the next generation that there is a long-term future in working in fields that are climate positive – and the HVAC industry must be promoting itself as one of those industries.
“People are the solution,” said Laurie, and while the role of the technology is critical it’s the delivery of useful information and interacting with customers to support sustainability and resiliency, along with security, comfort and reliability in their homes, that will position the HVAC industry for success.
During the conference the HRAI also recognized members with some special awards. Bruce Passmore of EMCO received the HRAI Award of Merit for outstanding service; the HRAI Life Member Award went to Peter Steffes; and Jim Bolger of Waterloo Energy Products and Mechanical was presented with the Warren Heeley Environmental Award.
President’s Awards were also handed out to Francis Belle, a semi-retired HRAI instructor for residential mechanical design from Regina, and the City of Vancouver was recognized for its environmental leadership (the award was accepted by Chris Higgins, senior green building planner at City of Vancouver).
HRAI will be hosting its next annual conference September 17 – 19 in Montreal.