Kelly Faloon/Contracting Business magazine
From left, White, Gee, Yurek, Guarino and Mehboob.

AHR 2023: HVACR State of the Industry

Feb. 9, 2023
Industry leaders in Atlanta cited supply chain woes, refrigerant regulatory changes, decarbonization and workforce shortages as key issues to watch this year.

Supply-chain issues will continue this year, but should get better, noted Taylor Gee of HARDI. And multifamily construction will grow, he added, as should commercial building construction.

Gee was part of a Feb. 7 panel at the 2023 AHR Expo in Atlanta discussing various topics affecting the HVACR industry. Pictured above are Chuck White (PHCC), Gee, Stephen Yurek (AHRI), Dominick Guarino (NCI), and Farooq Mehboob (ASHRAE). Panel moderator Bryan Orr (HVAC School) is not pictured.

On the topic of refrigerants, panelists encouraged HVACR contractors to be proactive with suppliers and to step up efforts for refrigerant reclamation. However, the biggest concern was that many contractors were not aware of the low-GWP refrigerant movement and that the refrigerants they currently use will soon be unavailable.

“Maybe 10% of the industry is paying attention,” Guarino said. “Others are more focused on business. We have to step up communication through nontraditional methods, such as social media and working with contractor associations at the local level, rather than national.”

Yurek noted that new SEER 2 product regulations effective as of Jan. 1, offer an excellent opportunity to show potential technicians that the HVACR industry is mechanical and high-tech. White said that the “skills of technicians are critical” to ensure the proper installation of this super-efficient equipment.

And Mehboob discussed the decarbonization movement and the design of more energy-efficient buildings. “Moving manufacturing back to the United States is one way to reduce carbon consumption in the construction of buildings,” he said.

Regarding the aging workforce, a decades-old problem that has worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic, Mehboob noted that women comprise only 3% of the HVACR workforce; "it is a big challenge to get them interested in these jobs."

Also, younger generations are looking for idealism in their work; is the HVAC industry speaking to that? "The HVACR industry is part of the energy-efficiency revolution," he said.

Yurek noted that the industry also should look at those who are searching for a second career.