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Editor's Note: Forcing Spring, Embracing Hope

April 17, 2021
After a year of extraordinary loss, we are still here. A new federal stimulus package is now law, 100 million Americans have been vaccinated, and both our nation and industry finally seem to be rebounding.

As I write this spring essay, I find myself reflecting on the epic emotional ebb and flow of this calamitous year of pandemic and the searing economic and political strife that continues to test America like no other crisis since the Civil War.

Incredibly, I do not think I am exaggerating.

At press time, more than 540,000 Americans had died of COVID-19 in the past 13 months, a truly staggering figure. March 28 marks the first anniversary of the Coronavirus death of my dear friend Geoff, a retired Ingersoll Rand alum who unfailingly brought joy to all who knew him. He would be pleased to know that I will celebrate his memory this year with my first shot of the COVID vaccine.

Similarly, our sensibilities here were shaken anew just in February with the passing of our friend and former colleague, Bob Mader. A true industry icon and classic journalist curmudgeon, he left us all suddenly at just 65. If not for Bob, I would not have this job, so I will always be in his debt. For more from those who knew Bob much longer and better than me, I urge you to visit our sister website,, to see a collection of warm and insightful tributes from his many friends in this industry.

Of course, after a year like we have all just been through, I could continue to touch on many more pain points. But enough of that. Spring is a season of hope. And if you are reading this, you are still standing. As a Bruce Springsteen fan, I am reminded of his song Wrecking Ball, where he wrote defiantly after the last Great Recession, “C'mon, Take your best shot; Let me see what you got. Bring on your wrecking ball.”

Well, folks, it is Spring 2021, a $1.9-trillion federal stimulus package is now law, 100 million Americans (and counting) have been vaccinated, and our nation and industry finally seem poised to force an economic recovery to happen sooner than later. (If we can just survive spring break!)

Toward that end, you can now read about engineering prospects in individual sectors in our new online exclusive Market Focus reports, posted at in our new Members Only section. But that is just part of what’s new from HPAC Engineering this year. In February, as noted in this space in our last issue, we launched two new monthly features, our first podcast series, HPAC ‘On the Air’, and our new industry quiz, which awards actual prizes!

In the multimedia realm, I really do recommend that you listen to our latest podcast, A Year of Living Digitally,” an engaging interview with mechanical engineer and ASHRAE President Chuck Gulledge. I am biased, of course, but the discussion is well worth your time as it looks at ASHRAE’s extraordinary digital conversion over the past year, even while the professional group was being forced onto center state in our industry’s urgent response to the pandemic.

With that in mind, also check out the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force’s recent self-assessment, candidly delivered in February by its own chair, Dr. Bill Bahnfleth, P.E., a member of HPAC Engineering’s editorial advisory board. 

Of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg available in this print issue, and now online, as well. Please visit our website and see all that you may be missing. Overall, as business confidence now seems to be growing in both the construction industry and the U.S. economy, it is hard not to feel hope this spring.

Granted, another uncertain summer still awaits us. But there definitely seems to be more energy in our step now as we steadily emerge from the darkness.


Click here to download our new eBook, Editor's Notebook: Looking Back on 2020.


Comments? Questions? Please e-mail me at [email protected].