While consumers and building owners focus on temperature control, air quality is a growing concern for many. Companies seek to improve air quality because it impacts employee health. Better air quality = employee safety which, from an ROI perspective involves less sick days, higher productivity and a “happier” work force. And in the wake of Covid and a number of companies still seeking to return employees to offices, an investment in better air quality shows commitment to an improved environment.
On the consumer side, personal health is a driver, especially for those with asthma or allergies.
Traditionally contractors and distributors haven’t focused much resources on promoting air quality, other than during Covid. With the increased focus on air quality due to asthma and allergies, this could be a value proposition for companies to explore, and market.
Dr. Gráinne Cunniffe, who is associated with Allergy Standards and the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, shares insights into how an improved HVAC system improves air quality to benefit those with asthma and allergies.
“In the ever-evolving world of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), the focus has progressed beyond standard temperature control to encompass a broader concern—Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). For individuals with asthma, allergies or respiratory concerns, this emphasis is particularly important, as the air they breathe within the confines of their homes plays a pivotal role in their overall well-being. HVAC systems can also effectively minimize the spread of airborne illnesses, creating healthier environments in homes and shared indoor spaces such as schools and offices. In this article, we will explore the intersection of HVAC systems, IAQ, and respiratory health, shedding light on key considerations when selecting or recommending products, effective marketing strategies for IAQ-centric solutions and the importance of training in the HVACR field to leverage changing consumer demands.
Understanding the Health Impact of IAQ
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is often compromised by various common pollutants found in homes. Allergens from dust mites, pet dander and pollen can trigger allergies, while mold and mildew in damp areas lead to respiratory issues. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which off-gas from household products can cause irritation, and smoke from fires, tobacco or candles can pose risks and potential long-term health issues. Particulate matter from cooking and household activities can impact respiratory health, as can some household chemicals like cleaning products and laundry detergent. Recommendations to improve IAQ typically focus on a combination of pollution source control, strategies to enhance ventilation, and the use of air cleaning technology. HVAC systems equipped with advanced filtration and purification technologies can significantly contribute towards this goal.
Recent IAQ-focused advancements in HVAC systems include the integration of advanced filtration technologies such as HEPA filters, ultraviolet (UV-C) lights, and electrostatic precipitators, which can effectively capture and neutralize airborne particles, allergens, and pathogens. Smart HVAC systems equipped with sensors and AI algorithms continuously monitor and adjust air quality parameters, optimizing ventilation rates and filtration levels in real-time. Additionally, there is a growing trend towards energy-efficient HVAC solutions that not only enhance IAQ but also contribute to sustainability goals. The demand for these innovations are driven by consumers, builders, facility managers and all stakeholders looking to create healthier indoor environments by mitigating the impact of pollutants and allergens.
Retrofits, Renovations, and Repairs
HVAC Professionals should be well versed in the IAQ solutions which are suitable to install in new builds or in existing HVAC systems. Conducting renovations and repairs on sub-standard housing has been associated with significant improvement in health outcomes for occupants. Consider the selection of high-efficiency air filters or upgrading to HEPA filters to effectively trap a broader spectrum of airborne particles. Integrating UV-C germicidal lamps within the system can neutralize bacteria and viruses, significantly reducing their presence in the circulated air. Also, consider the addition of advanced air purifiers with active carbon filtration to target volatile organic compounds and odors. Ensuring proper sizing and installation of these technologies within the existing HVAC framework is vital for maximum effectiveness in improving IAQ without compromising the system’s overall performance.
For professionals, effective maintenance of HVAC systems and the IAQ-enhancing components, including filter replacements and cleaning, is vital to ensure optimal performance and sustained Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) standards. End users should be educated on the importance of regular maintenance so they prioritize routine filter changes and professional servicing, fostering healthier indoor environments and extending the lifespan of their HVAC systems.
Marketing IAQ-Centric Products
In the competitive HVAC market, effectively marketing IAQ-enhancing products is key to reaching the right audience and “air aware” consumers. Highlighting the potential long-term health benefits and emphasizing the specific features that contribute to improved IAQ can set a product apart. Products which have undergone rigorous scientific testing, for example products certified by the asthma and allergy friendly® Certification Program, have been independently validated as options suitable for individuals with asthma or allergies. Utilizing social media platforms and partnering with IAQ experts can also amplify the message and reach a wider audience.
Training for HVACR Professionals
With the growing emphasis on IAQ, HVACR professionals must stay abreast of the latest technologies, products and installation practices to meet the evolving needs of consumers. Training programs, ideally approved courses with continuing professional development (CPD) credits, should focus on the health impact of improving IAQ, outline the various air monitoring and filtration systems, and explain the appropriate integration of air purification devices for residential or commercial settings. A well-informed workforce is not only an asset to companies but also ensures that end-users receive optimal solutions for their IAQ concerns. HVAC professionals must also factor in local environmental challenges like wildfires, pollen, and industrial emissions to design systems that effectively address regional air quality concerns and safeguard indoor environments.
The ever-growing consumer demand for superior products and systems that enhance indoor environments has ignited a competitive landscape, prompting HVACR professionals to understand and offer a range of targeted solutions to meet these needs. In response to heightened consumer expectations regarding health and wellness, coupled with the recent impact of COVID-19, the emphasis on IAQ has significantly risen in prevalence and importance. Particularly for individuals experiencing asthma and allergies or respiratory concerns, the right HVAC system can make a world of difference in their daily lives. As HVACR professionals, understanding and embracing IAQ-focused products, employing impactful marketing tactics, and tailoring the best solutions to the end users’ needs can result in gaining a competitive commercial advantage and truly breathing new life into the homes and health of your customers.
As a distributor finalizing your marketing plan which will integrate manufacturer initiatives, your typical marketing approach is to focus on promoting your company (why you) as well as manufacturer-specific promotions.
While both are viable initiatives (albeit personally the manufacturer initiatives should be supportive of your core marketing plan), promoting air quality as a platform … grouping complementary manufacturers … into an application marketing initiative, could have benefits … and your manufacturers will be supportive.
Further, a contractor deliverable from this initiative could be identifying contractors interest in promoting air quality to their customer bases (perhaps contractors who do more in the healthcare space; or hospitality; or office buildings; perhaps multi-family environments or upscale homes. Whatever the segments, you could offer specialized training (installation and selling) as well as branded multi-supplier collateral promoting the hard and soft benefits of improved air quality.
Partnering with your customers with targeted marketing initiatives can help you differentiate yourself while increasing sales in a market that is expecting nominal growth.