Mark Lowry
Executive Vice President
Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

RSES, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, helps the economy in two primary ways – one direct, and one indirect.  Directly, as an educational organization with a mission to ‘provide comprehensive, cutting-edge education to the HVACR industry’ we provide individuals with the knowledge base to succeed in careers pertaining to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.  Specifically, we are focused on the training and education of people performing installation, service and maintenance of such mechanical systems.

As featured on the front page of the Sunday March 29 career section of the Chicago Tribune, “despite today’s struggling economy and a dramatic slowdown in building construction, the service and installation of HVACR systems remains a very stable career path.”  This industry is facing a critical shortage of workers over the next 10 years.  Between retirement of 40% of the existing workforce and the increased demand for the services of such workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the industry will “need to recruit and train about 2/3 of its current workforce through 2020.”  The same source estimates 20,000 installers and service technicians annually are needed to fill this shortage.

RSES helps train those workers.  RSES does not currently lobby, although we do attend meetings of various agencies at both the federal and various state levels, sometimes as invited experts and sometimes as interested stakeholders.  These can range from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Departments of Labor, Energy and Education.  In California we’ve been engaged in both the California Air Resource Board’s and the Energy Commission’s deliberations concerning regulation of the HVACR industry.  Educating legislators and regulators, building and equipment owners, as well as the actual workforce doing the relevant work, is why we engage in this variety of activities.

The common thread in all RSES activities is education.  In a nutshell, HVACR systems use energy to remove heat from where we don’t want it and put it places we don’t care.  According to ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Engineers, buildings consume 40% of all energy, and 70% of all electrical energy, in America.  The EPA estimates 75% of all HVAC equipment installed is operating at least 20% reduced efficiency, largely due to improper installation and maintenance of that equipment.

This is where the indirect contribution RSES makes to the economy comes.  By improving the knowledge level and competence of the people doing the work, HVACR systems can more assuredly perform at the efficiency levels they were designed.  The most efficiently designed mechanical equipment can be manufactured to exacting specifications – yet improperly selected, installed and maintained, it will never achieve its designed efficiency level.

Reducing energy usage, and therefore energy costs, benefits homeowners and commercial equipment owners alike.  Spending less on energy allows additional personal savings, investment in other activities, etc.  The greenest jobs of all are those that improve energy performance – no matter what the source of that energy is.  The HVACR industry, and the associations that serve it, stand prepared to continue providing comfort and safety to all citizens of the American economy.