February 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

How do you know what is a good training organization and a not so good one?

This question seems to be asked more and more as ‘green’ training has become a popular product sought out not only by installers and technicians who want to add subjects like solar and geothermal to their existing repertoire but also for those who are currently unemployed and looking to find a growing field where jobs may be plentiful.

I have noticed…and I suspect you have too…a large number of companies / organizations popping up claiming to offer ‘certified’ training in any number of ‘green’ technologies. I myself have been attracted to some of their ads and websites as I am always looking for new ‘training partners’ to sponsor my classes and also have a vested interest in the promotion and ultimate success of the class. I have scratched beneath the surface with a few of these companies and what I found was a bit disturbing to say the least.

Many of these companies are really not companies at all…they are nothing but ‘agents’ if you will, who do little or nothing but attempt to assemble all the elements involved for a class, (including an instructor), and then take a portion…or all…of the proceeds from tuition paid by attendees. They do not have offices or classrooms, they do not employ permanent instructors and often they do not have the accreditation and / or certification from legitimate industry organizations and associations with whom they claim to be ‘partnered’ with.

Many of the classes these agents offer cost BIG BUCKS for you to attend…a couple thousand dollars is quite typical. How do you know that the class you are registering for and paying thousands of dollars up front to attend is what it claims to be? How do you know the instructor really knows what he or she is talking about and holds some certifications themselves making them qualified to conduct such a class?

Well, like any other purchase of significant value, (and in this case, which also involves a significant investment of your time), you need to do a little research yourself. Ask questions, make a few phone calls and ask for references at the very least. Most of these ‘agents’ have flashy websites that display the logos of accrediting organizations such as International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA), Building Performance Institute (BPI), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and others. I have found in my own research that many of these organizations have demanded that the agent ‘cease and desist’ with the use of their logo and / or insist that the agent publish the name of their instructor who is accredited or certified by the organization whose logo is displayed.

Let me give you an example of which I have personal knowledge and a vested interest in; IGSHPA allows only those of us who have successfully completed their training to be an ‘Accredited Geothermal Installer and Trainer’ to conduct such classes and use the IGSHPA logo to promote those classes.

I was recently contacted by one of these ‘agents’ to conduct an ‘Accredited Geothermal Installer Certification’ class in just one week from their contacting me…one week! I could not find any where this class had been promoted yet they claimed they had eight registrants who had each paid $1,595.00 for tuition. I did find on their website that they claimed to conduct this class in a number of locations throughout the country yet they had no one listed on their staff with the IGSHPA accreditation and certification.

I have been at this a while and although I had heard of this agent before, (they are active in promoting their name in any number of business networking medias as well as traditional advertising), I had never had any personal experience with them so I wanted to find out what I could before I committed to conducting the class. Frankly, I had heard some talk that they were in a dispute with an accrediting organization regarding the use of their logo and that they took a very long time paying an instructor for his services so it made me suspicious going in.

I started with contacting the instructor for The HeatSpring Learning Institute who was my instructor when I first took the IGSHPA class, Ryan Carda. HeatSpring was listed on this agent’s website as a ‘partner’.

Now before I go on, let me just say that HeatSpring is an outstanding organization with, to my knowledge, and exemplary reputation. I would recommend anyone to attend a HeatSpring class and especially one conducted by Ryan…he is an excellent instructor, highly qualified and professional with tons of practical experience.

Okay, so Ryan told me he too had heard that this agent had a reputation for not paying their instructors in a timely manner and he cautioned me in getting involved with them.

Next I called the accrediting organization and they confirmed their complaint with the agent regarding the use of their logo.

Finally, I simply googled the agent’s name with the word “reviews” after it and I couldn’t believe what came up! Lists of people who had paid this agent to attend classes that were eventually canceled and refunds not issued…this is BAD!

So, back to my original question…how do you know who is a good guy and who isn’t?

Don’t make a tuition payment without knowing who the instructor will be and what their credentials are…if the agent can’t give you an instructor’s name than that should be a red flag.

Ask for references and also do your own search like I did…if negative content comes up then make a phone call or two to the complainants…sometimes disputes are resolved professionally to the complainants satisfaction and that may not be represented on the internet so definitely make a call.

Call the accrediting organization listed for the class, i.e., IGSHPA, BPI, LEED, etc., and ask them to verify that the class indeed has their blessing and will ultimately give the certification you are hoping to achieve should you successfully complete the class.

Let me throw one more personal concern I have to you…I think you should ask what ‘practical’ experience the instructor has with the subject. Salespeople are great for giving sales presentations but if you want to learn how to size, design, install and service a specific product / system do you really want to attend a class conducted by a salesperson or someone who has some practical experience with the product / system? I was in Sunrise, Florida a couple weeks back conducting mini-split classes and as I was setting up for the class a gentleman walked into the classroom and asked, “is this going to be a sales presentation or a real class”? I perfectly understood his question and felt it was very valid!

Look, I have an agenda here…I have worked hard to earn many accreditations and certifications and equally hard to not only keep my head, but my hands in all the technologies that I teach. I want you to judge me by the same criteria that I have just laid out for you…I am confident I will pass your test and if you don’t think I do…then you should look elsewhere until you are comfortable with your training provider.

Looking for a stock tip? Well, you won’t find one here!

I would never give financial advice of any sort but here is an interesting article about how well solar stocks did in 2011. The best news is that the US has regained its edge over China for the first time since 2008! You can read the Thermal Solar Magazine article here.

The next time your client’s home has a moat, here is a suggestion for geothermal!

Check out this great article from the European Ground Source Heat Pump Association (EGSHPA), about geothermal installations on, not Mc-mansions, but real castles! You can see the article here.

2012 International Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigerating Exposition (AHR EXPO) in Chicago

Last week I attended the AHR EXPO, (formerly known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE) show, in Chicago. I attended the last day, Wednesday, 1/25, but I am told that Tuesday was packed and  I only heard good reviews of the crowds for all three days.

Because I was there for just one day, (6 hours really), I had a short list of booths that I wanted to visit so I could efficiently go through the enormous show and make a point to see what was most important to me.

One of the booths on my short list was Arzel Zoning Technology, Inc. I met with Bill Molica who is their ‘Technical Support Specialist’ and we discussed the Arzel Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV), zoning products. I was thrilled to learn that these zoning systems can be adapted to many SDHV systems including the Comfort-Aire system that has won me over. Arzel offers packaged zoning systems for two and three zones…these are pneumatically operated dampers so you are running air tubing as opposed to wire…really nice! You can check out the Arzel ‘Zonocity’ product here.

Another one on my short list was Wrightsoft Corporation. They have a great software sizing program called ‘Right-HV Duct’ for SDHV system sizing. Right-HV Duct is a module that requires a load calculation module like ‘Right-J’ to run but this is a good thing as I preach the value of the ACCA manual J calculation and this customizes the manual J to the SDHV world. The Right-HV Duct is based upon a single SDHV manufacturer’s equipment but you can easily cross-reference to the Comfort-Aire product. You can see the Wrightsoft products here.

I had to check out the Airtec – Rectorseal booth because I got turned on to their mini-split condensate pumps when I was at Johnstone Supply in Florida a couple weeks back. I really like their Aqua Series mini pump kits, especially the new ASP-MA-UNI that can be placed in the evaporator’s drain tray or lineset cover, (which they also provide with their ‘Slimduct’ product). Check this out…the ASP-MA-UNI is multi-voltage so it will operate on 115 volts or 250 volts and everything in between! Voltage in inverter compressor mini-splits can vary so this little pump will adjust to available voltage and operate on the same operating voltage from the outdoor unit to the indoor…like on a Comfort-Aire V Series InverterFlex Multi-Zone system. You can check out these pumps here.

I had the pleasure of seeing my friend Dana Anaman at the North American Technician Excellence, (NATE), booth. NATE recognizes my classes and they are such great partners in training and constantly striving to bring the HVACR industry to new levels. Dana put a sticker on my name tag that read ‘NATE believer’…and I am! If you are not NATE certified then you should be…check out their website.

The last booth that I will mention is the Heat Controller, Inc booth where I was able to see all the Comfort-Aire and Century brand products for 2012. What a GREAT booth! So much to see and talk about with Comfort-Aire…InverterFlex Multi-Zone mini-splits, SDHV, geothermal, Through-The-Wall, (TTW) Packaged AC Terminal units (PTACs), window units, dehumidifiers and more! There was so much to see that I took pictures and they are now posted under a new category on my website in the ‘Media’ and then ‘Gallery’ tabs…look at the pictures titled ‘2012 AHR EXPO Heat Controller booth’.

New training dates…back to Florida this May 2012!

I have been invited back to Florida by the good people of Johnstone Supply and specifically Brian Nichols. I will again be conducting Comfort-Aire mini-split training at the following locations:

SUBJECT: Mini-Split Training
SPONSORS: Heat Controller / Comfort-Aire and Johnstone Supply
DATE: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
TIME: 3:30 – 5:30PM
LOCATION: Johnstone Supply
1143 Gateway Blvd.
Boynton, FL 33426
CONTACT INFO: 561-572-2507

SUBJECT: Mini-Split Training
SPONSORS: Heat Controller / Comfort-Aire and Johnstone Supply
DATE: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
TIME: 3:30 – 5:30PM
LOCATION: Johnstone Supply
2800 N. 30th Avenue
Hollywood, FL 33020-1507
CONTACT INFO: 954-921-8070

SUBJECT: Mini-Split Training
SPONSORS: Heat Controller / Comfort-Aire and Johnstone Supply
DATE: Thursday, May 10, 2012
TIME: 3:30 – 5:30PM
LOCATION: Johnstone Supply
790 International Pkwy.
Sunrise, FL 33325-6219
CONTACT INFO: 954-284-3903

My buddy, John Barba of Taco, Inc., receives the Carlson-Holohan award!

My dear friend received this most interesting and well deserved award at the AHR EXPO last week. I will let Dan Holohan describe the award in his words;

“Some have compared the Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence to the NHLs’ Stanley Cup though its more like a combination of the Hart Memorial Trophy awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy to the player exhibiting sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. It is industry recognition for what an individual has done for the game of steam and hydronics.”

I text-ed John when I heard of this honor and of course congratulated him but also reminded him that this was the ONLY trophy heading to New England this year!

See you all soon!