The other day, a colleague of mine mentioned to me that she was taking on a project where others in her company were not happy. She was going to challenge the HVAC design of another consulting firm (also a competitor of their company) that may have made mistakes on this particular project. The concern of her partners was that this could reflect badly on their firm and thus influence the future of the company based on her decision to do the right thing for a building owner in need of a solution.
I told her that this was not an uncommon problem and was not limited to just the HVAC community. There are boards overseeing professional ethics that have made their own mistakes and who can be investigated by a third party for someone unjustly accused, and it doesn’t stop there. There can be professional society boards that can be called into question based on their own actions. I have experienced firsthand competing consulting engineering firms being hired by a building owner to provide a third-party peer review of an HVAC design, which can be a good investment for the owner, but often these reviews can result in a second agenda by the reviewing firm to not only provide good technical advice but to also make the original design firm look not so good in the eyes of the client. It is always a fine line between doing the right thing and maybe making the competition look bad in the process (a topic for another day).