Every successful project starts with a framework. A vision statement. A blueprint. The editors of Engineered Systems are proud to present The Blueprint — a monthly Q&A interview with HVACR engineering’s leading voices. These one-on-one discussions will examine the trade’s history, current industry trends, the factors shaping the sector’s future, and more.

Greenheck’s focus is to build value in air. The manufacturer has been committed to this mantra since its humble beginnings in 1947 as a tiny sheet metal shop in Schofield, Wisconsin. Today, the company’s flagship ventilation products can be found behind walls, in ductwork, or on the roofs of commercial buildings around the world.

In this interview, Herb Woerpel, editor-in-chief of Engineered Systems, sat down with Tim Kilgore, president of sales and marketing, Greenheck, to discuss COVID-19’s impact on IAQ, how Greenheck’s products can solve some of these concerns, what exciting innovations are coming down the pipeline, and more.

Engineered Systems: Welcome, Tim. Can you take a moment to introduce yourself and Greenheck?

Tim Kilgore: I’m Tim Kilgore, Greenheck’s president of sales and marketing. Greenheck is a manufacturer of air movement, control, and conditioning equipment for commercial construction. Most of Greenheck’s products are configure-to-order to meet engineers’ specifications. Each product addresses specific functions within an HVAC system, ranging from improving IAQ and comfort ventilation to keeping occupants and buildings safe from pollution, harmful fumes, smoke, fire, and storm water. Greenheck has manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. and in Mexico and India.

Engineered Systems: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life. How did the Greenheck team respond to the pandemic? 

Kilgore: Our first and foremost concern was the safety and health of our employee teammates.  We quickly formed a COVID response team to determine and lead our internal action plans. We focused on communications to keep everyone aware of our plans, action steps, and response throughout the company. It was a team effort, and we were very successful in keeping our employees safe and our operations running to produce much-needed and critical HVAC products.

Throughout the pandemic, we worked closely with engineers, contractors, and facility managers to manufacture and expedite delivery of our equipment to assist in renovating essential facilities to meet COVID-19 concerns. We’re proud to have provided critical contributions to many medical and health care facilities as they converted nontraditional spaces, such as parking garages into COVID-19 units.

The pandemic also forced us to switch gears internally as to how we offered training and education to our customers. Typically, our education center at our Schofield, Wisconsin, campus has about 2,000 guests visiting the building annually. With travel eliminated during the height of the pandemic, our team collaborated and came up with virtual, interactive solutions that were beyond just another Zoom meeting. These new online trainings and HVAC University classes have been very well received in the engineering community with customer attendees doubling what the Education Center sees in person. Many of these attendees have never visited the campus, giving us an opportunity to reach new audiences that we may never had the chance to interact with before. We plan to continue these online offerings in the future.

Engineered Systems: The pandemic also brought an unprecedented level of awareness to indoor air quality. Can you tell us more about how Greenheck’s equipment is geared to minimize the spread of the virus?

Kilgore: As a ventilation manufacturer coming up on our 75th anniversary, our focus has always been on improving IAQ in commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings. Greenheck maintains our commitment to IAQ through engineering, certified third-party testing, and manufacturing a comprehensive line of ventilation products. Today, these products have an increased focus on decreasing the risk of disease transmission through the proper design, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems. While there is no single way to eliminate viral transfer, we do know that enhanced ventilation, humidity control, proper filtration, and air distribution can help mitigate virus spread.

Engineered Systems: Air distribution and ventilation are important elements of the IAQ equation. Can you further explain the role of each and quantify their importance?

Kilgore: Introducing fresh, outside air into a building helps disperse and dilute indoor air contaminants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO2, pollutants, and viruses. Effectively exhausting air out of a building rids interior spaces of stale, oxygen-depleted air and airborne pathogens. Air distribution refers to how air moves within a space as a function of air rotations and air velocity. Proper air distribution reduces high concentrations of pathogens from forming in a space. Air distribution also aids in destratification (mixing hot air that rises with cooler air beneath) to help improve occupant comfort and reduce energy costs. Greenheck is a single source manufacturer of all of the ventilation equipment needed to bring fresh air into a space and effectively circulate the air while maintaining comfort and energy efficiency.

Engineered Systems: Greenheck is constantly introducing new products and technologies to the market. Care to mention one or two that consulting/specifying engineers should be aware of? 

Kilgore: Greenheck is completing the acquisition of Metal Industries, a manufacturer of grilles, registers, diffusers, and air terminal products. We look forward to incorporating this product line into our growing catalog of products. We’ve also recently expanded and rebranded our HVLS fan line as AMPLIFY™ and have some new overhead fan product developments that are coming soon. Other new products introduced this past year include our Vari-Green® Hand/Off/Auto (HOA) control that optimizes ventilation system efficiency; our Open Plenum Array that can be customized based on sound, horsepower, and number of fans for a variety of performance needs; and our RV-10 rooftop ventilation unit for both partial recirculation and 100% outside air systems that require a smaller footprint and lower cfm range. That’s more than two, but like you said, we are constantly developing new products.

Engineered Systems: Over the next 10-20 years, what one air movement/ventilation technology that isn’t being widely used today will become much more prevalent/important?

Kilgore: New technologies are continuously being developed, so I don’t think I could single out one that we are not using today to our advantage that will be more important in the next 10 years. Anything that can improve energy savings and operational efficiencies are always going to be important.

Engineered Systems: Any final advice you’d like to offer the consulting/specifying engineers who are reading this?

Kilgore: Our founder, Bob Greenheck, has a saying: Innovate or Perish. Keep pushing to generate new and improved, energy efficient products for better buildings now and in the future.

Engineered Systems: If readers are interested in connecting with Greenheck, where should they turn?

Kilgore: Visit www.greenheck.com to view our complete product line and to find your local Greenheck representative.