At the 1999 Winter ASHRAE conference in Chicago, I sat in on a forum that addressed the need for better training in the hvacr industry. Lots of good comments were made about how designers, engineers, technicians, maintenance personnel, and service technicians could be better educated relative to the design-construction-operation-maintenance business.

There was a strong sentiment that developing new training manuals to educate these professionals will solve the problem.

Having spent a business lifetime investing in new employees, I don't think we need any more books or training programs right now. I think we need to be training leaders to champion the hvacr process.

Mentors Could Drive Growth

Let's draw an analogy to building a faster car: What good is a new automobile if you can't drive? I don't think enough people in our industry have earned the right to "drive" the hvacr process.

I have heard people in this business tell me they know engineering, they know construction, and/or they know facility management. There is too much to be learned to be able to sit back and make statements like that. Sure, some people are graduate engineers and others are graduates of some really great technical schools, but education is a journey, not a destination. Along the way, trainees and professionals alike need mentors.

Looking back over my career, I have had some great mentors who championed the education process and created the environment to learn. I learned hvacr as an entry-level draftsperson, design engineer, engineer, project manager, estimator, and businessman (to mention a few milestones on the journey). If we are going to establish improved training tools, let's start with a mentoring guideline to champion the education process. Maybe we could even develop a universal mentoring standard, where the graduate would be a Certified Mentor (CM).

Mentoring guidelines would be the same for ASHRAE as they would be for AFE (Association for Facilities Engineering). In fact, these two groups could cosponsor a national test entailing a written exam, followed by a practical, on-the-job test. Just imagine how many more potential employees would be drawn to a firm if its staff included Certified Mentors. To remain certified, CMs would need to monitor and measure their mentoring performance, and submit this data to a CM Board of Directors annually.

Keeping Tabs On Office Specs

Not to change the subject, but last month I asked the question, "What could possibly be missing in our standard TAB (testing, adjusting, and balancing) specification?" The question was raised based on what a TAB technician is required to do to properly test, adjust, and balance an air or water system, versus what many consulting engineering specifications are missing in their standard TAB office specification.

The answer comes from the National Environmental Balancing Bureau's Procedural Standards for Testing Adjusting Balancing of Environmental Systems (5th edition), "Preliminary TAB Procedure":

"B. It is recommended that a schematic layout of each HVAC duct system be prepared ....A similar drawing should be made also for extensive piping systems. In large buildings or where there is more than one system, make a separate layout for each floor or each system. All dampers, regulating devices, terminal units, supply outlets, return and exhaust inlets should be indicated. Also, show the sizes, velocities, and flow for main and branch circuits or ducts."

Standard TAB specifications should request that the backup information cited in the above paragraph be submitted with the TAB report. In many ways, this backup information is far more important over the life of the hvac system than the traditionally requested TAB info (i.e., cfm and gpm readings).

The backup flow diagrams, velocities, and cfm/gpm flows in the mains and branches provide the design engineer (and eventually, the facility manager) with all the pertinent data relative to each system. Receiving only TAB information on total flow and flow at each outlet leaves a huge void relative to what is happening between the fan-pump and the outlets.ES