HRAI 2018 President's Review

Welcome to 2019 - Happy New Year!

The past year was an active one for HRAI and for me personally, it was an exciting year as I joined the Association as President and CEO, replacing Warren Heeley who successfully led the organization until his retirement at the end of June.

Let me give you a brief overview of the events of the past year at HRAI:

Through our surveys, members have clearly indicated that government relations and advocacy is a priority mandate for HRAI. Through a re-organization last year we combined our Environmental Services group together with our Stakeholder Relations team and we now have a team of eight people working on key environmental issues, industry rules and regulations and government affairs.  It's a step in the right direction.

Among the many accomplishments noted within HRAI's Annual Report, below are some key areas I would like to bring your attention to.

In government relations: This team has been very active in Ottawa over the past year with multiple visits to the nation’s capital to meet with senior government officials. In March and again in November we held a “Day on the Hill” where both staff and board members spent the day on Parliament Hill meeting with Members of Parliament and their staff in key areas such as energy, the environment and workforce needs.

After these meetings and a formal budget submission we are most pleased to report that the federal government seems to be taking our lead and will be considering how  to leverage the expertise of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration sector in Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy by exploring funding for:

  1. Developing a pool of capital that can be leveraged to encourage private sector financing for commercial building retrofits;
  2. Implementing a federal tax credit for investments in technologies that reduce carbon emissions and improve energy performance in buildings;
  3. Supporting industry-led and managed incentive programs for specific low-carbon technologies; and
  4. Implementation of the market transformation road map, which was developed by Natural Resources Canada in consultation with the provinces/territories as well as key industry stakeholders, to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Flammable refrigerants:  Continuing with an environmental theme in 2018, HRAI’s Emerging Technologies Committee addressed the pending introduction of flammable refrigerants in Canada. Besides having obvious implications for installer safety, the new refrigerants may require changes in training, regulations, codes and standards, life cycle management and public awareness. A new Task Team of industry experts has been formed to study the issue. More communications will follow in the coming months.

Surplus refrigerant disposal: Refrigerant Management Canada, an HRAI subsidiary, continues to serve the interests of the industry very well. The operation is well managed and ended the year in a surplus positon.  RMC collected 182,212 kilograms from January to November, and destroyed 201,584 kilograms. By enabling the HVACR industry to manage the collection and destruction of surplus refrigerants responsibly, this program is a perfect example of the benefits of industry self-regulation.

Training at HRAI: Education remains a key element of the services HRAI offers to the industry and 2018 was a banner year. The 2018/19 course schedule launched in September and 22 courses with 160 participants were completed from September to December. On the business development front we are in the early stages of working with RSES to develop Hydrocarbon Refrigerants Training in Canada. We are also pleased to report that the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is now using our Residential Heat Loss/Heat Gain Calculations curriculum within their HVAC Program and we are continuing to develop relationships with community colleges across Canada.

HRAI launched an online administrative portal for "Canada's Ozone Layer Protection Awareness" Program which we manage for the Ministry of the Environment.  This has greatly improved efficiency and allows ODP Renewals to be processed online instantly as well as allowing Delivery Partners to order materials online and enter their own exam results.

Membership satisfaction and growth: This remains a high priority for HRAI as we move into 2019. We have begun a research initiative to track member satisfaction and I’m pleased to report a slight tick upwards in satisfaction over the past year. Here are just a few comments we have received back from members:

What we are doing well:

  • HRAI is heading in the right direction working the wholesale, contractor and manufacturing segments of our industry.
  • My firm has benefited greatly from attending conferences.  Because of a referral at one conference, we have gained literally millions of dollars in business.  Thanks
  • Thank-you for all that you are involved in and the work that everyone at HRAI does. It is greatly appreciated.
  • Keep up the good work.  I do feel like HRAI is a more legitimate / unbiased organization with our best interests in mind. 
  • Great work on government relations, advocacy and industry presence.  Also education that's available to members.

Areas of improvement:

  • More transparency about activities with government.  Members should also disclose if they can assist with MPs or MPP meetings.
  • Increasing contractor involvement should be key to creating a successful organization. Efforts are greatly needed in this sector
  • I had no opinion on how effective that HRAI communicates with the federal, provincial or trade groups because we rarely hear what you are doing or saying to them.
  • A quarterly meeting with representatives from HRAI at various chapters or a central location for each province. This is to ensure they are getting all the feedback directly from the contractors, to ensure nothing is missing and all issues big or small for different regions are addressed and the entire body is made aware of.
  • More training on opposite sides of Toronto.  Some Mississauga and some on the Pickering side.  Often training happens at the direct energy building and coming from Kitchener area for two or three days is not very fun.
  • I was kind of disappointed that courses were no longer given in Moncton It seems to me that it was easier for us to send our guys for training then
  • Very little attention to Alberta or the west.
  • Virtually nothing comes out of HRAI that relates to the refrigeration industry.

On the communications front the distribution list for our newsletter is growing. On September 19, 2018, there were 2,650 subscribers and by the end of the year we were well over 5,000, with a target to reach 10,000 industry stakeholders by July 1, 2019. In addition we’ve had a 37% increase in qualified HVACR focused LinkedIn connections in the past year and Live Chat was launched as new online tool in January 2018 to assist people with their inquiries in real-time.

Looking ahead, HRAI will become even more visible to members. HRAI’s leadership will be more active and visible across the country. We have a renewed focus on adding new members and building membership satisfaction; engagement will be a primary focus. HRAI’s advocacy efforts will be brought into closer alignment with member priorities, communications will be improved, and education and training resources will be expanded with improvements to existing programs, new online features, and the introduction of new curriculum.

My final comment is a request to you. We would like to include more members in the Management of HRAI. If you would like to participate on an industry task team or have your voice heard at a half-day industry round table, send a note to Loretta Zita at lzita@hrai.ca. I am always pleased to hear from members on any topic, feel free to reach out to me personally at smacleod@hrai.ca.

2019 is going to be a great year for HRAI and the industry.  Happy New Year!

Sandy Macleod
President & CEO
HRAI


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