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Consumers Energy and SEMCO Energy has partnered with Environmental Protection Agency-recognized third-party training organizations are excited to announce another round of the ENERGY STAR® Scholarship Pilot Program to grow our highly skilled trades network. Consumers Energy will provide 2022 ENERGY STAR scholarships, valued at $1,050 each, to 15 HVAC contractors who sign up.
The training will begin in September of 2022 with flexible schedule options available.
Benefits of becoming an ENERGY STAR certified HVAC Contractor:
· Gain a competitive advantage in the market
· Provide a higher quality install
· Align with a growing demographic of consumers
· Provide services for ENERGY STAR new home builders
· Market your affiliation with EPA's well-recognized ENERGY STAR program
· Bring additional revenue into your company
Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested in participating, please complete the interest form here.
Consumers Energy Trade Ally Website
Alexandria, VA (August 31, 2022) - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announces its success in achieving the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) exemption of all outdoor HVAC equipment from the 2020 and 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection. The exemption is in place until September 2026.
This achievement stems from a two-year-long campaign of proposals and appeals submitted to the NFPA Standards Council by ACCA, Leading Builders of America (LBA), and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
"It has been a long battle trying to convince the NFPA to exempt all outdoor HVAC from the NEC's GFCI protection," said David Bixby, ACCA manager of codes and standards. "It was critical to expand the exemption for all equipment until September 1, 2026. This will give the industry time to research the reasons behind the nuisance trips and develop technical solutions for the applicable appliance standard. This code change would have crippled our industry. Thanks to a concerted effort between ACCA members, its committees and Allied Contracting Organizations (ACOs), and our trade association allies, we were able to help educate the NFPA on a better course of action."
On August 10, 2022, Ed Lehr, president, Jack Lehr Heating, Cooling, & Electric in Allentown, PA testified on behalf of ACCA at an NFPA Standards Council hearing. He was joined by representatives from LBA and AHRI. Lehr's testimony proved to the Council that the current code requirement would cause excessive nuisance trips for the HVACR industry, wasting thousands of hours for technicians and putting customers in harm's way if they tried to reset or bypass the GFCI device to keep equipment operative.
"Thanks to the group effort, ACCA succeeded in leading the charge to rewrite this bad code," said Barton James, ACCA president and CEO. "This code was already negatively impacting contractors, their customers, and the entire HVACR Industry in states that had adopted it. Its impact would have only been compounded with future adoptions. ACCA is thrilled to announce the success of this campaign."
ACCA recognizes the following for their part in this achievement: Ed Lehr; Devorah Jakubowsky, executive director, Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA), an ACCA Allied Contracting Organization (ACO); ACCA's Products Committee and its Codes Subcommittee; and ACCA's Allied Industry Organizations.
To learn more about the GFCI exemption, click here.
For more information about this issue or other codes matters, please contact David Bixby, ACCA manager of codes and standards at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 525-5503.
For more information about ACCA, please contact Natalie D'Apolito, ACCA communications coordinator, at email@example.com or (703) 824-8873.
Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act — What Does This Mean for HVACR?
On 8-17-2022 President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),
The bill extends several tax credits aimed at bringing down the cost of residential energy-efficiency improvements such as heat pumps, rooftop solar systems, and electric HVAC systems and water heaters. along with other forms of cleaner technology. It also includes incentives for companies to manufacture that technology in the United States.
ACHR News reports:
Reaction is mixed in the HVAC industry to the passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a sweeping proposal aimed at addressing health-care costs and climate change as well as tackling the nation's deficit.
The bill, which will raise an estimated $737 billion through a 15% minimum tax on large corporations, increased tax-code enforcement, and other revenue measures, passed both houses of Congress by party-line votes in August and was expected to be signed by President Joe Biden on August 16.
Among its provisions are incentives for the use of higher-efficiency HVAC technology in homes and commercial and public buildings. But while those incentives are embraced by the HVAC industry, other facets of the IRA, for some, outweigh its benefits.
"Unfortunately, it looks like Congress chose politics over good policy in crafting this bill," said Alex Ayers, the government affairs director at HARDI, in an emailed statement.
"We are very disappointed with this outcome and will work tirelessly to impact the rule-making process to improve the impacts on America's HVACR contractors," said Barton James, the president and CEO of ACCA, which was among dozens of trade and interest groups lobbying against the act.
Both HARDI and ACCA objected to the legislation's funding of an expansion of the Internal Revenue Service, which they said will lead to more audits of small businesses.
"From ACCA member experience, we know many, if not most, of these additional audits will be conducted on the owners of family businesses who have fully complied with the tax code," James wrote in an August 8 letter to top Congressional leaders.
Association representatives are also wary of an extension of loss limitations that will keep pass-through businesses from fully writing off business losses. James contended that provision is intended to offset the potential revenue lost by exempting private-equity investors from the minimum corporate tax.
"The cap on active pass-through loss deductions is bad policy at any time, but it is particularly harmful when the economy is weak, and businesses are trying to keep up with inflation," he wrote in his letter.
Ayers also objected to the prevailing-wage and apprenticeship requirements attached to some of the tax incentives, saying they "will likely prevent full utilization of these tax credits with the current workforce issues facing the industry."
The incentives, Ayers said, had bipartisan support and would likely have been passed without prevailing-wage and apprenticeship rules.
HVAC manufacturers praised the IRA's energy-efficiency incentives.
"Trane Technologies is looking forward to helping our customers access incentives and rebates for energy-efficient HVAC solutions, including heat pumps, thermal management and storage, smart thermostats, and other sustainable innovations," said Paul Camuti, the chief sustainability and technology officer at Trane Technologies Inc., in an email.
At METUS, or Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC U.S., a joint venture, Jason Rosenthal, the vice president of marketing, said the incentives will boost the heat-pump market.
"The IRA pushes heat pumps further into the mainstream and closer to becoming the standard for heating and cooling our homes," he said.
According to a Senate summary of the IRA, of the $737 billion expected to be raised, $369 billion will be invested in energy security and fighting climate change, $300 billion in deficit reduction, $64 billion in Affordable Care Act improvements, and $4 billion in drought resiliency programs in the western U.S.
Click for this ACHR article
Andrew Brisbo has been named the Bureau of Construction Codes' (BCC) Director. You may know Andrew as the Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), where since March of 2017, Andrew has overseen the operations of CRA, working hard to establish the mission and vision of the agency while focusing on education, outreach, and collaboration in the formulation of policies and programs to regulate the cannabis industry in the state.
Andrew has spent nearly 20 years serving the public in a variety of leadership and frontline staff roles both within LARA and some of our sister state agencies. His professional background includes significant hands-on work with the residential builder program, as well as BCC's Ski and Carnival-Amusement programs. This invaluable experience will help to ensure he will hit the ground running as the Bureau Director.
Andrew will begin as director of BCC on Monday, September 19th, and he and the BCC team will continue with the good work they do every day to protect the people of Michigan. Should you have questions for BCC, please contact the Bureau by phone at 517-241-9313 or email at LARA-BCC-ASD@Michigan.gov.
Keith Lambert will remain on in his role as Deputy Director.
Important: Informative Webinar on July 26th at Noon - Register Here
Application Deadline: October 11th
On July 12, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Community Geothermal Heating and Cooling Design and Deployment Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), which will award $300,000–$13 million for projects that help communities design and deploy geothermal district heating and cooling systems, create related workforce training, and identify and address environmental justice concerns. The FOA will help expand community-scale geothermal by supporting new systems and developing case studies to be replicated throughout the country.
The FOA will support the formation of U.S.-based community coalitions that will develop, design, and install community geothermal heating and cooling systems that supply at least 25% of the heating and cooling load in communities. Eligible applications must demonstrate that switching to geothermal district heating and cooling system would result in greenhouse gas emission reductions for the community where the system is installed.
Widespread adoption of geothermal heating and cooling systems will help decarbonize the building and electricity sectors, reduce energy costs for families, and boost resilience. The FOA will also advance the objectives of DOE's Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) to realize the potential of community-scale geothermal heating and cooling nationwide.
GTO anticipates making approximately 1–10 awards under the initial phase of this FOA, with individual awards varying between $300,000 and $750,000. In the second phase, following a downselect, GTO anticipates making 1–4 awards, with individual awards between $2.5 million and $10 million.
DOE's Proposed Rule for Gas Furnaces Will Save Consumers Billions on Annual Energy Bills, Reduce Emissions and Build on Actions to Support Heat Pump Deployment
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden Administration through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today proposed new energy-efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers billions annually on their energy bills. Today's proposal is part of 100 energy-efficiency actions the Administration is completing this year to save the average family $100 a year. Under the proposed rule, non-weatherized gas furnaces and those used in mobile homes would be required to achieve an annual fuel utilization efficiency of 95%. These efficiency improvements would save consumers $1.9 billion annually and, over 30 years, reduce carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons and methane emissions by 5.1 million tons — the equivalent of what 61 million homes emit each year.
"By updating energy standards for many carbon-emitting appliances, such as home furnaces, the Biden Administration is working to save consumers money," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "These efficiency measures not only reduce carbon and methane emissions, but also provide huge material benefits to American households in the form of cleaner air, modernized technology, and cheaper energy."
In addition to boosting the efficiency of gas furnaces, which account for approximately 15% of annual U.S. residential energy use, the Biden Administration is also improving the accessibility and affordability of heat pumps—super-efficient electric equipment that can be used to heat and cool households. Last week, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to rapidly expand American manufacturing of five critical clean energy technologies, including heat pumps. This DPA authorization will reduce reliance on adversaries like Russia for oil and gas and expedite the installation of Made in America heat pumps across homes and other buildings. The proposed rule requests comment on heat pump price declines as a result of increased shipments expected from decarbonization policies and increased domestic supply of heat pumps from the DPA.
Achieving an annual fuel utilization efficiency of 95% (producing 95 British thermal units (BTUs) of heating for every 100 BTUs of natural gas consumed) would mean taking almost all of the gas used by the furnaces and turning it into heat provided to the living space. Modern condensing furnaces, which use a secondary heat exchangers to capture excess heat from the furnace's exhaust gases, make this standard achievable for every American home. Canada has already made the use of condensing furnaces mandatory for residential heating for over a decade.
If adopted within DOE's proposed timeframe, the new rule will come into effect in 2029. DOE expects the new rule to save consumers a cumulative $30.3 billion over 30 years. A consumer that installs a furnace meeting the proposed levels, in order to replace a non-condensing, inefficient furnace, will save $60 on their utility bills annually. In addition to 15% of annual residential energy use, residential gas furnaces account for approximately 3.4% of all domestic energy use in the United States as of 2020.
DOE's Building Technologies Office implements minimum energy conservation standards for more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment. To learn more, visit the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program homepage.
Sun Protection Tips For Construction Workers
For many, the summer months mean vacations at the beach, lounging by the pool, and spending more time outside in the sun. For construction workers, summer means working long hours in the hot sun. All that time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of sunburn, sun poisoning, and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S with approximately 1 million people being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer each year. The three main types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, are primarily caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from exposure to the sun.
By proclamation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, July is Lakes Appreciation Month, highlighting the rich ecosystems, fresh drinking water, recreational appeal, and economic vitality that Michigan's 11,000 inland lakes and four bordering Great Lakes provide.
"In Michigan, our lakes – Great and small – define us. Every Michigander is dedicated to protecting our lakes and ensuring that we pass them on to future generations," said Gov. Whitmer. "This July, when so many of us enjoy our Pure Michigan experiences, we can reflect on how Michigan's lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater enrich our lives. Protecting them means tackling generational challenges such as aging infrastructure, invasive species, and climate change. Together, I know we will."
Michigan continues to award infrastructure grants to municipalities through the governor's $500 million bipartisan MI Clean Water Plan, ensuring Michiganders of access to clean and affordable drinking water. The governor's MI Healthy Climate Plan, meanwhile, creates a roadmap to a prosperous carbon-neutral economy by 2050 that will also protect the state's natural resources, including lakes.
Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) leads implementation of both plans. EGLE's Water Resources Division (WRD) protects and monitors Michigan's waters by establishing water quality standards, assessing the health of aquatic communities, encouraging natural shoreline practices, regulating wastewater discharges, and overseeing aquatic invasive species concerns and water withdrawals. The Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) oversees Great Lakes water policy and strategy implementation as well as representing the state at national forums. The Office of Climate and Energy (OCE) coordinates implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan.
Appreciating Michigan's lakes means respecting them, too – especially the immense power of the Great Lakes. When making summer plans for time at Great Lakes beaches, always use caution, pay attention to beach flag warnings (where available), and know that the lakes are prone to dangerous rip currents, crashing waves, and quickly changing weather patterns.
Of Michigan's 100-plus state parks, 42 offer access to Great Lakes shoreline, making them popular destinations for gatherings with family and friends. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers safety tips and information everyone should know before hitting the water.
The Wisconsin-based nonprofit North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) promotes Lakes Appreciation Month internationally, with at least 25 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces joining this year's effort. NALMS encourages lakes-related activities including shoreline cleanups, educational tours, boating, swimming, birding, and photography.
Here are resources for learning more about Michigan's lakes and how to help keep them healthy: