A glimpse of the HVAC, BAS market

Here is the story of the mechanical, or HVAC, engineer. Take a look at this snapshot of where your business stands today.


One of the things I find most interesting to construct--and then pick apart--is research. Some people's eyes may glaze over at statistics or spreadsheets or colorful charts, but I think it's fascinating to learn about the data. If you mull the general topic of research over a cup of tea or a pint of beer, it's really a cold topic. It's just numbers and figures in black and white. To me, data tells a story--a sequence of events or a glimpse into a particular subject. Crunching numbers is not cold and hard; it's verification that a gut feeling or a personal conversation is correct.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC survey dataAt Consulting-Specifying Engineer, we've known for some time what our audience looks like. But anecdotes shared over the phone and in-person conversations don't always tell the full story, so we've asked the expert--you--to share information with us. In return, I share with you the story of the mechanical, or HVAC, engineer. Here's a snapshot of where your business stands today.

· A basic summary of the survey, conducted in December 2012: Most respondents (69%) work at consulting engineering, design/build/construction, or architecture/engineering firms. Eight out of 10 respondents are management, senior engineers, or C-level executives. In terms of age, 59% of you are over 51 (and 14% of you are older than 65).

· The HVAC market is strong: 47% of those surveyed work at a firm that specifies $1.1 million or more annually in HVAC and building automation/control products. This verifies reports from the Federal Reserve Board and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation that HVAC product production will likely trail the rebound in housing and nonresidential construction; a 4% increase is forecast for 2013, and a 7% increase for 2014.

· Of the survey respondents, 54% have more than 20 years of experience. While that means we're seeing many seasoned engineers in the field, it also means that succession planning is more important than ever before. It means that up-and-coming engineers need to start taking leadership roles, and learn from and with their supervisors. For some leadership tips, see this month's Career Smart column.

· 13% of respondents indicated that codes and standards updates are the No. 1 item needed in order to perform better on the job. One of the top Google search terms in our industry is "ASHRAE 90.1." To help meet this need for updated information on Standard 90.1, read the codes and standards column.

The story does not stop here, however. As you might remember from a basic mathematics or statistics class, most data points will fall somewhere on a bell curve. There's the average, and then there are the anomalies. So if your personal statistics in any way buck the trends above, I'd like to hear from you. Comment below, or e-mail me at arozgus@cfemedia.com.

Anonymous , 02/27/13 05:52 PM:

The categorization of Engineering disciplines, in numerous surveys has limited granularity. I have seen surveys which leave out an area if the engineers work for a owner, or the Federal Government (Facilities Engineers - which would include US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, NASA, etc.). It would be interesting to see if respondents are ‘engineers’ or technicians check-box the title of engineers, i.e. if they are graduates from accredited 4-Year College/University. It may not interest the publishers of CSE and other publishers, but absence of this data does not provide the needed picture of the actual skills/knowledge of readers, which would be useful to adjust the depth and quality of the ‘magazine’ in terms of technical content.
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