HVAC industry flowing

Increase in HVAC-related work coincides with a steady flow of projects across all sectors in the region

AS SCHOOLS, OFFICES, public spaces and factories all open back up, and as governments invest money in improving indoor air quality, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) contractors in the city have been keeping quite busy.

Here in the city, the Mechanical Contractors Association of London (MCAL) calculated a 15 per cent increase in HVAC work last year, comprising 80 per cent of their total hours worked, and they expect 2022 to continue this trend.

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“Creating safe and healthy work environments has always been a big part of union culture and the work we do for our clients everyday,” says Jack Parker, MCAL president. “It’s rewarding to be part of public health efforts to improve the health and safety of our most vital buildings and workplaces during a critical time.”

In fact, from a business volume perspective, the pandemic has been a golden goose for anyone in the HVAC installation business throughout the province.

According to the province-wide branch of the MCA, many systems are being upgraded. Pre-pandemic, most systems were pumping in around 10 per cent outdoor air, with the rest recirculating. Now, the MCA says, systems are being upgraded to pump in 20 per cent or more, with some buildings aiming to pump in 100 per cent outdoor air.

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“This work requires installing supplementary equipment, including energy efficient heat pumps and energy recovery ventilators,” says the MCA. “This will add the capacity to heat and cool the additional outdoor air, as well as chilled water piping and expanded boiler systems. Upgrading all these complex mechanical systems takes teams of highly skilled certified steam fitters, plumbers, pipe fitters and pipe welders along with many apprentices.”

“We are fortunate to have a high calibre of trade colleges and state-of-the-art UA skills and safety training centres in our region, that allow our members to contribute to vital projects that not only support the growth of the economy, but also the health and safety of our cities,” says Jason Pfeffer, business manager, UA Local 527, which represents plumbing and pipe fitting workers in southwestern Ontario.

Air quality has been a particularly hot-button issue in schools here in London. In January, a group of parents — arguing that the province hadn’t provided nearly enough resources — began fundraising for HEPA filters for Thames Valley District School Board classrooms. Many school boards, including TVDSB, have invested heavily in ventilation upgrades over the past two years as well.

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The HVAC industry has seen an uptick across Southwestern Ontario, as well. Windsor also saw a roughly 15 per cent increase in 2021, while the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kitchener-Waterloo reported a 25 per cent spike in HVAC work. A lot of that comes from the institution, commercial and industrial sectors in this region.

“The pandemic has put health and safety top of mind for everyone in a new way,” adds Dave Holek, president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Windsor. “As unionized mechanical contractors, our work contributes to the health and safety of our communities every day, from the food we eat to the water we drink and now ― more than ever ― the air we breathe inside our buildings. I am so proud how our industry sprang into action when the demand for improved air quality in schools and medical buildings became an urgent need.” HVAC industry flowing hvac Construction Kieran Delamont

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