It's never too late to make a resolution. We think about making healthier lifestyle choices this time of year but consider a resolution to help create a healthier planet. Each moment provides an opportunity to make a choice. We can choose to accelerate action toward or away from a sustainable future.
Ferguson first set a carbon reduction goal in 2016 and is working toward a greener tomorrow. While our journey continues, our efforts are already being recognized. In December, Ferguson received an A- for our commitment to sustainability from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
CDP is the global environmental non-profit organization whose annual report is widely recognized as the gold standard for corporate environmental transparency.
"Every action is meaningful," says Kelsey Bergan, Director of Sustainability. "It is inspiring to hear what our customers and vendors are doing to minimize their environmental impact. When we work together, it is amazing what we can accomplish - and I look forward to seeing what we achieve together in 2021."
Ferguson encourages all HVAC and plumbing contractors to resolve and commit to sustainability as we enter the new year. Here are nine HVAC and plumbing industry-related resolutions to move us towards a greener, more ecological future as we enter the new year.
1. Educate customers on sustainability and environmentally-friendly products.
Offer to provide a water or HVAC system assessment. Once the audit is complete, HVAC and plumbing contractors can offer customers conservation information, tips and resources such as upgrading to high-efficiency plumbing fixtures or upgrading homeowners' HVAC systems with a smart thermostat. Customers want to know that they don't have to give up luxury and powerful performance in exchange for sustainable products. Newly designed high-efficiency fixtures and systems provide the same comforts as their wasteful counterparts. And as a bonus, customers love knowing that less water and energy consumption equals less money owed on home utility bills. Looking for sustainable product certifications, like EnergyStar or WaterSense labels, is a great way to ensure that HVAC and plumbing customers will save for years to come.
2. Commit to green continuing education.
Today, plumbers and HVAC technicians do more than install and maintain systems. The advances in plumbing and HVAC and the proliferation of connected home and water and air purification technologies have increased trade professionals' opportunities to serve their customers by learning new skills. Many of these advances and new technologies offer sustainable advantages and minimize energy and water consumption.
As consumer interest grows, many contractors and skilled trades professionals will be forced to uplevel their skills or be left behind. Professionals who develop their knowledge, skills and competencies between service calls and business management will be ahead of the curve. Partner with a trusted trade organization that understands the growing impact sustainability makes in the industry to ensure that the correct continuing education is obtained.
3. Bring reusable bottled water and other reusable items to the job site.
The reasons to avoid disposable plastic are endless. High among them is that they take hundreds of years to break down, and in the process, they release toxins that are harmful to the planet and you.
An excellent first step is to bring a filled water bottle, save land and money by carrying water in a reusable bottle to the worksite. Did you know? Bottled water is less regulated than tap water and is much more expensive. This one small step saves land and money.
Let's not forget plastic tableware. HVAC and plumbing professionals can consider keeping their own items in their truck instead of using plastic items to reduce unnecessary waste. If they have to use disposable items, look for things that can be made into compost after use or used multiple times.
4. Reuse. Recycle.
Recycling is one of the most straightforward steps HVAC and plumbing contractors can take. It reduces pollution in landfills and also reduces the demand for raw materials to protect our investment resources. Certain things like construction and plumbing pipe are not safe or sanitary for recycling. However, contractors can resolve to find ways to repurpose, donate and reprocess the waste generated from worksites. For example, when replacing outdated plumbing fixtures, recycle them if they are brass or copper (with the homeowner's consent.) If parts or systems are in decent condition, donate them to an apprentice program for future skilled trades professionals to have for learning purposes. Evaluate everything that is hauled from a project and see what is available for reuse and what can be recycled.
5. Offer routine maintenance visits.
Offer your customers an annual maintenance program and perform an inspection of their systems. During this service, audit their system to ensure it is functional and avoid costly problems before they occur. To ensure efficiency and productivity of systems, offer annual maintenance such as changing out air filters or providing annual water heater upkeep. For many customers, this is a welcomed reminder and service. For example, Ferguson offers products like refrigerant leak detectors that can help clients minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
6. Offer virtual consultations.
This past year, many people became comfortable with virtual meetings and consultations. If a customer calls and is concerned about a sound or a strange occurrence, offer to meet via Zoom, FaceTime, Teams or another virtual conference tool to see if you can diagnose the severity of the issue or if there is a part you can pick up before heading to their house to save time and fuel.
7. Invest in new technology.
In addition to annual maintenance, provide additional preventative services in the form of water leak detection. Early detection with technology seeks to help reduce home and product damage, save customers money and prevent water pollution. Some manufacturers offer leak detection devices that can be installed easily in customers' homes. Although leak detection technology may have an upfront cost, its value is easy to demonstrate to homeowners. When HVAC and plumbing contractors add them to their list of business services, they can attract customers as leak detection technology can save thousands of dollars per year.
8. Use durable materials and shop locally.
Consider the life span of materials. Some products have a longer service life, require less maintenance and better prevent leakage. HVAC and plumbing contractors should discuss the pros and cons of the materials chosen for a job with homeowners so they can make an informed decision.
Additionally, shop locally. Over time, shopping within the local community saves money on fuel consumption. When HVAC and plumbing contractors have to drive a town or more away to get a part and there is a warranty issue, then they are using both gas and time resources as they work through it. Additionally, when they order online, the carbon footprint of a fixture, part or system can be vast.
Ferguson recently joined the SmartWay® Transport Partnership, an innovative collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry that provides a framework to assess the environmental and energy efficiency of goods movement supply chains.
Ferguson will contribute to the partnership's savings of 279.7 million barrels of oil, $37.5 billion in fuel costs and 134 million tons of air pollutants. This is equivalent to eliminating annual energy use in over 18.2 million homes. By joining SmartWay Transport Partnership, Ferguson demonstrates its strong environmental leadership and corporate responsibility.
9. Look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
The carbon footprint of the built environment can be vast. In the plumbing and HVAC industry, there are many opportunities to minimize our environmental impact. Check out The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, a free and easy-to-use tool that allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon per material category, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials. The tool enables industry professionals to think about their carbon impact at the time of definition and purchase.
Again, it’s not too late. Ferguson encourages all HVAC and plumbing contractors to provide sustainable solutions as we enter the new year. As we start in the new year, Ferguson is excited to hear how HVAC and plumbing contractors help move us towards a vibrant and green future.