HVAC Engineers

Within the field of high volume air conditioning there are technicians and engineers. Some of their responsibilities overlap, but the engineers job description and what he or she does for the home or business owner is very precise. In this discussion, the question; HVAC engineers: what do they do will be answered.

The HVAC engineer designs HVAC systems for homes, businesses and commercial buildings using knowledge gained in refrigeration, mechanical and electrical engineering. The engineer creates blueprints, end-user manuals, training manuals, and documents showing installation procedures for technicians and the home or business owner. These directives are created in compliance with the manufacturers specifications. The goal of the engineer is to create an environment that is comfortable and conducive to good health for the occupant. The HVAC engineer also seeks to make sure all installations and maintenance procedures are in compliance and in line with standards as set forth by all leading high volume air conditioning organizations and associations. HVAC engineers also want to ensure that products installed are energy efficient meeting all requirements of the Department of Energy. It is also required of the engineer that he/she work within the funding options and budget of the construction contractor and other decision makers in the installation process.

Engineers and Codes

HVAC engineers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all products and procedures are in compliance with national, state, and local codes. Compliance with each associations best practices are expected.

The International Code Council(ICC) is an association dedicated to creating and developing codes and standards for the design, build and compliance process to construct risk free, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. This association has over 350 chapters nationwide. The ICC includes the codes as established by state, county, and municipal coding systems across the nation. It also encompasses a family of companies to include the ICC Evaluation Service, the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation and the International Accreditation Service. Citizens of Alabama may peruse and review codes for HVAC and other industries by navigating to https://www.iccsafe.org/about-icc/government-relations/map/alabama/#.

The state of Alabama Building Commission may also be found at http://bc.alabama.gov/buildingcode.htm

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers(ASHRAE). https://www.ashrae.org/ This society was founded in 1894 and is dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of high volume air conditioning and refrigeration. The society also promotes sustainable development and the creation of products that conserve energy and produce exceptional atmospheric conditions. The societies goals include the increase of industrial, technical, educational, and professional growth for its members.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute(AHRI) http://www.ahrinet.org/  is another organization that engineers are educated by and follow as determiners of best practices, energy efficient products and procedures. This organization is a trade association that represents manufacturers of air conditioning, heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment. The association represents HVAC manufacturers before the United States Congress, federal agencies, and the court system.

The AHRI has a research branch of its administrative structure called The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Institute(ARTI). It provides research and analysis of products and procedures to increase product efficiency ratings. It is also concerned with exactly how to integrate present technologies in HVAC with current architectural and building theory.

Another association that influences and impacts the decisions made by HVAC engineers is The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association(SMACNA). https://www.smacna.org/ This association is accredited by the American National Standards Institute(ANSI). These associations concern themselves with architectural, industrial, and HVAC expertise. Specifically, they seek to research and enhance the use of sheet metal, ducts, indoor air quality, welding, roofing, solar energy and energy efficiency.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME)https://www.asme.org/  was founded in 1880 and promotes the art, science, and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering. It offers educational opportunities and offers to its members guidelines based on recent knowledge gained through research.

Other organizations that directly and indirectly impact the field and function of HVAC engineers include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America(ACCA)

  • Air Movement and Control Association(AMCA International)

  • American Boiler Manufacturers Association(ABMA)

  • Associated General Contractors of America(AGC of America)

  • Canadian Boiler Society

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association(GAMA)

  • International Institute of Refrigeration(IIR)

  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration(HVACR)

  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America(MCAA)

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society(RSES)

After understanding the particular location where an HVAC system is to be installed, an engineer will make decisions in unison with installers, construction contractors, and local building codes to determine the most appropriate unit to be installed. The HVAC engineer uses computer-aided design to create blueprints that are given to contractors outlining the products to be used and where they should be placed in the home or business. The engineer may pay visits to the work location to ensure compliance with code, product specifications, and correct installation procedure. The engineer will work in concert with technicians to answer questions related to the install. He/she may also consult with the manufacturer of the HVAC product and answer any questions put to them by the home or business owner.

Educational Process

HVAC engineers are required to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in HVAC engineering technology, architectural engineering or mechanical engineering. Master’s degrees in these areas are welcome also. Students who study HVAC engineering focus on HVAC theory and application, advanced math, physics, HVAC system analysis and design, mechanical engineering, and computer aided design(CAD).

These types of engineers may also receive certification from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers in specialties such as

  • High performance building design

  • Health care facility design

  • Operations and performance management

  • Commissioning process management

Talk to any HVAC engineer and they will tell you that the most often used skill they use in the daily working of their career is problem solving. These kinds of engineers are called upon to use creativity and must use an extensive set of communication skills to articulate products, processes, and requirements to a myriad of individuals. A good engineer will be able to create and read blueprints, be good at cost estimates, and respond to unexpected situations in the install or maintenance of an HVAC system.