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A member asked us: Help! I’m lost in a sea of jargon and business buzzwords! How can I keep up, put up, or move up? I feel like I am drowning in all the trendy new words and phrases. When are they useful, or just simply annoying? Hilary Atkins, ACCA’s General Counsel, replies: The following is taken from “Business Buzzwords and How to Avoid Them” in SHRM’s (the Society of Human Resources Management”) Express Requests resource for Trending Topics.© SHRM is a great resource and comes highly recommended for just about every HR topic and issue. The next time a supervisor asks you to help "maximize synergy in order to move the needle," hand her a summary ...
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Several years ago, Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and ACCA began discussions about how the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index should reflect the installation of the largest energy-using appliance in homes across America, the HVAC system.  Three years ago, RESNET formed a working group to draft the standard, which is now an American National Standard! Download RESNET/ACCA Standard 310-2020 “Standard for Grading the Installation of HVAC Systems” now. What Is in RESNET / ACCA Standard 310? The standard outlines five separate tasks that can be performed by the HVAC professional or a HERS Rater.  These tasks evaluate and grade aspects ...
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Ageism in the Workplace

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A member asked us: We are looking to diversify our workforce and want to start with the older, unsung, workers. What can we do to become more age-friendly to employees? Hilary Atkins, ACCA’s General Counsel, replies: Today's older workers are often better educated and living longer than any previous generation. They also want to remain in the workforce longer, but discrimination and outdated assumptions are making that a tricky proposition for many experienced employees, and overt acts of ageism are only expected to get worse as the number of older workers grows. Companies that allow biases to run rampant are sabotaging their ability to hire and retain ...
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A member asked us: Can I demote an employee (in title, wage, or both) from a managerial position if their performance as a manager has consistently proven to be sub-standard compared to the job description? Multiple meetings with the employee have not garnered any positive change in their performance. This person is an hourly wage employee. Adam and Reese’s Brooke Duncan responds: Well, yes–you can demote the employee and pay him or her less. But then you’ll have a lesser paid, lower level employee with a history of poor performance to contend with. Having said this, you might also find that the employee is relieved to no longer have managerial duties ...
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A member asked us: My company would like to implement a no-smokers hiring policy. Can we do that? Hilary Atkins, ACCA’s General Counsel, replies: Although individuals who smoke have no constitutional right to smoke or federal employment law protection, some states prohibit discrimination based on legal, off-duty activities, which may apply here. Some states go as far as to specifically prohibit employers from making complete prohibition from smoking a condition of employment, so employers are advised to check with counsel for laws in the states an employer has employees. Once the employer has confirmed there is no state employment law prohibition against no-smoker ...
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On July 2, ACCA reached out to Congressional leadership in opposition to Title LIV of S. 4049, Establishing Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would impose burdensome, unnecessary regulations on contractors. The provision would require small business owners to file onerous paperwork, such as the passport numbers and other personal information, with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). These reports would need to be completed within 90 days of any ownership change. Failure to comply would cost business owners $500 per day up to $10,000, up to 4 years in prison, ...
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On Wednesday evening Congress reached an agreement to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline to August 8, 2020. The previous deadline was earlier this week. If you are interested in applying for a PPP loan and have not yet done so, you can reach out to your preferred financial lender(s).
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The only constant thing is change.  Our industry is about to change again.  Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants were identified to be phased out due to their high ozone depletion potential (ODP). CFC's were phased out in 2000, and HCFC 22 will be phased out in 2020. Now hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) will begin to be phased out too.  There is a transition away from HFC refrigerants with a GWP rating higher than 750.  R410a has a GWP of 2,088.  To achieve the requirement for a low GWP (and low ODP), the new refrigerants will contain small amounts of gasses that are flammable, ...
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The 2018 Edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) requires condensate from cooling coils and evaporator coils to be conveyed from the primary drain pan outlet to an approved place of disposal (IRC Section M1411.3).  In addition, a secondary drain or auxiliary drain pan is required for each cooling or evaporator coil where damage to any building components will occur as a result of overflow from the equipment drain pan or stoppage in the condensate drain piping.  A good example would be an installation located in an attic.  There are 4 methods specified for doing this: 1. Install an auxiliary drain pan with a separate drain that discharges to a conspicuous ...
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Disaster Preparedness  for  Contractor s   Hurricane season is here, and since June 1, 2020, there have been three named storms. The latest, Cristobal caused floods and wind damage from Louisiana to portions of the Midwest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts this season to be unusually active with 13 to 19 more named storms on the horizon- a sizeable step above the 10.1 designated storm average.  After Hurricane Katrina, ACCA created the ACCA Disaster Preparedness effort, with resources for you to use  to  help your customers and community be prepared for when a natural disaster  strikes .   This ...
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Recently H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives. While the $1.5T bill's primary focus is funding for infrastructure and transportation programs, ACCA is pleased that several HVAC contractor priorities have made it into the text, including:  Expansion of the 25C tax credit for residential energy efficiency improvements. This expansion would boost the credit to 15% of eligible expenses up to $1200, with revised product performance requirements and individual product category caps. Expansion of the 45L tax credit for homebuilders. This would boost the credit from $2,000 to $2,500 update the performance requirements, ...
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In the HVAC business, safety is paramount. You owe it to your employees to allow them to go home in the same condition they came into work. In the workplace, safety is everyone's responsibility. No matter how minor the accident or injury, it can cost the company, the technician, and the client unnecessary losses of time and money. Good working habits, proper tools, and being vigilant to potential hazards can help reduce accidents. One factor that HVAC field personnel is exposed to is extreme weather conditions. Summer is here, and that means exposure to excessive temperatures while working. Heat rashes are the most common problem. As sweating increases, ...
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A member asked us: Has anyone ACCA has heard from over the past couple of years had to develop or implement a specific corrective action dealing with repeat offenders of phishing testing clicks? Because of the increased scams and phishing schemes over the past year, we put a testing and training program in place that deliberately sends in false phishing emails to test the behavior and decision making process of our email users. Unfortunately, there have been repeat offenders. Any input would be very helpful!!  Thank you!! Hilary Atkins, ACCA’s General Counsel, replies: This is a great question! I honestly think you should take a tiered response to ...
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Drug Testing Employees

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A member asked us: We have an employee who is working on a 90-day trial basis. I have a suspicion he might be on drugs. What procedure do I have to follow to have him tested? Do I have to test all employees? Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and Reese in New Orleans, LA, responds: Georgia, where this employer is located, has regulations regarding drug testing in connection with workers compensation: to get a discount on comp premiums, an employer testing program has to meet certain criteria. For testing outside the context of workers comp, no particular rules apply. It is permissible to send the employee for testing, and of course you should utilize ...
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Following the passage of the PPP Flexibility Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued rules on loan forgiveness which provide clarity on the treatment of payroll expenses, and how much of the funds can be spent on non-payroll expenses. Namely, the threshold for forgiveness has been reduced from 75% of funds being spent on payroll expenses to 60%. Moreover, participants who took out loans prior to June 5th may choose to use either the 8-week period or the 24 week period.  The rule also clarifies that PPP funds are eligible for forgiveness if they are spent on the following: Payroll costs including salary, wages, and tips, up to $100,000 of annualized ...
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Recently the Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in filing an amicus brief opposing an AFL-CIO lawsuit that would have required OSHA to implement an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS).  The ETS would have imposed additional unnecessary and financially burdensome COVID-19 related workplace regulations for contractors on top of the federal, state, and local regulations that have already been put in place.  ACCA provided the court with information regarding the successes of current strategies that have been implemented by employers across the country.  These efforts resulted in the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals ...
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A recent study released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on K-12 schools in the United States revealed the dire state of education infrastructure in our country. Specifically, the study found that HVAC systems are the most in need of repair or replacement, being damaged or outdated in roughly four in every ten school districts nationwide. This means that nearly 36,000 schools in the United States need some form of HVAC service. The failure to address this issue could pose significant health and safety problems to students, educators, and school staff in all 50 states. As we collectively look towards economic recovery, ACCA hopes that Congress ...
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Hurricane season is upon us, and ACCA  has put together information for you to share with your customers to help them  best protect  their  HVAC system in  worst-case  weather  condition   scenario s.   Hurricane like weather can lead to brownouts, power outages, and power surges that can damage your HVAC system. When initially installing your HVAC unit, it is essential to make sure the house is properly grounded. A ground rod is designed to stabilize voltages from the power source and to dissipate a static discharge to earth.  Proper grounding  helps to reduce the effect of lighting on your unit. It is also crucial that customers are aware ...
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The May 2020 Jobs Report provided us with a hopeful outlook as many states move to reopen their economies.  The report found much higher job creation and lower unemployment rates than previous forecasts suggested. In total, roughly 2.5 million jobs were added--the highest single month total ever. This is a sign that the US economy is improving and will continue to improve as the worst of the COVID-19 economic crisis appears to be behind us. This is good news for contractors, especially as we move towards the hottest months of the year.  Here at ACCA, we will continue to help HVACR professionals across the country work and transition to a full reopening safely. ...
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ACCA is investigating the possibility of using data collected by smart thermostats to estimate the heat loss and gain for an existing dwelling.  The project will explore development of a formula to calculate the load, the data set size needed for a reliable estimate, and an algorithm to process the information and produce a Manual J block load for the house (or zone).     One option for future implementation is to see this new Manual J process embedded in smart thermostats.  When it’s time to replace the old system, the HVAC professional pushes a button and the Manual J heat loss and gain are provided. But before we get there, we need some data to establish ...
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