HVAC/ Very High Efficiency Dedicated Outside Air Systems Specifier Focus Groups Report

Between July and August 2020, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) contracted with Sparrow Strategy, Focus Crossroads and 20|20 Research, to complete this mixed methods study. This report seeks to enhance NEEA’s understanding of the barriers to adoption of Very High Efficiency Dedicated Outside Air Systems (VHE DOAS), possible intervention strategies, and guidance on the development of VHE DOAS outreach materials through focus groups with commercial HVAC “specifiers” (contractors/installers, mechanical engineers, architects, and vendors). Objectives of the study include 1) learning specifiers’ on-the-job mindsets, including motivations, frustrations and business models; 2) understanding how they think about NEEA’s VHE DOAS approach; and, 3) gaining feedback about NEEA’s prototype outreach materials.

The report found that 1) team communication, project planning, and the need to be on time/on budget are even stronger for VHE DOAS projects than for traditional commercial HVAC installations; 2) building type, type of installation (retrofit or new construction), and funding source are the key factors for consideration of VHE DOAS; and, 3) meeting code is perceived as a ‘cost of entry’ for all market actors and isn’t an additional motivator for DOAS consideration.

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