Take 5: Thierry Pelletier IMI Hydronic Engineering

Name : Thierry PELLETIER
Position : Directeur général
Company : IMI Hydronic Engineering France

What is your current role?

As director of the French subsidiary of IMI Hydronic Engineering, my team and I contribute to the improvement of new and existing HVAC installations through balancing solutions and hydraulic control (IMI-TA brand); through managing the operating pressure and the water quality of the circuits (IMI-PNEUMATEX brand) and regulating thermostatically controlled radiators and underfloor heating (IMI-HEIMEIER brand). We produce neither heat nor cold, nor do we transfer it, but we manage everything that happens in the pipes that connect these devices. Our business can be compared to air traffic controllers, except that we work with the flow of water and our passengers arrive and depart on time, on clean and well marked trails in the best possible conditions in terms of comfort, economy and safety.

What is the most interesting project you have participated in or the greatest accomplishment in your career?

More than a personal achievement, working in the HVAC field is a passion for me. Human beings naturally conserve our energy: we go in the shade when it gets too hot; we seek shelter when it’s cold. Our business makes sense and has a purpose. We contribute every day to improving the security, comfort and efficiency of men and women. If the solutions we implement are not always very visible, then it is when they are absent or faulty that we notice them: interrupting operations in hospitals, poor food storage, or simply that the water is too cold in the shower, or unbearable heat waves in our apartment in the city.

To be effective at work, to then be able to relax and enjoy ourselves in good conditions, that is the service HVAC companies carry out for society in a value chain that extends from designing to installing more complex and efficient (regarding the consumption of primary energy) systems.

What surprised you (or maybe even still surprises you) in HVAC & Refrigeration?

What surprises me, even today, is that we can achieve significant and measurable energy savings with simple and local solutions!

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the HVAC & Refrigeration industry?

Our biggest challenge is the ability to obtain, under actual conditions in the user’s home, the equipment manufacturer’s stated theoretical efficiency. Buildings consume 40% of the total energy while we are expected to respect the environmental and economical factors in vigour. When replacing a piece of equipment at the end of its life, customers expect a return on their investment. However the innovative products of today require, in order to deliver the expected performance, more and more precise operating conditions. If these conditions are not met, and after one year of operation the performance guarantees are not honored, then it is not good for anyone. So let’s be pragmatic: for these innovative products to demonstrate all their qualities, we need a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between the components of the system and a completely flawless implementation (installation and maintenance). If HVAC companies are generally competent in their field, strengthening requirements for energy efficiency requires a holistic approach to the installation and therefore an overall understanding of the hydraulic installation. In short, it is not enough to buy a Stradivarius to play good music: beyond the necessary talent of the artist, it takes a quality bow in harmony with the violin to play the perfect note.

Sometimes, for the sake of saving a few euros on a small yet critical accessory or a botched installation, we waste year’s worth of time, effort and money! If only the foreman knew…

Do you have any predictions for the future of HVAC systems?

Preserve the environment while continuing to live with our time is a race. Saving an extra kWh or saving a ton of extra CO2 is becoming ever more difficult. The sophistication of solutions continues to grow and users rightly ask that energy savings promises are measured and kept. This is an exciting challenge.