As I write this, the month of December is just getting under way and the year of 2011 is just about wrapped up. It’s a year that saw a lot of change, a year that, in some cases, didn't rise to the level of our expectations and in other cases, simply surprised us.

Last December, the world was still waiting for the recession to REALLY end. If you remember, economists announced it was over in September 2010. Exciting times, right. Well it's December 2011 and we're still waiting.

In fact, early on it appeared that the recovery would be led by our friends in China, and though their economy is booming, the rest of the world — primarily the U.S. and Europe — remains sluggish at best. The current issue of The Economist examines the quite real possibility of the failure of the Euro, which would have a tremendous negative impact on the rest of the world economy (http://econ.st/EuroEnd).

On January 28, 2011, President Obama downplayed the U.S. role in foreign affairs in a speech given to a joint session of Congress, saying the focus had to be on domestic issues — job creation being "job one."

Unfortunately, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the threat of Iran, the European financial crises, and the infamous Arab Spring that saw the overthrow of governments throughout the Middle East (say goodbye to Muammar Gaddafi), forced the U.S. to remain focused on foreign issues.

The world witnessed the devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March that seriously damaged some of that country's nuclear reactors and contributed to the demise of economies around the world. Coverage and rescue operations during the aftermath of that 9.0 magnitude quake relied heavily on social media, which continues to be a driving force in the new age of communications and information sharing.

As social media and the Internet continue to play major and growing roles in business throughout the world, we witnessed the reinvention of one of thee greatest platforms —the IPad — by a bevy of competitors from Sony to Google. Then in October, we said goodbye to the IPad's inventor and one of the greatest business minds and computer entrepreneurs, Steven Jobs, who finally lost his battle with cancer (http://nyti.ms/S_jobs).

We've seen scandals (Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky) and protests (the anti Wallstreet/Big Business "Occupy" events), and the political debates between presidential candidates.

Most recently, Iranian students ransacked the British Embassy in Tehran over nuclear sanctions — reminiscent of the sacking of the U.S. Embassy there in 1979.

In this industry, we saw a shift in the 2011 Congress away from regulation as its members began preparing for elections. Even so, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), issued a direct final ruling on furnace and air conditioner efficiency. The regional efficiency standards ruling went into effect October 25, 2011, leaving the country divided into three regions: North, Southeast, and Southwest.

This wasn't unexpected, but certainly was met with both kudos and jeers from various trade associations throughout the HVAC industry.

From the Smart Grid to the impact of VRF technology in the U.S., from the endless discussions on climate change and environmental sustainability to the slight improvements in product shipments, the HVACR industry seems poised for another interesting year.

I'm ready to kiss 2011 goodbye and look forward to the new year. From the staff of HPAC Engineering, have a happy, safe, and profitable 2012.

Stay healthy my friends.

Send comments and suggestions to mike.weil@penton.com.