There are just some words that bother me. For example, the word “utilize.” Why do people even use this when the word “use” works just fine? Some may say I’m just an overreacting editor, and they may well be right. Still, it’s one of my pet peeves.

Another is the phrase “paradigm shift.” In this case, these two words have just been used too much and have become almost like Karmic chants to bring about massive change in the universe. OK, I know that is exactly what paradigm shift means, but it has been the jargon of choice for so many years that it is just worn out.

According to Thomas Kuhn, considered the person who defined and popularized the concept of paradigm shift: “advancement isn’t evolutionary. It’s a series of  peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions where one conceptual world is replace by another.”

Unlike the word “utilize,” paradigm shift still carries weight with regard to the changes occurring in the U.S. business and market culture today.

Mke Weil, Editorial DirectorLet me explain. In my business, the paradigm shift happening right now is how editorial content is developed and disseminated to readers. As important as printed magazines are, technology now enables us to provide that content to readers in any form they want to read it in: blogs, e-newsletters, online photo galleries, and other digital avenues. With this digital approach, we now have metrics to measure how spot-on our content is or isn’t with our audience.

This changes the methodology for producing and sharing our articles and makes it faster for us to help the HVAC industry stay ahead of waves of paradigm shifts of its own. It’s not easy. But it works and the idea is to revolutionize communication among designers, specifiers, contractors, owners, as well as manufacturers.

For example, we’ve watched how electronics tech has crept into the products and into the tools engineers USE to design mechanical systems, to monitor them, and to warn end users that something is amiss or about to be amiss.

HPAC Engineering works hard to keep tabs on these changes and cover them as they happen. Last year, in the article titled, “The Future of BIM,“  author Sam Robbins from Autodesk explains how digital infrastructure, big data, and emerging markets are redefining the way mechanical engineers and contractors work.

In 2001, Geoff McDonnell, PE, LEED AP, wrote an article for us on how “Building Science and Integrated Design” are changing the role HVAC engineers play in overall building design and construction. As McDonnell wrote, the process of “reactive design,” where HVAC engineers design comfort systems to fit into an already-designed building, had to change if this industry was to have a role in reducing mechanical-system and lighting energy consumption.

In this issue we present another article that proposes to shake things up a bit. The Grant Bowers article,  "Combining DOAS and VRF, Part 1 of 2," covers combining dedicated outdoor air systems with VRF technology to meet ventilation rates and maximize thermal comfort in a non-conflicting manner is definitely out-of-the-box thinking that could and possibly should cause a paradigm shift in HVAC-system design.

So despite its overuse, “paradigm shift” still applies. As Kuhn says, these shifts are almost always intellectually violent and lead to changes that replace how we do or view things. To me, that is the paradigm of paradigm shifts.

“Utilize,” on the other hand, remains a word that I think should be removed from our vocabulary.