Last year, as HPAC Engineering magazine was developing its Engineer of the Year Award, the staff did research to see what kind of recognition programs were already out there for professional engineers who ply their trade in the HVAC Industry. We were very surprised by the fact that the only recognition programs belonged to trade associations and universities.

There is nothing wrong with that, but there really wasn’t an industrywide program to set the stage for continued excellence. That is why we created the Engineer of the Year.

I believe these kind of programs not only recognize excellence, but showcase practices, methodologies, products, and skills in a way so others can learn from them and improve themselves. It isn’t necessarily all about winning fame. It’s about recognizing and promoting achievable excellence.

Which is why HPAC Engineering launched its Design Award program this year. The idea is to recognize examples of our readers’ outstanding and innovative design solutions in both commercial renovation and new construction applications. I am very pleased with the results.

The inaugural winner is a company based in Phoenix, AZ. The SmithGroupJJR and its project—the newly built Chandler City Hall—is recognized in "You Can't Fight This Outstanding Design". SmithGroupJJR designed a mechanical system that is energy efficient and provides excellent indoor comfort from both a temperature and air-quality standpoint, despite being located in the Arizona desert.

As Senor Editor Ron Rajecki writes, “The overall design responds to the harsh desert climate and, at the same time, provides for appropriate outdoor spaces that introduced much needed green spaces to the heart of the city’s downtown.”

The project is on track to achieve Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The article highlights the design details, the reasoning for the approach the engineers chose, and data on the results.

This year’s runner up is Portland, OR-based Glumac for its Pacific Retirement Services’ Mirabella Retirement Community.

The idea is not only to recognize excellence, but to give the industry great examples of just how creative we can be in resolving customer comfort and energy problems in a green, environmentally conscious manner.

From my perspective, the work being done by the readers of this magazine can be counted among the very best in this industry. As engineers and facilities managers, the work that you do every day is vital to the productivity, health, and safety of America’s workforce.

Shouldn’t that work be independently recognized in a national forum? Perhaps next year, in the July 2013 edition of HPAC Engineering, one of your projects will be showcased. But you have to submit an entry to win!

Likewise, our Engineer of the Year Award is geared toward showing the world excellent examples of highly professional and creative design/consulting engineers who operate in the modern HVACR marketplace today. You can read about the 2011 winner by pointing your browser here: bit.ly/HPAC_EOFY. We will be accepting nominations for this award until July 30, 2012 (the winner to be announced in September). If you are interested, please get the nomination information here: hpac.com/awards.

Again, I believe that competitions like these are good for the industry. These two in particular are among the best, even if I say so myself.

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