Last month’s issue of Snips included our first Green Product Showcase.. It shined a spotlight on the numerous sustainable building products that are helping contractors offer energy-efficient solutions to customers.

In this month’s issue, Snips focuses on equipment, software and vehicles. While it looks like the majority of sheet metal contractors haven’t made any changes to their fleet of vehicles (see poll results below), it looks like Detroit is making good on a promise to offer more energy-efficient vehicles. These vehicles could eventually help many contractors save money in fuel expenses.

For example, this November, General Motors will introduce its new Chevy Volt. The Volt, while still needing fuel, is being touted as revolutionary because it doesn’t use gas as its sole energy source. It can also be plugged in and charged with a basic 12-volt outlet.

The Chevy Volt might be great for contractors who want a green vehicle for their sales representatives. And General Motors is already working on a commercial version of the Volt that would be ideal for companies that need larger vehicles to move tools and other products.

The next few years are going to be an exciting time for the auto industry and the sheet metal industry could benefit from the strides being made in Detroit.

James J. Siegel is associate editor of Snips. June poll results

Have you upgraded your fleet of vehicles in the last year to be more energy efficient?

Yes. We’ve purchased conventional vehicles with better gas mileage. – 16 percent.

Yes. We’ve purchased new gas-electric hybrid vehicles. – 5 percent.

Yes. We’ve purchased both hybrids and conventional vehicles with better gas mileage. – 0 percent.

No. We have not made changes to our fleet. – 79 percent

Letters - Column was incorrect

I have to take exception to your column in the July issue of Snips (“Not playing catch-up any more,” Editor’s Page).

The contracting industry, especially the HVAC portion, has been playing catch-up to the sheet metal industry for the past 50 years.

Sheet metal contractors have been addressing the problem of air leakage in ductwork systems since the 1959 SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association) manual on low-velocity systems. Back then, duct leakage was approximately 20-25 percent. This air leakage meant larger fans and increased operating costs.

In 1978, Peter Arnoldt and I introduced the four-bolt duct-connection system to the industry. When properly installed, it provided zero leakage at the transverse connections. Since that time, other companies have made great strides. All of this was done when “green” was just another color.

The sheet metal industry has made other contributions to green building. When steamfitters would not permit installation of a packaged boiler, Edward F. Carlough, then president of the Sheet Metal Workers union, was encouraging contractors to purchase equipment that saved labor in fabricating ductwork.

I would say it’s about time the rest of the world caught up with the sheet metal industry. It has been green just as a matter of common sense for more than 50 years.

Lou Ward, CEO

C.L. Ward & Family Inc.

Canonsburg, Pa.