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For Thomas Heine, the market manager of EC Upgrades at ebm-papst A/NZ, his job is to focus on energy savings and sustainability.

Fan upgrades put him on the front line of improved efficiency but it isn't always as straight forward as it seems.

“We don't succeed just by offering something that is efficient or environmentally friendly. It's got to make commercial sense as well,” Heine said.

“I see an opportunity in every setback and to get these hard cases across the line it requires a lot of work.

“But I am not afraid to make changes halfway through or even towards the end of a project if this is needed.

“Fans are such an essential part of any HVACR equipment that what I do has an immediate impact on its performance. It is a good place to be.”

Heine first joined ebm-papst in Germany in June 2004 and was assigned to support subsidiaries in Africa, Asia Pacific and Australia as a project engineer.

“The majority of fan applications in these regions are for HVACR. I liked it immediately as we constantly released new products and I could see that markets accepted them and asked for more. The uptake of EC technology was exciting and took everybody by surprise,” Heine said.

“I enjoy being involved with end-users, contractors and consultants and would like to spend more time with these groups. I think the value that we all get out of a closer collaboration is very beneficial.”

Asked about the biggest challenges facing industry right now and Heine sees a huge disconnect between the person who pays for servicing and running the equipment (and experiencing its performance) and the people installing it.

“It is hard to sell a good design that is usually more expensive because builders and contractors compete initially on price. There is little incentive to source and install something that is more expensive but also more efficient and performs better,” he said.

“I think the long term fix for this is, first of all, better education and making people more aware. Tenants and property owners need to question and demand more from their builders.

“Another option is rating tools for consultants, builders and contractors that tells potential clients the quality of work they can expect.”

Asked about career highlights, Heine recalls a project in South Korea.

“I spent days crawling around in a suspended ceiling in a flat screen TV plant in South Korea. We had over 12,000 filter fan unit EC fans installed and the firmware needed an update,” he said.

“The size of this project was an eye opener and the dedication of our sales engineers on site was inspiring.”

If Heine was president of the world of HVACR what would he change?

“Mandatory performance testing for all buildings including the mandatory disclosure of the results. For any real estate that you buy or lease there needs to be a fact sheet highlighting the building's leakage, average yearly consumption (gas/electricity/water) and some sort of overall energy rating,” he said.

The sponsor of this year's award was Innotech with the winner announced by the company's NSW branch manager, Joel Fraser.

“Innotech would like to congratulate Thomas Heine from ebm-papst for winning the Leader in Energy Savings and Sustainability category," he said.

"It is vitally important to keep energy savings and sustainability at the forefront of the HVACR agenda, and to have forward thinking leaders such as Thomas Heine setting examples for others to follow.”

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