It’s easy to think of the massive shift towards energy-efficiency buildings and homes as an enterprise dominated mostly by industry giants, from power and lighting companies to construction and architecture firms. But as Rob “Doc” Falke writes this week at, that would be dangerously short-sighted — and overlooks what he sees as an equally massive opportunity for legions of HVAC technicians and managers to grow their businesses.

Falke may be onto something here: HVAC Technicians, after all, represent one of the fastest-growing, in-demand jobs in today’s otherwise sluggish labor market. And the efficiency conversion is a big reason why.

So how much significance does Falke place on all that? Plenty. Enough, in fact, to title his column “The American Dream,” in which he scripts a dramatic economic comeback for “the skilled craftsman” — the HVAC service companies and their workers around the country who instruct, install, repair and oversee a homeowner’s conversion to clean-tech structures and systems. As Falke notes:

“We control the efficiency of the biggest energy hog in the country and one that is not going away…a building’s comfort systems. The real solutions will not come from the minimum standards of government or from products created by manufacturers. It will be delivered solutions to excessive energy consumption provided by contractors, installers and technicians, one building at a time.”

If that sounds a little blue-sky, that’s for good reason:  Economic and technology trends in recent years and decades have diminished the value (and salaries) of frontline workers of the economy, from HVAC service techs to plumbers and cable guys. But the energy-efficiency movement opens new doors:  “The times are changing,” Falke notes.

“The day is coming that those willing to develop the skills and ability to deliver real energy efficiency and actual comfort will be in high demand. Those that manage and sell HVAC services will be able to demand the money deserved by such a trade. Setting our sites on offering services and products that fulfill basic needs of true comfort and developing the ability to deliver measureable energy savings in homes and buildings will build bright futures in a new profession within our industry. These new professionals that can actually do what others only talk about in the energy world are in high demand and will soon exceed the incomes of the mid-level college graduates.”