Brian Baker & Joe Kokinda – HVAC & IAQ Inextricably Linked

Air Date: 12-16-2016|Episode 441

We have a very special show today with a special guest that is joining us to get some important thoughts on the record. Our Canadian friend will be joined by his friend and colleague Mr. Joe Kokinda from the great state of Ohio!

Full Description:

We have a very special show today with a special guest that is joining us to get some important thoughts on the record. Brian has been a guest and more importantly a tremendous supporter of our show. We appreciate his long time support, friendship and advice over the years. He is the kind of guy that helps make you appreciate every day that you wake up and can continue to affect positive change around you. Our Canadian friend will be joined by his friend and colleague Mr. Joe Kokinda from the great state of Ohio! Brian Baker is owner of Custom Vac Limited of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mr. Baker has been in the HVAC and IAQ industry for almost 40 years and is a huge education advocate. His list of training and certifications is extensive as is his hands on experience in this industry. We got to know Brian through his passion for IAQ Radio and realized he has something special to offer our listeners. Knowledge of HVAC is vital to evaluating IAQ issues and very few have Mr. Baker’s combination of experience and education. Brian taught HVACR related courses for the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) Winnipeg Chapter. In 2009 he opened Westech Energy Training Center where he currently teaches 5th Class Power Engineering, Preparation for Residential HVACR, Refrigerant Handling Certification, and manages the education/training for RSES Winnipeg Chapter via an on-line Internet delivery platform. Joseph Allan Kokinda, President/CEO of Professional HVAC/R Services Inc. of Avon, OH. Mr. Kokinda has 41 years of involvement in Marine, Industrial and Commercial Mechanical Trades. He is a licensed as a Master Refrigerant and/or Mechanical Contractor in six states. Joe started his mechanical career in 1975 with the US Navy on the USS Independence. Since then he has worked his way through various positions at several companies, in 2006 he opened Professional HVAC/R Services in Avon, OH. Professional has offered refrigeration and HVAC service for all Dollar Tree locations in Ohio, as well as other local restaurants and businesses. Since 2006 Professional has been installing pre-charged and remote refrigeration equipment for existing and new Dollar Tree stores, Family Dollar stores, and other entities throughout the Midwest.

Z-Man’s Blog:

HVAC & IAQ Inextricably Linked

40 year HVAC/R veteran, trade educator and owner of Custom Vac Limited of Winnipeg, Ontario and 41 year HVAC/R veteran and President/CEO of Professional HVAC/R Services, Inc. of Avon, Ohio were our guests on today

Training Models

Brian Baker:  50% of Canadian homes have air conditioning. 80% of homes in Manitoba have AC. Canada uses a compulsory apprenticeship training model for some trades. Currently approximately 451,000 apprentices enrolled. 8,000 sheet metal workers and 8,300 refrigeration and air conditioning. Canada has a nationalized trade program allowing the mobility of skilled workers. Enrolled journeymen and apprentices can work anywhere in the country.  Apprenticeship training is open to both union members and independents. Commenting that it is expensive, Brian prefers the combination of technical and hands-on training, the way it was done 20+ years ago. The only program that currently teaches the HVAC/R trade to high school students in Canada is in Winnipeg.  Apprentices are required to graduate from grade 12. Brian was instrumental in saving the program from closing.

Joe Kokinda: The USA has multiple climate zones. In the USA, Technician Certification and Licensing  is a states’ rights issue. Working across state lines requires onerous paperwork and duplicate costs. North American Technician Excellence [   Independent, non-profit national organization represents a shared commitment to improving the HVAC/R industry through voluntary testing and certification.] Joe isn’t an advocate of NATEX’s testing programs due to the costs of recertification that is involved. He’s not a fan of textbooks, as the days of carrying Manuals in the Service Truck have given way to Smart Devices, and 16 week training courses where teachers are incentivized for passing grades.  Most “Tech Schools” here in the USA have funding from various entities to subsidize their programs, accepting anyone who qualifies on that premise, not SKILLS relative to the Science and understanding what they are getting into. This is dangerous as most do not have what it takes to be on our Trades… The Passion to become the best. Joe’s Company uses YouTube, Dropbox, their website, weekly safety training delivered remotely, e books, Cengage Listening CD’s to use while driving, etc.

Joe Kokinda: In the USA the Union apprentice to journeyman requirements often aren’t followed due to the slim margins that Union Contractors are faced with in general relative to Labor and Union Fees. It’s common for more advanced apprentices to handle more sophisticated tasks on projects reserved for journeymen, which of course can be dangerous.

Brian Baker:  Technicians need both technical training and jobsite exposure, not competency judged by written tests.


Joe Kokinda: Is passionate about the importance of mentorship. He opines that mentorship should extend beyond the technical and provide physical and emotional guidance. Contractors eventually want to grow beyond working on the field. Employee mentorship is individualized by each business owner,  which he believes is woefully short of where it should be in the US, as many Business Owners do not see the value of making their Staff PROUD of what they do and do not help these people feel that they are indispensable .

Brian Baker: Mentorship flows through apprenticeship. In Canada, apprentices are required to be under direct hand-to-hand supervision of journeymen. Learning flows both ways. While apprentices learn the skills from journeymen, journeymen keep up to date by learning about new technology from apprentices. In Canada, more women are attracted to Power Engineering versus air conditioning and refrigeration.

IAQ training

Brian Baker: HVAC/R apprentices and journeyman need a foundational understanding of: heating, refrigeration, dehumidification, filtration, ventilation and movement of fluids through systems. To his dismay, IAQ isn’t being taught to HVAC/R contractors at the level it should. Knowledgeable HVAC/R contractors were green before there was green. Improving performance and occupancy comfort, diagnosing and resolving moisture problems are skills that should be taught to contractors. He opines that the HVAC/R field needs a new name that extends beyond dealing with equipment.

Joe Kokinda: There is a lack of IAQ training beyond equipment specified requirements. Such as pressurization and the importance of maintaining humidity during the winter for comfort are missing. He agrees that HVAC/R contractors need a new moniker. Joe is on a Mission to re-coin the HVACR Tech to one that is closer to what we really are or striving to be… “Thermodynamic Energy Specialist” ( .. many variances are doable such as T E Refrigeration S,  T E Control S, T E Quality S, and many more!). This Trade needs to understand and be proficient in doing more than learn how to change filters. We really need an image change, and quickly.

Brian Baker: As a proud HVAC/R contractor he spent thousands of dollars attending IAQ and other conferences where attendees were told all HVAC/R were bad and nothing good was ever said about contractors.

Brian began discussing the reasoning behind HVAC register location, appliance placement, the purposeful use of tapestries and wingback chairs in medieval stone castles, how human physiology responds to heat, cold and humidity and recommended Robert Bean’s website  where we can learn more.


Brian Baker: Price muddies the water, training is about quality work and dollar value not lowest price.

Building as a system

Brian Baker: Due to niche trade specialization no one sees the obvious. The building is a system. A change to one building system effects the other building systems. The interconnection between building systems isn’t taught.  In Canada, the trades are allow a series of short courses which aren’t linked or interrelated. The trade is missing the big opportunity to see the potential to improve the building for the occupants.

RadioJoe Hughes: The performance people have gotten interested in IAQ. The Building Performance Institute and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative

have training programs.

Joe Kokinda: For some the science can be overwhelming.  We resolved a problem in a small Independently Owned supermarket which had an over-frost problem in its cases and condensed humidity dripping off glass doors every summer. The building was negatively pressurized so the moisture was being attracted to the cases which had under case return air for the HVAC System.  The situation has existed since 2003 when the Store had a remodel that included the addition of 200 0 Sq’ but did not address the HVAC Delivery System. They added more delivery without addressing the return and outside air delivery system… I believe that the Owners have suffered greatly on the energy required to have many defrost cycles added that were not required, product loss, and more over this time…. 13 YEARS.


Joe Kokinda: He’s dismayed over continued installation of HVAC/R equipment in closets and attics or ROOFS on commercial applications where it’s difficult to access for maintenance and service. It’s as if, contractors want their customers to do the dirty work The more equipment is used, the more soil and mold accumulates, causing more problems that are not being addressed by the End User due to not being made aware that their “NEW” systems are not maintenance free….

Brian Baker: Proper maintenance is a gold mine. Customers want service. They want their systems cleaned and they want to be healthy. When contractors won’t service their customers’ they risk losing them.

All homes in Canada have ERVs or HRVs. Maintenance and installation isn’t being taught. Installation is the biggest problem. Proper installation is important. Equipment should always be installed to manufacturers specs.

Closing thoughts:

Joe Kokinda: We need more collaboration by people with passion. What is passion is, it inherent or can it be learned? My take on Passion is that it is in most of us, but needs to be found by the Person, not the Teacher. The Teacher should be an enabler, not a Mind Reader. The Student decides if the Content is relevant or not and if the Student is really curious, the Student will show it by asking serious questions…. Passion….

Brian Baker: Find a way to bond the IAQ and the mechanical industries.

Z-Man signing off

Today’s Music:

Air by the 1967 cast of Hair

Trivia question:

Since 1960, 60% of all economic growth in the USA can be attributed to what invention?


Air conditioning