How the Internet of Things is turning HVAC into an operating system – with Nicholas Lea of Nortec


I know what you are thinking, what does the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry have to do with the Internet of Things? I had my trepidations heading into this episode as well. Because, really, what can a bunch of guys who balance temperature teach me about mobile and IoT. Right?

Turns out, they aren’t as far back in the dark ages as I thought…In fact, they have been waiting for the technology to emerge and become affordable for quite some time.

Meet Nick Lea, Global Product Manager at Nortec Humidity, they build the equipment that helps us stay cool or warm and healthy. His is a grand vision of what was once a simple industry. As he says, they’ve just about done everything they can to control our environment from an efficiency standpoint, and now they are looking at what’s next. That’s what this conversation is about. When you think of all the plumbing and infrastructure that goes into homes and building that are equipped with a current and access to a network, the world of HVAC, mixed with a little IoT, becomes VERY interesting.



Key takeaways from this episode. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. What is Nortec 1:54
2. How does HVAC play in the Internet of Things 3:25
3. How did Nortec move into the IoT world 6:00
4. What was the catalyst in the industry to allow Nortec to afford to be in this space? 11:25
5. What’s different today than the technology Nortec built in the early 2000’s? 16:00
6. Do the tenants care about IoT in HVAC? 20:00
7. Is anyone asking for IoT in HVAC? 21:00
8. Who pays for this? 21:44
9. What was the first step to get beyond monitoring? 23:40
10. How does all this benefit the building/client? 27:40
11. How do you ensure that the tech lasts for the lifetime of the product? 29:50
12. Is this the beginning of HVAC as a Service? 32:00
13. Is the business model for HVAC shifting as a result of IoT? 34:00
14. HVAC OS? 36:00
15. What are the challenges you are facing right now? 39:50
16. How does big data contribute to the industry? 45:30
17. Where are new revenue opportunities? 46:30
18. Where does the technology evolve to in the HVAC world? 48:40


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About Nicholas Lea
Nicholas Lea NortecNicholas Lea, is the Global Product Manager at Nortec Humidity in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a graduate from Carleton University, and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering. As well, he is a licensed Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario and a LEED accredited professional, with specialization in building design and construction (LEED AP BD+C).

Nick is responsible for the global strategy and performance of several humidification product lines for Nortec, including software tools and Nortec OnLine remote monitoring solutions. After a few years in the humidification industry, Nick quickly gained a reputation as a humidification expert with a motivating forward momentum to “get things done”. He has a proven track record of launching successful products, and creating engaging training programs for his industry peers. Nick’s dedication to the HVAC industry in evident through his involvement with ASHRAE where his a member on the Humidification and Evaporative Cooling technical committees.

About Rick McMullin
Rick McMullin bitHeadsRick is the CTO and co-founder of bitHeads, inc., a successful custom software development company that has effectively delivered over 500 projects to many of the Fortune 1000. Rick has deep domain expertise in the architecture and development of large-scale server, middleware, and cloud platforms for game, mobile and enterprise applications. He has been instrumental in architecting scalable cloud solutions for some of the most popular games on the internet such as the Simpsons Tapped Out, designed online real money casinos and constructed Canada Post’s point of sale system which is deployed in 7,500 outlets in Canada. Prior to co-founding bitHeads, Rick worked as a software architect for Bell-Northern Research’s Generic Services Framework project, the largest object-oriented project in the world at the time.
With the rapid emergence of the Internet of Things, Rick has been spearheading multiple IoT enabled projects in the manufacturing, food and beverage and health sectors. Furthermore, he has spent the past two years constructing proprietary platforms for enabling the deployment of new and complex IoT and M2M applications.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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