It’s not smart leaving money on the table

New certification could open doors to connected and smart tech projects

By Carolyn Cooper

 The new ISO-Accredited Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) certification from CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association) has the potential to open up additional business opportunities for Canadian HVAC/R techs, plumbers and mechanical contractors.

The globally-recognized certification is a foundational credential, explains David Whitney, senior director of certification for CEDIA, the international trade association for companies designing, manufacturing and integrating technology in the home. “It verifies that an individual is ready to send to job sites to work under supervision to complete initial low-voltage infrastructure installation/first fix activities.”

Whitney says that to compete for luxury business across categories “mechanical contractors either need to partner with or become experts in the installation of low-voltage infrastructure. Getting your own technicians certified will help prepare your business to take on more projects involving connected or smart components. Mastering the exam domains will also help you assess potential technology integration partners for more complex projects.”

Because of the technology involved in these projects, “many contractors express reluctance to take on smart projects or integrate connected products into their portfolios because they don’t fully understand or trust them,” he says. “They are leaving money on the table.” However, at the same time, “Mechanical contractors shouldn’t walk into connected projects blind – there is a whole new knowledge domain to master here – but neither should they pass on a burgeoning opportunity.”

With CIT accreditation, contractors will be able to work on low-voltage systems such as smart thermostats, smart appliances, water and air quality monitors, and smart bathroom fixtures.

“Homes are getting smarter,” notes Whitney. “Especially in the luxury and upscale markets, but increasingly in luxury multi-dwelling unit and commercial real estate properties as well, customers expect mechanical systems to come equipped with smart features and to integrate with broader building-wide technology systems for data collection, automation, and control.”

In its new Integrated Home Market Analysis report, conducted in partnership with Ancrage Consulting LLC, CEDIA estimates that the home technology market is now worth $20.1 billion. While categories such as lighting and whole home controls are seeing the most increase, demand for security systems, energy/climate management, and HVAC controls are growing. Another category just emerging is irrigation controls.

The CIT certification is recognized worldwide under the ISO/IEC 17024 certification program requirements standard, and since launching in January 2021, 181 people have earned their CIT certification, including two Canadians. According to CEDIA, five per cent of CIT applicants work in a field outside of custom technology integration, such as mechanical contracting, electrical contracting, or construction.

“The larger design-build community is only now beginning to recognize the potential of connected systems to transform their industries,” adds Whitney, “so building a CIT-certified workforce now is a great step toward leading in your field.”