The coolest job in the world: Why our CEO co-founded an HVAC company
People who study mechanical engineering can apply their knowledge to a plethora of tantalizing tech, from powerful drones to sporty electric cars.
So naturally our CEO, Vince Romanin — who spent his childhood in Ohio tinkering with motorcycle engines and model rockets — fell in love with… [record scratch] HVAC?
A baby HVAC fanatic. Source: Vince's mom.
That’s right. Our CEO is an HVAC fanatic. A self-described thermo-nerd.
And it doesn’t take much to get him to explain why.
A matter of public health
“Air conditioning, since it began widespread adoption around the U.S. in the mid-20th century,” Vince says, “is responsible for about a 70-percent reduction in heat wave deaths.”
Air comfort and quality affect our health and productivity. For example, many of our cities are built in areas that aren’t livable without air conditioning (like Phoenix, Arizona, where the average high temperature in July is 106°F).
Phoenix, Arizona. Source: MarkSkalny for Canva Pro.
“So in a lot of places,” Vince says, “it’s a matter of health, productivity, and development to have the types of devices that can make buildings livable in climates that aren’t so livable.”
But there’s one big problem.
Air conditioners make the world hotter
The same systems we use to make our homes comfortable are making the rest of the world less comfortable and less livable.
In fact, heating and cooling systems emit more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation sector. That’s partly because most refrigerants in our ACs have orders of magnitude greater capacities to warm the atmosphere than CO2 does.
And by 2050, we’ll need 250% more ACs than we do today.
More comfortable buildings and a cooler world
Vince searched for folks working to decarbonize the buildings sector. But he encountered slow progress.
And after earning a PhD in Mechanical Engineering/Heat Transfer from the University of California, Berkeley, he felt an even stronger desire to give air conditioning a better environmental track record. One that lets us have it all: comfortable buildings and a cooler world.
From that desire, Gradient was born in 2017.
From concept to reality
Vince and a small team came up with the idea for the Gradient at Otherlab, a private research and development lab.
For years they built prototypes, listened to customers, ran analytical models, and secured more than $9 million in non-dilutive grants and more than $13 million in venture funding.
The early Gradient team.
Since then, the team has expanded into a group of thermal scientists and designers rethinking traditional heating and cooling systems. Our goal to drive change fast enough to have an impact.
Through products that provide a better experience for you while making your space more comfortable.
We’re here so you can enjoy air that’s not too dry, not too sticky and always just right. All of us want to stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter and well rested and productive year-round. Now, more of us can do that without harming the planet.
Cheers to a cooler world.