Welcome to our second annual State of the Industry Issue.

This time, rather than provide a view from 30,000 feet, we thought it would be more informative to cover three issues facing the industry today in a up-close format.

Two of these articles involve the Internet — how brick-and-mortar retailers are faring against online competitors as well as an examination of Yelp, Angie’s List and other consumer review sites.

But it’s the third piece, starting on page 27, that really caught my interest. On the surface, the topic of an Energy Star rating for pool pumps is an exciting, but limited, topic. The fact that the rating now exists is really cool, but other than that, what is there to say?

As it turns out, there’s plenty. Until reading this piece, it had never occurred to me to wonder exactly what went into these ratings. If asked, I would have guessed — correctly — that every pump model had to undergo testing and the ones that passed a certain benchmark received the rating. While all of that is true, I learned from reading Rebecca Robledo’s excellent piece that a number of other factors help create the Energy Star program, all of them quite interesting. For example, I had no idea that the designation is only available to whole products rather than component parts. This has led to discussion regarding whether motors can apply. It also underscores the importance of education for installers because the pump’s performance is partially dependent on pipe diameter and how the unit is programmed.

Maybe I’m a total geek, but I find those issues thought-provoking.

So I suggest you take a few minutes to read this informative article. At the very least, you’ll be able to amaze your colleagues and bore your family with an in-depth rendition of how Energy Star actually works.