Here’s what to watch for in the radiant and hydronics industries this year.
There’s no place like the annual AHR Expo to get a good sense of where things are headed in the radiant and hydronics industries. Once again this year, the Radiant Professionals Alliance AHR Education Track included presentations from RPA members (see sidebar) who are on the ground, installing cutting edge projects today.
As we get into 2018, the RPA is focusing special attention on the rollout of the 2018 Uniform Solar Energy and Hydronics Code (USEHC) and the RPA/ASSE 19210 Hydronic Heating and Cooling Installer Training and Certification Program.
We are also excited about the increasing number of contractors, HVAC engineers, manufacturer representatives, and property owners who are downloading and using the free Building Efficiency System Tool™ (besthvac.org) software provided through the Hydronics Industry Alliance’s commercial committee of the RPA. This powerful tool is designed to get hydronic solutions on the table at the earliest stages of HVAC system design.
But what about that code and that certification?
2018 UNIFORM SOLAR ENERGY AND HYDRONICS CODE
Technical Committee work is nearing completion on the newest edition of the USEHC, published on a three-year cycle by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. The new edition of the code will include a significant expansion of the sections addressing hydronics, radiant and geothermal design, and installation techniques, serving as a guide for both installers and inspection officials.
RPA/ASSE 19210 HYDRONIC HEATING AND COOLING TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION
ASSE International provides personnel certification for individuals involved in a number of professions, including cross-connection control, medical gas systems, and fire protection, for example. Last year, the RPA began offering an intensive, three-day training course to prepare experienced piping professionals for ASSE’s newest personnel certification examination for hydronic heating and cooling installers.
The intensive 24-hour course covers a variety of topics, including the operating principles and performance characteristics of hydronic and radiant products, equipment and systems, installation procedures, safety hazards, system commissioning, project documentation and recording, and other topics a professional hydronic heating and cooling system installer must know. One immediate benefit for successful examinees is a visible acknowledgment of their knowledge and proficiency in their trade, and a leg up on the competition. An enduring benefit for the industry as a whole is better installed systems, yielding maximum customer comfort and increased visibility of the value of radiant and hydronic technologies.
Leading the Way at AHR
Bill Werthman, senior technical advisor at RPA member Legend Valve, spoke on radiant cooling. He discussed the differences between wet and dry panel systems, when dry panel systems should be installed, control strategies, and combination systems.
Lance MacNevin, director of engineering with the Plastics Pipe Institute’s building and construction division, discussed state-of-the-art hydronic snow and ice melting system strategies, including best design practices and cost estimating/cost-effectiveness.
Radiant heated windows was the topic of a presentation by Mark Eatherton, chair of RPA’s technical committee. Eatherton addressed radiant windows, a technology rarely seen in the U.S. until now.
Greg Cunniff’s presentation on the recently released Building Efficiency System Tool™ was well received. Cunniff, manager of application engineering at RPA member Taco, described how BEST can bring hydronics to the table at the beginning of the building design phase.
John Siegenthaler, principal of Appropriate Designs, examined circulation in hydronic systems during his session on behalf of RPA member Caleffi North America. His dynamic presentation focused on the technical fundamentals anyone designing hydronic systems should understand and apply.
Radiant Cooling in the Windy City was the appropriately named session taught at AHR in Chicago by Max Rohr, training manager at REHAU. Rohr introduced radiant cooling as a technology for reducing operating costs and lowering carbon footprints while increasing occupant comfort in commercial applications.
Finally, Devin Abellon, business development manager at RPA member Uponor, and Michael Matzura, a national business manager over radiant at Zehnder Rittling, spoke on high-mass versus low-mass radiant solutions, exploring the benefits and challenges associated with each strategy.
Les Nelson is vice president of the Radiant Professionals Alliance and Advanced Energy Programs. He is director and treasurer of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners in New York and past president and past executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. Nelson served for 17 years as a director of the Washington, DC–based Solar Energy Industries Association and is vice-chair of the Global Solar Certification Network.