Photo credit: John Herr, Watts Radiant


A campaign that would raise the awareness of North American building owners and construction industry professionals about the benefits of hydronics is close to becoming a reality. While we understand that previous industry efforts have focused on homeowners and builders, we encourage the new program’s organizers also to give designers of commercial systems the attention they deserve.

The four-year-old Hydronics Industry Alliance is in the final stages of creating a partnered marketing agreement with the Radiant Panel Association. Several hydronic equipment manufacturers belong to both organizations.

We first reported on these talks in a blog posted June 11 at www.radiantandhydronics.com. Also involved in the partnering discussions is the Canadian Hydronics Council, which has created its own Beautiful Heat marketing campaign.

Until now, HIA’s primary mission has been to educate homeowners and builders on the benefits of installing hydronic systems. The group developed www.myhomeheating.com, which features individual areas for homeowners, installers, builders, and engineers and architects.

While the Web site is helpful in promoting the comfort and efficiency of hydronic systems in residences, our suggestion is for the new program’s organizers to consider changing the name of the site to make it sound more inclusive. Perhaps the new name could borrow the phrasing of the Canadians’ “Beautiful Heat.”

A visit to www.myhomeheating.com reveals useful information for designers and builders of nonresidential buildings too. Among the material is a PowerPoint presentation from Taco on how the company upgraded its own facility to achieve its green objectives.

When I interviewed Taco President John White Jr. a year ago, he called the commercial side of the business the biggest growth opportunity for his company. The reason is that the commercial market gives Taco and other companies the chance to sell systems rather than just individual products.

This systems approach only can help engineers who design commercial buildings. A more recent conversation with RPA Executive Director Ted Lowe highlighted another reason why hydronics make so much sense for commercial as well as residential buildings.

Lowe describes hydronics as an “enabling” technology. He believes that as building owners’ interest in solar and geothermal grows, they’ll discover that hydronics provides the ideal distribution system that enables these alternative technologies to perform.

As for the two traditional complaints against hydronic radiant systems in residential and some commercial applications – high cost and lack of a cooling component – Lowe sees changes in these areas as well.

Lowe believes Americans will begin to focus more on their buildings’ operating costs over the entire life of a system rather than first cost. This difference in emphasis is much more common in Europe, where hydronic systems are aided by government-mandated energy-efficiency standards.

Technology is addressing the issue of hydronics’ cooling capabilities, Lowe says. More hydronic cooling systems are being installed in North America, including the chilled ceiling in RPA’s new headquarters in Baldwinsville, N.Y.

Hydronic systems work as well or more efficiently in commercial applications as they do in single-family homes. A new marketing campaign that raises people’s awareness of the benefits of hydronic systems should include these buildings too.

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