THE U.S. Green Building Council held its annual Greenbuild Show in Philadelphia in November, featuring a number of interesting plumbing, hydronic heating and mechanical products.
Urinal manufacturers accidently stumbled onto a tie-in with Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment about Brigham Young University researching ways to minimize splash-back when using the urinal. Quipped Weekend Update Anchor Seth Meyers, “ ‘Hurry up!’ said men in khakis.” As it turned out, all of the urinal manufacturers showing products at Greenbuild have redesigned the back wall of their fixtures to minimize splash-back, much to the relief of men in khakis.
Here are a couple nuggets from Greenbuild.
A Pennsylvania firm, Therm-Omega-Tech Inc., showed a hot water system balancing valve that makes balancing a large circulated hot water system simple. Currently, the way to balance a large hot water system in a multi-family building, hotel, nursing home or similar occupancy is to manually set balancing valves, a process that might take days to get working correctly. Therm-Omega-Tech has come out with a wax diaphragm Circuit Solver valve that operates on the same principal as the thermostat in your car radiator. The plumbing contractor needs to tell Therm-Omega-Tech the pipe diameters and the target operating temperatures and the company supplies the NPT threaded valves that will do the job.
ClimateMaster showed showed its Tranquility 30 Digital (TE) unit, which joins the Tranquility 22 Digital (TZ) to create a geothermal heat pump product line integrating digital communicating controls. This is the future people. You will be communicating with your customer’s equipment.
Bradley introduced the Advocate lavatory unit, a device that seems to make so much sense that it’s tempting to ask, what took you so long? The lav includes a large-capacity soap dispenser, touchless faucet and a dual-sided hand dryer integrated into the fixture. The faucet uses just 0.38-GPM for a 24% savings over a 0.5-GPM faucet. Incorporating the hand dryer into the sink unit means the water runs down the drain instead of all over the floor.
Grand Hall, marketer of Eternal hybrid water heaters, displayed its new GU120 model, which can supply 2.6-GPM of hot water at a 90°F rise or up to 12-GPM with warmer supply temperatures. In line with its name, the GU120 has a 120,000 Btuh input. The unit is easier to retrofit than many tankless heaters because it needs only a ½-in. gas line, has top-mounted water connections and can vent with 3-in. PVC. It contains a 2-gal. reserve tank. It claims thermal efficiencies up to 96%.
How low can you go? Niagara Conservation introduced the Stealth UHET Dual Flush. The toilet has a raised green half flush at 0.5-gpf button and a larger 0.95-gpf full flush button. The toilet uses an average of just 0.65-gpf. It includes a low-friction ceramic surface and fully glazed two-inch trapway to eliminate the need for double flushing. The large water surface in the toilet helps ensure that the bowl’s surface stays clean. The product features a 10-year limited lifetime warranty and meets ADA height requirements. The Stealth technology involves a combination of air and water. After flushing, water fills the tank and air is forced to the top of the chamber, through the transfer tube and into the trapway.
I wonder about the future of the show as building for energy- and water-efficiency becomes the norm, rather than the exception. Traffic on the show floor was slow. A representative of a pump manufacturer attended one of the educational seminars and noted that seven sessions at a time were packed with 300-400 attendees each. Somehow they never migrated into the show.
A long-time colleague of mine, who’s now the publisher of a commercial building products publication, said he thinks Greenbuild may be suffering from the same problem as the American Institute of Architects show — attendees just went for the CEUs and skipped the show floor.
Indeed, if they want to see green products, contractors can see many of these same products at other shows — HVAC, hydronic heating and mechanical products at the AHR Expo and plumbing products at Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas, which combines the homebuilders’ show with the Kitchen & Bath Show.
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