GreenBuild show settles down to business

This year's GreenBuild show in Boston seemed a bit more business-like than last year's version in Chicago. Perhaps it was the recession forcing attendees to focus on the practical.

This year's GreenBuild show in Boston seemed a bit more business-like than last year's version in Chicago. Perhaps it was the recession forcing attendees to focus on the practical. A colleague described last year's crowd as “crunchy,” in the Granola sense. This year's crowd seemed to have fewer followers of Phish and more followers of Adam Smith.

The show had advanced registrations of about 25,000 people, a bit more than last year. It seemed like fewer than that showed up; perhaps it was because the exhibit hall space in Boston was larger than Chicago's. Or perhaps the financial crisis caused some attendees to cancel their plans. Nevertheless, the exhibitors all seemed to be pleased with the quality and quantity of attendees with whom they met.

And we enjoyed our meetings with them too. Many of the products are outstanding.

Kohler Co., for example, showed a “touchless” actuator for commercial faucets, toilets and urinals that can eliminate phantom flushes. The faucet actuator can “learn” its environment — such as bright light or low light — to eliminate false actuations.

Although it's not a new, new product, Caroma, which invented the concept of dual-flush toilets for drought-stricken Australia, displayed its 1-pint/flush urinal that's activated by the user's “liquid” so that it can't be falsely activated by a bad sensor.

Delta Faucet displayed a new Water-Efficient Showerhead with H2Okinetic Technology that uses only 1.5-GPM. The company also highlighted the ongoing expansion of its line of faucets that use Diamond-Seal technology for the ceramic cartridge and lead-free waterways that comply with California's A.B.1953 law that bans faucets with lead-containing brass waterways.

The good folks at Zurn showed their new generation EcoVantage ultra-low consumption urinals. The products are available in sensor battery or hardwired options and in both exposed and concealed actuator versions. One urinal, the Z5708, is teardrop-shaped and might appeal to designers who want something other than the same-old rectangular urinal.

T&S Brass showed off its water-saving and energy-saving commercial kitchen low-flow pre-rinse spray valves. T&S also showed a handy sales tool for contractors, a cardboard slide-chart Conservation Savings Calculator. Contractors can use the slide-chart to show restaurant operators how much water and money they can save. T&S also points out that it uses 98%-99% recycled metal, recycles all its brass chips and buffing/polishing dust, eliminated all VOC and ozone-depleting chemicals, converted all its machines to use semi-synthetic coolant, lights its facilities with high-efficiency light bulbs, and ships on reusable plastic pallets.

Lochinvar Corp. introduced the GreenBuild crowd to a host of new products, including the Shield commercial water heater, with inputs up to 500,000 Btuh, 96% thermal efficiency and storage up to 125 gal. The unit features sealed combustion and a 5:1 turndown. The firm also showed the new Sync Condensing Boiler with an advanced Smart Touch touchscreen control system. The Sync boiler combines a stainless steel heat exchanger with modulating/condensing combustion to deliver efficiency as high as 98%. The models produce 1.0, 1.3 and 1.5 million Btuh inputs, and feature low NOx operation and 10:1 turndown.

Who gets the nod?

In next month's issue, look for our Contractor of the Year coverage. All of the contractors that we've considered for the award have been heavily involved in green and sustainable construction. The final three under consideration include Climate Heating & Cooling, Pittsfield, Mass., the geothermal specialists who were featured in the cover story to our new, successful supplement, Green Mechanical Contractor. Then there's L.J. Kruse Co., Berkeley, Calif., the century-old family firm headed by Dave Kruse, past president of Mechanical Contractors Association of America and one of the industry's guiding lights on green contracting. Finally, there's W.E. Bowers, Beltsville, Md., the first Mechanical Service Contractors Association Green Star certified contractor. W.E. Bowers is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and has been heavily involved in LEED projects in the D.C. area. Our selection will be revealed in our pages next month.