BY BOB MIODONSKI
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
ARLINGTON, VA. — Heating equipment manufacturers in August announced the formation of the Hydronics Industry Alliance, whose mission is to provide accurate and up-to-date information to builders, contractors and consumers.
The alliance is a coalition of 22 members of the Hydronics Institute Division of the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association. It is separate, however, from both the HI Division and GAMA, said alliance Chairman Richard Simons, who is director/residential combustion controls for Honeywell International.
"We have a common set of members and share some support services, but it's a separate entity," Simons told CONTRACTOR.
The companies have joined together to increase industry and consumer awareness of the latest technological advances in hydronic heating, he said. Asked if the industry has done a poor job of communicating the benefits of hydronics, Simons called it a difficult task.
"I think it could be doing a better job," he said. "We're better at it with contractors and OEMs. It gets harder when you get to architects and homeowners."
The alliance has hired a public relations agency, and a new Website will be launched by year's end under the name of myhomeheating.com. The Website will include basic educational information about hydronic heating for homeowners, architects/engineers, building and heating contractors along with a list of alliance members with links to each manufacturer's Website. In addition, the site will include up-to-date information on the benefits and many of the applications of hydronic heating, case studies, announcements of trade show participation, details on I=B=R schools for training on hydronic equipment installation, and tips on new profit opportunities for builders, contractors and remodelers.
Besides marketing hydronics through the Website, Simons said the alliance would be represented at a number of different regional shows and architectural shows where hydronics hasn't had a presence in the past. The alliance also plans to work with groups interested in energy-efficient homes and other associations that influence housing at the architect and builder level.
"We hope to work with Habitat for Humanity," Simons said. "We have a real good possibility there."
The alliance will take a collaborative approach in working with other trade associations, he said. For example, Simons plans to meet with Larry Drake, executive director of the Radiant Panel Association, during the upcoming ISH North America show in Chicago.
"I don't know what our relation-ship with RPA will be other than collaboration," Simons said. "We share common goals but we come at them from different angles."
The alliance members are all manufacturers, he noted, while RPA's membership is weighted toward contractors, although manufacturers and wholesalers belong to RPA too. The alliance could eventually have non-manufacturers as members, Simons said.
"We need to get it started with manufacturers," he said. "Once we get it off the ground, I think that we will look at adding other members."
Drake declined to comment on how RPA will work with the alliance until after he gets the chance to meet with Simons.
The RPA was formed in 1994 with a similar mission — to spread the word about hydronic radiant heating as well as other forms of radiant technology, such as electric floor, wall and ceiling heat. Founders of the group said they also wanted to develop standards for the radiant industry and to certify designers and installers.
Interestingly, all three founders were manufacturers that were actively involved at the time with the Hydronics Institute, particularly HI's Radiant Heating Division, before HI became a division of GAMA.
"Based on the increasing interest in radiant heating, however, the three companies believed the time was right for being more than just part of a trade group," CONTRACTOR reported in a front-page story in July 1994.
Information from the new Hydronics Industry Alliance cites the still rising interest in radiant floor heat, which "popularized on television and increasingly promoted by contractors... is acknowledged as an efficient and economical form of home heating."
"However, when homeowners ask about radiant floor heating or other forms of hydronic heating, many builders and contractors feel they need more knowledge and under-standing of these hydronic heating options," the alliance's press release states. "To satisfy this demand for accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information, hydronic heating equipment manufacturers have announced the formation of the Hydronics Industry Alliance."
Besides radiant floor heating, the announcement mentions other forms of hydronic heating, such as finned tube baseboard and kick space heaters.
The alliance will measure its success, Simons said, by using industry and government statistics, such as boiler shipments and Census data.
"There's no perfect way to measure it," he said.
The alliance members are: Burnham Hydronics/Crown Boiler Co.; Carlin Combustion Technology; ECR International; Effikal International; Grundfos Pumps Corp.; Haydon Corp.; Honeywell International; Hydro-Air Components; Hydrolevel Co.; Laars Heating Systems Co.; Lochinvar Corp.; Mestek; Midco International; PB Heat; Potter Electric Signal Co.; Riello Burners; R.W. Beckett Corp.; Slant/Fin Corp.; Taco; Triangle Tube/Phase III; Watts Regulator Co.; and Weil-McLain.