As I See It

Want to save customers energy and water? Training is available all over

I’ve been thinking about all of the green training that’s available lately, mostly because we’re getting into the meeting, conference and show season in the fall. We are, of course, going to follow up on the great work that Senior Editor Candace Roulo did last fall in our supplement to CONTRACTOR, Green Mechanical Contractor, with our green training guide. In fact, that guide will be expanded to include all sorts of training opportunities, not just of the green nature. Look for that, in print and in digital format, in the fourth quarter.

Come to think of it, much of the training available from plumbing and mechanical industry manufacturers is green by default. Firms such as Taco, Viega, and Uponor have all built or remodeled their training centers in the past few years. Bell & Gossett parent Xylem has been teaching classes at the Little Red Schoolhouse for six decades. And what are these manufacturers, not to mention associations such as the Radiant Professionals Alliance, teaching? Energy savings. Water savings. ECM circulators. Radiant floor heat. It goes beyond old-style product training when you’re talking about condensing boilers or solar or geothermal. Those products are green by definition.

If you want to get the straight dope on energy and water conservation in the coming months, there are plenty of opportunities.

First, I have to begin with our own show, Comfortech, which just wrapped up at the new Philadelphia Convention Center. Comfortech 2013 brought together the owners and managers of residential and commercial HVACR and hydronics/plumbing contracting firms to sharpen their skills, re-energize their businesses, preview and demo the latest products, and arm themselves with the critical knowledge they need to stay competitive in the mechanical systems marketplace. 

Education was a crucial part of that (as it will be in 2014 at Comfortech in Nashville). Featuring four continuing education units-certified educational tracks — Business Management, Sales and Marketing, Service Management and Technical — Comfortech sessions featured some of the most well-known speakers in the mechanical systems industry, including international best-selling author of Freedom from Fear, Mark Matteson, customer service expert Steve Coscia of Coscia Communications, Service Roundtable CEO Matt Michel, and many more.

Candace reported in the June issue of CONTRACTOR that in less than two years, new water heater energy efficiency standards will be in effect, starting in April 2015. The differences will be significant. For example, all large electric water heaters will have to be heat pump water heaters. They won’t fit in your full-size van and they can’t be transported lying down. Bradford White Corp., a Comfortech sponsor, offered one of its product engineers to lead a seminar at Comfortech explaining the ramifications of the new rules for contractors.

Next up is the WaterSmart Innovations conference and show in Las Vegas in early October. I like that event because it’s full of water geeks like me from the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials, Alliance for Water Efficiency, Sloan Valve Co., and all of the engineers and consultants that go to all of the same code meetings that I do.

The keynoter for WSI is, appropriately enough, Kim Marotta, director of sustainability at MillerCoors. Brewers use bodacious amounts of water. My favorite green author, Jerry Yudelson, pointed out in one of his books that South African Breweries, parent of SAB/Miller, uses huge amounts of water to brew Carling because the hops and every other ingredient need a lot of irrigation.

Like Comfortech, Greenbuild will be in the Philadelphia Convention Center starting on Nov. 20. Greenbuild has been a good show for green mechanical contractors the last few years as its focus has turned to real companies offering real building solutions beyond recycled milk jugs. Product categories at the show include building automation and controls, BIM, HVAC systems, plumbing (Kohler and Sloan always have a big presence), renewable energy, and water systems and water treatment.

I love this stuff. That’s why I’m in the industry. If you love it like I do, you owe it to yourself to go to the seminars and see all of the new products available.

Follow me on Twitter @bobmader


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