IAPMO Senior Director
A Mechanical System Odyssey
Science fiction has a lot of devotees, two of my grandsons among them. So, naturally, when I am with them I do spend some time watching the shows with them. A particular fascination with them is the possibility of time travel, seeing the way things used to be and getting a glimpse of what the future holds for us.
A short while after watching such a movie with my two youngest grandsons, the thought occurred to me that the hydronics industry and specifically the radiant portion of the industry are undergoing a similar odyssey of their very own at this time. Looking back, it was not so long ago that nearly every home or business that needed heat met its needs with boilers and radiators or radiant panels of one kind or another. The systems worked well, very well, in fact. Then along came forced air furnaces and refrigeration systems that could be packaged together economically, particularly for the milder climates, and the industry began to place its emphasis on the rapidly expanding forced air markets — and what a market it proved to be over the next five decades.
Technicians and contractors were finding very little need for education and staying current in hydronic systems. Their work and businesses were totally immersed in the forced air heating and cooling of the day. Many assumed that hydronic systems would soon die out, but they did not; their many benefits were still applicable, particularly in the colder climates of the North, and the manufacturers continued to make technological advances with the equipment.
Now, with the awareness and emphasis on green sustainable systems, energy becoming a greater factor than ever before, and consumers’ desire not to settle for less, but to receive the most luxury and service for their dollars, radiant and hydronic systems are now experiencing a resurgence — a resurgence that is in its infancy, just beginning a new cycle. The manufacturers are introducing new technologies, including cooling to accompany the proven heating systems. Suddenly a few plumbing or heating-cooling contractors who have no or very limited experience in radiant systems are beginning to become interested in offering this new technology to their customers as an upgrade. I think they will find a viable and growing market.
As exciting as it is to watch this new version of the market develop and unfold, it gets way better if you want to participate in the experience. There could be a place for you in the time machine into the future!
But to take that ride, to have that experience, you need to participate. I urge you to do so. How do you get involved? There are many roads open to you now.
The brand new Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA) Website, www.RadiantProfessionalsAlliance.org, contains myriad training opportunities. Everything from quarterly Webinars on current and pertinent topics in which you can participate right from your office or home, to learning online at your convenience or on-site at seminars in convenient locations, and industry events across the country.
Historically, RPA has maintained the best library of publications related to hydronics in the United States. They are looking forward to maintaining this leadership role, and all those publications are on the new Website, waiting for your review. It gets even better in that the RPA Board and staff have embarked on a review of the entire library, creating new materials where needed and updating current manuals as necessary.
If you have a little time and expertise to devote to the RPA and the hydronics industry, you might be able to obtain an express ride to the future in that time machine. In fact, you can help create the future! Right now, the RPA is encouraging people from every facet of the industry to apply for appointment to one of seven committees in their area of interest. These RPA committees are:
1. Education Committee: Responsible for helping the RPA meet the professional development needs of its members. Responsible for organizing and presenting the education activities conducted at the RPA’s annual membership meeting.
2. Membership Committee: Responsible for identifying the needs of the members and communicating the needs as goals and objectives. Participates in recruitment and retention programs to increase and maintain RPA membership. Conducts the annual awards programs such as the Annual Showcase Awards.
3. Hydronics Industry Alliance Committee: Responsible for identifying special needs of the manufacturers of the hydronic industry based on driving forces affecting the industry. Charged with devising a strategic mission and setting tactical goals to increase the hydronic market share through promotion of the industry as a viable heating and cooling solution.
4. Technical Committee: Ensures that all technical information the RPA publishes or presents as an authoritative source is accurate, exact, complete, consistent, current, relevant, and represents the position of the RPA.
5. Codes and Standards Committee: Monitors, influences and keeps members abreast of applicable codes and standards to ensure that the best criteria for a product, process, test, or procedure is realized. Informs the RPA members of any action or activity that may impact the industry.
6. Nominating Committee: Nominates persons for election as officers from nominations received from the membership.
7. Government Relations Committee: Monitors and keeps the membership abreast of local, state, and national regulatory and legislative activities.
To apply for one of these exciting and active committees, or to obtain more information, send an email to RPA Executive Director Kathleen Mihelich, RPA@RadiantProfessionalsAlliance.Org; fax 708-479-6023; telephone the RPA office toll free at 877-427-6601 or send it via U.S. MAIL: RPA, 18927 Hickory Creek Drive, Suite 140, Mokena, IL 60448.
There are many, many more exciting things happening within RPA, and they will be included in future columns, but I have to conclude with really exciting news!
The RPA Annual Business Meeting and Educational Symposium will be held in Schaumburg, Ill. (a suburb of Chicago), on Sept. 19-21. The first day will be devoted solely to the RPA, and then on the second and third days there will be education provided throughout both days held in conjunction with Mechanical Systems Week 2012, the national HVACR, Hydronics & Plumbing Seminar and Product Showcase! This is an event you will not want to miss. I urge you to mark your calendar now. You can register online for both the RPA meeting and for Mechanical Systems Week or you can register by calling the RPA office at the number shown above.
It is a very exciting time to be a part of the hydronic radiant industry. You can be a big part of the future; all you have to do is participate. The RPA wants you. Take action now.