ORLANDO, Fla. - The 2007 International Builders’ Show (IBS) was billed as a “show of enormous opportunities.” For the 100,000-plus people who ventured through the doors of the Orlando Orange County Convention Center, it certainly lived up to that prediction.
More than 70 companies were listed under Air Conditioning, Heating & Ventilating Equipment in the official exhibit guide, in addition to companies participating as sponsors of six different model homes on or near the site. Orlando was definitely the place for them to be seen by buying customers. Each year, the exhibitor list expands the HVAC category. More than 1,800 companies in total exhibited at IBS.
The show was not open to the local public, although it would have attracted thousands more people if it were. The Builders’ Show is without a doubt the grandest of all conceivable springtime home and garden shows. If the mind can imagine a need for a home, the solution will probably be found in the aisles.
Home builders from around the world showed up in force to kick the tires. Many HVAC booths were packed from start to finish.
When asked why he was cruising the Daikin(www.daikinac.com) booth, one residential home builder from North Carolina said he is always looking for new ways to differentiate himself from other builders. “Traffic has been very good,” said Russell Tavolacci, director of marketing for Daikin. “People ask good questions and seem to be most interested in space-saving appliances.” Space is often at a premium with new construction. Builders seemed intrigued by the prospect of mounting units on the wall, thus freeing up valuable floor space, Tavolacci said.
Dick Foster, president ofZoneFirst(www.zonefirst.com), said he has exhibited at IBS since about 1989 because he is trying to get builders interested in HVAC. “I am there trying to get the message out because, too often, it’s not being done otherwise. Builders don’t think HVAC is important because most HVAC contractors don’t make it important enough to them. Frankly, contractors can’t take on the entire burden of educating the builder community, so it’s up to manufacturers to help.”
In addition to the efforts of Foster and the many other HVAC companies present at the Builders’ Show, events such as the 13 SEER transition have opened the door for higher-priced systems. Builders are beginning to open up to the prospect of purchasing nontraditional solutions such as ductless air conditioners and heat pumps or zoning systems.
SEEN ON THE FLOORDuring the four-day exhibit, builders saw a number of new items from HVAC manufacturers. Here are a few that caught the attention of the attendees.
TheBroanSmartSense Intelligent Ventilation System (www.broan.com) is an energy-efficient solution to meet the intermittent and continuous ventilation requirements of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.2. The SmartSense technology, combined with the company’s UltraSilent fans, create an integrated ventilation system in the home. Individual fans that once worked independently can now work together to ensure fresh air throughout the day.
Essentially, one fan operates as the master and the other fans are slaves that are connected wirelessly. The fans are capable of adjusting the air delivery based upon the activity of all fans in the system.
Emerson Climate Technologies(www.emersonclimatecontractor.com) displayed its Ultra-Tech™ communicating system, which autoconfigures and checks system settings. The system also has the capability, with onboard Comfort Alert diagnostics, to signal an alert on the thermostat for the owner to call for service. The system also provides active protection from severe system faults that may damage a compressor.
Rheem Manufacturing(www.rheemac.com), Broan-Nutone,Carrier Corp.(www.carrier.com),Lennox Industries(www.lennox.com),Rinnai Corp.(www.rinnai.us), andHoneywell(www.honeywell.com) were among the companies participating in the model homes. The NextGen™ Home saw steady traffic throughout the show as people lined up to tour the futuristic domicile.
ThePropane Council(www.propanecouncil.org) kept a steady presence at the American Gas Association (www.aga.org) booth, touting centralized distribution systems as a trend that is catching on, especially as developers continue to move further away from the reach of natural gas lines. Additionally, a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) finds that outdoor rooms and standby generators are the top drivers for builder interest in underground tanks.
The UniChiller RC™ fromUnico Inc.(www.unicosystem.com), provides both hot and cold water for winter heating and summer cooling requirements. The company said the chiller can be located at remote distances from the conditioned structure, allowing valuable space to be used for other purposes.
Next year’s IBS will be held in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 13-16, 2008. For more information, visit www.buildersshow.com.