ORLANDO, Fla. — The 2012 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show (IBS), though downsized considerably from the glory days of new home construction, can still make a local home and garden spring show look like really small potatoes. According to show staff, the Orange County Convention Center hosted more than 51,000 builders, remodelers, and other members of the home building industry during the four-day event, Feb. 8-11, 2012.

The 2012 IBS featured exhibits from more than 900 suppliers, and provided more than 165 educational sessions on building industry topics. Approximately 50 exhibitors from the HVAC industry displayed their wares. Traffic was brisk for at least the first two days of the show, as builders seemed most interested in high-efficiency HVAC appliances. Many builders were looking for a “green edge,” as noted by a father-and-son duo who split their time building custom homes in New Jersey and Texas. The son noted that working in Austin, Texas, absolutely requires a green complement of products in a new home.

Products at the Show

Some of the products at the show featured advances in residential HVAC equipment. One such product was the Lennox icomfort®, “a home thermostat that lets you do pretty much anything from pretty much anywhere,” according to Bobby DiFulgentiz, director of product management, control products at Lennox. He said features such as cloud connectivity via icomfort WiFi™ allow homeowners to monitor and adjust the temperature in their homes from anywhere in the world with any smart phone, tablet, or other web-enabled device.

Broan displayed its new LoProfile™ fan as a solution for installations where conventional ventilation will not fit, especially suited for multifamily applications. According to the company, the LoProfile is narrow enough to be installed in a wall between 2-by-4-inch studs. The oval connector accepts standard 4- or 3-inch duct with a supplied adaptor. The fan provides up to 80 cfm, and as low as 1.1 sones for quiet operation.

Messana Air-Ray Conditioning, a first-time exhibitor at IBS, displayed a heating and cooling product that installs directly to the ceiling framing in much the same way as traditional drywall. The Ray Magic panel combines a thin layer of gypsum board with 8-millimeter radiant tubing, and 4-millimeter aluminum heat transfer plates. According to the company, tubing connections are quick and easy, and as many as eight panels can be connected in series to a manifold branch circuit.

Show Time

Signs of optimism for the industry’s recovery were apparent among attendees, but Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who spoke to a special general session on Friday, discussed how restraints on credit for home buyers and home builders alike continue to impede the housing and economic recovery.
According to NAHB press coverage of Bernanke’s speech, he noted that many local markets have an overhang of empty and foreclosed homes, the current lending environment is harsh, and the weak housing market is impairing the financial health of homeowners. Bernanke said that the “state of the housing market has been a key impediment to a faster recovery.”

He continued, “For these reasons, and because the troubled housing market depresses construction activity and employment, we need to continue to develop and implement policies that will help the housing sector get back on its feet. No single solution will be sufficient. But sustained efforts to address the many interlocking factors holding back the housing market will pay dividends in the long run.”

Bernanke also added that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac limits on investor loans are counterproductive in the current economic climate and that the policy should be to encourage more loans to help ease the inventory of distressed properties.

Other highlights of the show included The New American Home 2012, NAHB’s official show home, and the IBS Opening Ceremonies featuring world-famous magicians Penn & Teller as keynote speakers, and Aron Ralston, whose inspiring story of bravery was made famous in the acclaimed movie “127 Hours.”

The next International Builders’ Show takes place Jan. 22-24, 2013, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Registration for the 2013 show will open on Sept. 1. Details will be available at www.buildersshow.com.

Publication date: 4/16/2012