This is the first in a series of articles on the new Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA), an organization worth belonging to. As many people are hopefully aware of by now, the RPA underwent some serious changes in its recent history. Unfortunately, the old RPA fell upon hard times, as did its members. Membership fell off, member participation waned at the annual conference, and vendors who attended these annual meetings were left with a bad taste and found themselves at trade shows with more vendors in attendance than participants.

Not a good scenario that is conducive to any trade organization. The organization was faced with a financial situation that was dire, with debt accumulating faster than cash. Again, not a good scenario that is conducive to a good trade organization. It pretty much echoed what the member companies were seeing as well. A recession has roots that reach real deep. From the largest companies to the smallest companies, the pinch of the recession was felt in everyone’s wallet/purse. The RPA was going to have to make some serious decisions, the most prevalent being to file for bankruptcy. This is not a decision that is taken lightly by any organization, regardless of whether they are a for-profit organization, or a not-for-profit organization.

People can point the fingers of blame in any direction they want, but once reality sets in, tough decisions have to be made. The decision was made to attempt to sell the assets of the RPA to a larger non-profit organization in an attempt to keep the educational momentum going forward. Negotiations were started with different non-profit organizations to take over the assets of the RPA and reorganize the operations in an effort to continue moving the educational efforts forward. Enter the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials organization. (IAPMO)

IAPMO is the organization responsible for the production and updating of the Uniform Plumbing Code, as well as the Uniform Mechanical Code. These codes are developed through a consensus standards development process approved by the American National Standards Institute and have wide spread use by jurisdictions throughout the United States and internationally. IAPMO is also developing a Uniform Solar Energy Hydronics Code. This code will embody the work of what is currently the Uniform Solar Energy Code, and will incorporate the recommendations of the stakeholder and affected industries pertaining to hydronic solar thermal, hydronic radiant heating and cooling systems and geothermal heating and cooling systems. The goal is to develop a comprehensive code governing the installation, maintenance and repair of solar thermal systems, basic hydronic radiant heating and cooling systems, and geothermal heating and cooling systems which is critical to achieve further expansion of the industry. The code will serve as a dependable basis for industry education and certification.

Hence, the relationship between the RPA and the IAPMO organization. The RPA has always been in the education business, educating not only contractors, but pretty much anyone involved in the delivery of comfort using radiant energy transfer, regardless of whether the source is hydronic or electric. And that laser sharp focus on education hasn’t changed.

The organization is even more dedicated to this focus with the intent of providing the basic membership with many educational opportunities utilizing an on line teaching forum. The organization understands the memberships need to keep people busy during working hours, and these training sessions will be archived for later retrieval by the members at a later date for learning purposes. If you are in attendance during the actual presentation, and have a question regarding the presentation, those questions can be asked, and will be answered by the presenter in real time. If a question comes up after the presentation, the presenters e-mail address will be listed for getting questions answered after the fact.

In addition to member education efforts, it is also a goal of the organization to update and refresh the member installation/designer certification programs. The certification program will be done under the supervision of the ISO standards organization which allows for revocation of certification if the certificate holder is found to be incompetent. It is also the goal of the organization to require members to obtain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in order to refresh and retain their design/installation certifications. The RPA will develop a list of approved CEU training opportunities that will be provided by other members of the RPA who also provide online training courses for the contractors in the field, as well as the designers in the office.

Tune in next month as we continue to take a hard look at the “new” Radiant Professionals Alliance, a division of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. Until then, happy holiday hydronicing.

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