CHARLOTTE, N.C. & SAN FRANCISCO — The biennial American Society of Plumbing Engineers Engineered Plumbing Exposition and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild are not big venues for new plumbing, mechanical and HVAC product introductions. Those are typically reserved for events such as the AHR Expo. A number of industry manufacturers, nevertheless, displayed some interesting products.

Energy, water and schools at Greenbuild

At Greenbuild, ClimateMaster introduced its new Trilogy 40 series, the first series of geothermal heat pumps certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute to exceed 40 EER at ground-loop conditions. The Trilogy 40 uses variable-speed technology to provide a wide range of heating and cooling capacities, with the ability to match loads to as low as 30% of maximum. In addition, patent-pending Q-Mode technology produces year-round domestic hot water on demand, even when space conditioning is not required. The Trilogy 40 Q-Mode series is the outcome of a five-year collaboration between ClimateMaster and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Program. Based on field tests and analysis by ORNL, the Trilogy 40 Q-Mode can save 55%-65% of annual energy use and cost for space conditioning and water heating in residential applications versus new minimum efficiency (SEER 13) conventional systems, and 30%-35% versus current state-of-the-art two-stage geothermal heat pumps.

Kohler focused on its green schools efforts at Greenbuild rather than on products. The new MUSE School in Southern California, founded in 2006 is focused on the environment and green living that infuses all aspects of the school's instruction and character. As part of that philosophy, in 2010, MUSE founders purchased a defunct school on 22 rural acres in Calabasas Highlands outside of Malibu and set about creating a new campus that was built using all reclaimed materials and environmentally friendly products. A partnership with Kohler Co. sprung out of a mutual desire to promote and use water-saving products wherever possible. The school uses nearly 100 Kohler water-saving plumbing products, including the Sculpted Touchless faucet with a hybrid energy system to Steward waterless urinals, were used in the renovation. In a seminar, Herbert V. Kohler Jr., chairman and CEO of Kohler, gave a presentation on one of his alma maters, the new Kohler Environmental Center (KEC) on the campus of Choate Rosemary Hall, a college preparatory school in Wallingford, Conn. The KEC is the first teaching, research and residential environmental center in U.S. secondary education, and in November, the U.S. Green Building Council certified it LEED Platinum. The 14 high school students and faculty members living and studying there are being challenged to live “net zero.” Herb Kohler provided the inspiration, financial support and design direction for the new 31,800-sq.ft. KEC. He graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in 1957 and then served on the school's board of trustees from 1995 – 2011.

Sloan Valve Co., at Greenbuild, displayed its Solis solar-powered, sensor-activated water-saving flushometer valves that are now available in a concealed version. The solar power, which uses any available light source, doubles battery life. True Mechanical Override allows flushing during a power failure and its non-hold-open feature prevents water waste. Components are protected by a stainless steel wall plate. The valves use an infrared sensor that can detect both high and low targets. They operate at water pressures from 15-100-PSI. A Sentinel Flush feature activates the valve if use has not been detected in 72 hours. The valves are available for both water closets and urinals in standard consumption 1.6-GPF and 1.0-GPF versions or in high efficiency 1.28-GPF and 0.5-GPF models.

Aquatherm showed its large diameter heat-fused polypropylene at Greenbuild. Aquatherm Greenpipe is a recyclable polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping system designed specifically for potable water applications. The highly engineered pipe system is available in sizes up to 18-in. in diameter, and is ideal for water mains and high rise buildings. The new 18-in. Greenpipe features a standard dimension ratio 11 (SDR 11) wall thickness, which is capable of delivering 4,000-6,000-GPM and provides a balance of strength and flow rate. Greenpipe can be directly buried in soil, sand, and other materials. Aquatherm’s natural R-value of 1 — or more depending on pipe size and SDR — also delivers potential savings in terms of insulation and energy loss.

Niagara Conservation announced that it now has 19 products within the company’s Earth and Prismiere showerhead lines that have been WaterSense certified by the EPA. As a WaterSense certified product, select Niagara Earth and Prismiere showerheads have been tested and proven to have a flow rate of 2.0-GPM or less, as well as provide a shower experience that meets the performance criteria for spray intensity and water coverage. Ensuring up to 40% less water usage than “low-flow” showerheads with traditional flow restrictors, Earth showerheads can help save nearly 7,300-gal. of water per year and are available with 1.25, 1.5 and 2.0-GPM flow rates. A patented, non-removable compensator device in the showerhead maintains a consistent flow rate by adjusting flow as water pressure fluctuates from 30 psi to 80 psi. Earth Massage showerheads also feature nine jets that are adjustable from a gentle spray to a turbo jet massage. Niagara offers the Earth Showerheads in three styles: a wall mount available in a white or chrome finish, a chrome-finished handheld with a 72-in. hose and the Earth Soap & Soak showerhead in white or chrome that includes a patented pause valve.

Mitsubishi Electric U.S. Cooling & Heating Division displayed the new MXZ-8B48NA outdoor unit at Greenbuild that can connect with up to eight indoor units to provide eight individual zones. Using a single outdoor unit with up to eight zones allows greater flexibility in both application and product selection. The 4-ton rated MXZ-8B48NA unit features a total system line length of 377 feet and uses Mitsubishi Electric’s branch boxes, the PAC-AKA51BC three-port and the PAC-AKA51BC five-port, to simplify lineset layout and location. The system can connect from two to eight indoor units, depending on application requirements. The system has one port on the outdoor unit for two insulated refrigerant lines that connect to the branch box or boxes. From there, refrigerant piping plus power and control wiring run into each of the indoor units. The LEVs in the branch box are used to control the refrigerant flow as the load in each zone changes.

Lead-free, innovative technology at ASPE

Zurn showcased its lead-free lines at ASPE, which encompasses a wide selection of commercial brass fixtures and the Wilkins Div. water control products. Zurn urged engineers to change their specifications in advance of the federal lead-free law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. Zurn pointed out that there is no need to get stuck with non-compliant products in inventory, that the conversion now ensures plenty of product availability and that engineers need to educate their staff and customers about the law long before it takes effect. The firm’s lead-free lines include Wilkins valves, risers, dilectric unions, strainers, hose bibs, vacuum breakers ad tanks, among others, and Zurn branded faucets, valves, supply lines and trap primers.

NIBCO also emphasized its lead-free products at ASPE. The company bolstered its HydraPure line of valves and fittings with a 16-page collection of three white papers, including A Comparison of Lead-Free Copper Alloys, Lead-Free and Leaded Plumbing Alloys — A Comparison of High Temperature Properties, and Soldering of NIBCO Lead-Free Dezincification of Resistant Copper Silicon Alloys. The collection of white papers is available from NIBCO, 547/295-3000 and www.nibco.com.

Viega showed ASPE members how its ProPress for stainless steel and MegaPress for black iron can save time and money. Viega showed the engineers case studies of stainless projects at a Marriott hotel in Indianapolis, a hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., and a frozen food processing plant in Portland, Ore. The object was to allay engineers’ worries that the joints won’t work. For example, the case studies quote the projcty manager at the frozen food plant, Dave Ruby, vice president at Progressive Mechanical, saying, “After installing 85,000 press joints to date, we have had very few issues and the ones that we had were due to operator and installation errors.”

There’s an app for that. Grundfos at ASPE came out with an app that allows mobile control of its pumps. The Grundfos GO Remote is an attachment that plugs into any smartphone that works with the firm’s E-pumps and communicates using both radio and infrared technology. It provides live pump data feeds such as duty point, power consumption, speed or temperature. The alarm log system has been designed to make the error codes descriptive and intuitive. It also includes a built-in DPF generator that stores pump reports.

Moen Commercial showed a number of no-head trim kits and showering systems to allow specifiers greater flexibility within their facilities. These expanded options include no-head trim kits and a new, heavy-duty showerhead that is engineered to optimize performance at all flow rates. New, no-head trim kits allow the tub/shower components to be specified with the fixed showerhead style preferred by each decision maker to meet the needs of a specific facility.  The variable flow rates meet the requirements for a number of applications, providing increased options and reducing costs when installing new shower products. The heavy-duty showerhead design features a heavy-duty metal shell and set screws that hold the showerhead to the arm, making it vandal-resistant. The channeled-head design also provides the optimal droplet size, coverage and force, delivering a good showering experience. Available options include a standard 2.5-GPM model or two Eco-Performance models that flow at 1.5 or 1.75-GPM and are certified to meet WaterSense criteria. The expanded trim kits and showerhead options are available in the new brushed nickel finish, as well as chrome.

American Standard presented a quality story to the engineers with its commercial and institutional plumbing products. Faucets are tarnish-, scratch-, and corrosion-resistant, WaterSense certified, lead-free, and contain ceramic disc valves. For baths and showers, the universal valve body allows hotel operators to change trim option without tearing into the wall. FloWise showerheads deliver as little as 1.5-GPM for savings as much as 40% over 2.5-GPM showerheads. Water closets feature and anti-microbial surface coating and the jetted siphonic flushing action maintains the water spot while clearing the bowl. The company also noted its acceptance in hospitals, such as Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., showing products such as seated showers and walk-in baths. Its ICU sink system has a deep and sloped basin that reduces splashing, an offset non-pooling drain without overflow and a hands-free faucet with laminar flow. Commercial fixtures, such as the Madera toilet with Selectronic flush valve, use as little at 1.1-GPF.

Dahl Bros. showed its dahl-ECO line of mini-ball valves that meet any current low lead standard worldwide. Specifically, they are compliant to the requirements of the latest Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Acts including Senate Bill SB. 3874, California Health Safety Code Section 116875 (AB 1953), Vermont Act 193 (S-152), Maryland House Bill HB372 and U.S. Senate Bill S. 3874. The dahl-ECO lead-free valves are made using a patented ECO BRASS alloy (C69300), which is resistant to dezincification and corrosion cracking. This makes them durable in extremely harsh conditions. Like every mini-ball valve, dahl-ECO valves are covered by a 25-year warranty. They are available in thousands of configurations. The valve’s patented modular design allows Dahl to produce a valve for just about any application a customer may have.