In October, ISH North America provided 3,363 registered attendees the chance to learn business tips for a down economy, as well as additional information on green opportunities for specialized markets. Besides the 325 exhibitor booths presenting new products and services, ISH show organizer Messe Frankfurt Inc. welcomed several notable speakers to offer insight. Here is a roundup of a few sessionsPMeditors attended while in Atlanta:

  • In PM columnist John Siegenthaler’s session, “Why Hydronic Distribution Systems Are A Deep Shade of Green Technology,” he emphasized distribution efficiency and how it should be just as important as thermal efficiency of boilers.

    “Putting a highly efficient boiler into a poorly designed heating distributing system is like putting a Ferrari engine into a 1962 Volkswagen,” Siegenthaler told attendees.

  • Atlanta-based designer Melissa Galt presented “7 Marketing Secrets Every Designer And Contractor Must Know!” and provided listeners with many useful tips and tactics to create “raving fans” for their companies. One interesting suggestion urged plumbing contractors to “celebrate the installation process.”

    “Nobody does this,” she said, and she believes it will instantly make a company stand out from its competitors. From the project’s initiation (send a bottle of champagne when the contract is signed) to a pre-install picnic (after demo and before the “pretty work” begins, provide a picnic meal to eat in the cleared space), these little steps will make a difference.

  • During day two, Julius Ballanco spoke on water reuse and reclamation. He explained exactly how the codes define the semantics, which really makes a significant difference, since all “greywater” is not equal. Its definition decides where and how the water can be used.

    “What I talk about today should scare the bejesus out of you,” Ballanco told the group. Since the 1920s in America, he said, plumbers have protected the health of the nation through codes and proper sanitation - clean water. Now, with the installation of some lavender-colored pipe, plumbers around the nation could be actively using water that’s not “up-to-snuff.” While Ballanco says it’s not exactly back-to-the-outhouse, it is certainly an industry shake-up.

  • During ISH’s final day of seminars, radiant heating contractors Mark Eatherton and Dave Yates were “Two Real Sharp Peas in a Bright Green Pod.” These winners of the PM-sponsored Carlson-Holohan Award for Excellence continued their education obligation for the hydronic world.

    Yates spoke first about the green opportunities available in this “perfect storm” of rising utility costs and push to increase efficiencies. However, he said, “homeowners are looking at their appliance’s sticker on efficiency and think that’s what they got.” But that’s not true, according to Yates. “Many contractors in the field are not paying attention to distribution and proper sizing to make the systems reach their potential.”

    Eatherton shared his experience with geothermal heat pumps and how he borrows from Mother Nature to supply his projects with a cost-effective fuel source.

    He explained the two most common systems - open and closed - and reiterated that digging into the earth is far from a clean job. Eatherton also cautioned that floor-heating applications may not always benefit from geothermal-only fuel sources, since ground temperatures may not be enough to meet the system demand. “Do the math,” he told the room, and many were taking notes.

    More of the editors’ takes on the 2008 ISH North America show can be found online at The Pipeline, PM’s blog page at

    The next ISH show takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, March 10-14, 2009.