Taking the Technology Plunge

Many of us watched in awe recently as Felix Baumgartner jumped 24 miles above the earth to become the first human to break the sound barrier. Exceeding speeds of over 800 miles per hour, it obviously took a man on a mission and plenty of courage to take that plunge.

However, what some people may have overlooked while watching this incredible feat was the equally incredible technology required to make it a success. Thousands of hours and nearly 5 years of hard work went into making the special ‘space’ suit, the balloon capsule, and a lot of the other technologically advanced equipment. It took a team of dedicated engineers who could adapt and enhance existing technology, as well as create such innovative new technology.

Interestingly, the same principle holds true in the building services industry. Although we don’t have engineers jumping from balloons miles above the earth, there are thousands of dedicated mechanical and specifying/consulting engineers working around the clock to enhance the existing technologies and create innovative new solutions and applications.

With the goal of designing and manufacturing more energy-efficient and greener products and systems, building service engineers are constantly striving to help people reduce their heating and cooling costs and better manage precious water resources. And, although the recession may have slowed the pace of innovation for some, many manufacturers have taken the technology plunge and are creating some incredible new products and systems.

Much of this innovation is coming from such relatively new technology areas as geothermal, biomass, radiant and solar. However, there is also a great deal of innovation taking place in the more traditional hydronic areas, and not just with products.

A ‘systems approach’ is being adapted to the design, procurement, installation, operation and maintenance of many building components. This helps building owners achieve compliance with existing and emerging building codes, maximize energy and water efficiency, and help meet sustainability goals. It’s these technologies, innovations and new ways of thinking that have helped achieve greener, more energy-efficient systems.

There are several examples of how innovation and new technology are helping advance the building services marketplace. A few that come to mind are SMART circulators driven by ECM technology, advanced variable speed controllers, and the growth of lead-free products.

However, we are always interested in learning about other innovative new products and companies that have taken the technology plunge.