If you’ve been doing your research into the latest innovations in home heating, you’ll probably have noticed the growing popularity of hydronic heating and the glowing reviews it’s receiving from some of the world’s top architectural firms. Just last month in the United States, a joint architectural project, redeveloping an eighteen-storey high-rise in Portland, Oregon, was named America’s Most Sustainable Building for 2016. Among its features and central to its success was the building’s hydronic heating and cooling system. The state-of-the-art system was judged a real winner for its enhanced indoor air quality, while its crowning attribute was its incredible efficiency — saving between 10 and 15 per cent of total-building energy-use, compared to a more traditional air-volume mechanical system.
It was a similar story at this year’s Australian Interior Design Awards, with a Melbourne architectural firm claiming top-gong for Interior Design Impact. The firm’s multi-residential development in Brunswick left out ‘material’ features like car-parking, second bathrooms and fancy tiling, instead focusing on ‘green’ elements, like thermal efficiency, double-glazing and, you guessed it, hydronic heating. The end result; 24 apartments boasting a guarantee of ‘tiny utility bills’. A replica project has since gained momentum with a wait-list of almost 1000 prospective buyers.
But it’s not just Australia’s modern architectural developments basking in the green warmth of hydronic heating. The tiny village of Walhalla in Victoria’s Alpine region may have a population of less than twenty but it draws an average of 120,000 visitors annually. The attraction is not just for the town’s historic significance, as one of Australia’s richest gold areas between 1863 and 1914, but also the beauty of its picturesque colonial-era buildings with rambling European gardens. One of the more prestigious of these homes is the eight-bedroom, five-bathroom manor, Windsor House. Built in 1878 by a German carpenter, Windsor House has stood the test of time, largely due to its structure of 90,000 hand-made bricks. Today, the property operates as a boutique B&B, having undergone significant restoration following years of neglect, mid last century. The restoration involved painstaking attention to detail, ensuring the property maintained its colonial heritage (it’s classified by National Trust) while also adapting new technologies to offer modern and sustainable comfort. Given the building’s sheer size and the renowned rigors of Alpine Winters, the choice of heating was utterly critical. It had to be toasty-effective but also financially-efficient. And so began the manor’s repute as a triumph of hydronic heating.
Back to the US and the grow and glow of hydronic heating isn’t going unnoticed. In fact, it’s caught the attention of international market research provider, Global Market Insights INC., which has tipped the world’s underfloor hydronic heating market to exceed US$8 billion in the next seven years. It’s forecast gains of more than eight per-cent from 2016 to 2023, saying increased awareness of energy efficiency and environmental concerns will drive industry demand, along with increased recognition for product innovation and operational cost-effectiveness. What a glowing appraisal for this growing technology.
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