The ISH China/CIHE Trade Show in Beijing has become bigger and smarter since my last visit here four years ago. Bigger because for the first time the trade show has filled eight halls of the New China International Exhibition Center in Beijing. Smarter because the 2016 version of the show has more focus on intelligent building technology.

ISH China is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with the event running May 30 through June 1. Both descriptions of bigger and smarter mentioned above are huge leaps from where the show started in 1996. The show attracted 180 exhibitors that year vs. 1,200 in 2016. The emphasis in 1996 was on big boilers and big burners. The challenge was to convert the coal-fired heating equipment in China to products powered by natural gas.

What has not changed over the years is the emphasis on innovative HVAC and plumbing solutions, noted a representative of show co-producer Messe Frankfurt during an opening ceremony.

“From the beginning, the emphasis has been on energy efficiency,” he said.

Along with the trade show, the three-day event presented the second China International HVAC Congress where energy efficiency has been an important topic of discussion among the 400 attendees. The growing emphasis on intelligent heating-and-cooling technologies is evident in forum topics such as “How Smart Home Technologies Benefit the Development of Intelligent HVAC Solutions.”

Spurring on the talk of smart technologies is the acute air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities. The headline on this blog comes from wording on an exhibitor’s booth on the trade show floor and captures the environmental challenge China faces.

The Chinese government’s beefed-up policies to promote energy-efficient technologies that utilize renewable energy sources have helped boost ISH China/CIHE attendance, show producers say. Greater government investment to construct affordable green housing and public buildings has boosted the market for energy-efficient products. Recognizing this growth, German and Italian manufacturers increased their booth space at this year’s trade show to display European technologies.

Products from Asian, European and even North American manufacturers include controls, robotics and smart thermostats. Among the brands familiar to U.S. contractors, engineers, distributors and manufacturers reps are: A. O. Smith, Watts Water Technologies, Reliance Worldwide, Navien, Grundfos, Rheem, Caleffi, Aquatherm, Raypak, Rinnai, Siemens, Pentair and WILO.


Trade shows in China and Germany

ISH China is an offshoot of the better known ISH in Germany, produced every other year by Messe Frankfurt. Several years ago, ISH China merged with CIHE, produced by Beijing B&D Tiger Exhibition Co.

Since I have attended the ISH shows in Germany and China, people have asked me to compare the two. I see two main differences:
In Frankfurt, chances are good that you will find someone who speaks English in an exhibitor’s booth; in Beijing, those odds are dramatically reduced.

And, while many products in Germany have not crossed the Atlantic, you may see a high-efficiency pump or boiler, for example, that eventually will hit the U.S. market; on my first trip to Beijing four years ago, many of the lower-end products on display will never make it to North America.

Maybe that will change with the new emphasis on smart building technologies. Only time will tell.

By the way, the sky over Beijing only approached the color blue in my three days here even though my weather app described the daylight hours as “Sunny.” And, China is plenty warm right now with daytime temps in the low 90s.