Canadian Consulting Engineer

ASHRAE Winter Conference addresses COVID-19 challenges

HVAC engineers continue to tackle the pandemic.

February 16, 2021  By CCE

ASHRAE 2021 Winter Conference

While there was no co-located AHR Expo this year, ASHRAE’s winter conference made the successful transition to virtual event last week, reportedly drawing more than 1,800 attendees over four days and showcasing educational presentations from HVAC industry professionals around the world.

Running from Feb. 9 to 12, the event featured nearly 60 live sessions, 27 conference paper Q&As and more than 80 on-demand sessions. One of the highlights was a video tour of the association’s new, highly energy-efficient global headquarters (HQ) in Peachtree Corners, Ga.

ASHRAE new HQ

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HVAC systems at new ASHRAE HQ

The conference debuted a video tour of ASHRAE’s new HQ.

Thematically, there was a heavy focus on the global COVID-19 pandemic, with top sessions including ‘Building Operation and COVID-19: What is the Standard of Care and Who’s Responsible’ and ‘Lessons from Managing Infrastructure through the COVID Shutdown,’ for which one of the speakers was Orvil Dillenbeck, manager of site technical services at Ontario’s Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) nuclear research facility, who weighed the fortunate opportunities for HVAC repairs and maintenance against the unfortunate risks of infection control.

In another session, Donald LeBlanc, manager of the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC’s) climatic engineering facility, tackled the issue of whether or not mass transit can be made safe during the pandemic. This is a tricky question, he explained, given most of these vehicles’ HVAC systems were not designed for the addition of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, but such a system’s MERV rating can be increased, as long as its performance is not unduly hindered. And as a filter can only treat the air passing through it, passengers can still spread infections as viral particles travel through the untreated air between them.

“All we can ask of filtration is that it reduces the risks,” he said. “It never eliminates them.”

ASHRAE president Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E.

ASHRAE president Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E., updated attendees on the activities of the organization’s epidemic task force.

ASHRAE also used the occasion of the conference to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of its members, including the following Canadians, through special honours and awards:

  • Elevated to the Fellow ASHRAE membership grade: John M. House, principal, John House Consulting Services, Montreal.
  • Dan Mills Chapter Programs Award: Beatriz Salazar, electrical director, Smith and Andersen, Toronto.
  • Exceptional Service Awards: Nicolas Lemire, P.Eng., president and CEO, Pageau Morel & Associates, Montreal; Tim McGinn, P.Eng., retired, Calgary.
  • Distinguished Service Award: Nicolas Lemire, P.Eng., president and CEO, Pageau Morel & Associates, Montreal.
  • Distinguished 50-Year Member Awards: John B. Bisset, P.Eng., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, founder, Chorley + Bisset, London, Ont.; Frantisek Vaculik, Life Member ASHRAE, Nepean, Ont.
  • First place in ASHRAE Technology Awards: Aaron Smith, P.Eng., Denis A. Morris and Andrew Bartlett, new educational facilities, Dalhousie University IDEA and Design Buildings project, Halifax.

Finally, the organization announced this summer’s annual conference, originally scheduled to be held in Phoenix, Ariz., would instead also become a virtual event.


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