By Peter Saunders
The return of ASHRAE and AHR Expo to in-person events has everyone smilingEngineering
After taking a year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Conference and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) returned as in-person events earlier this year in Las Vegas, Nev.
ASHRAE gathered more than 2,800 building systems engineers, contractors, architects and students at Caesars Palace from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2.
“While the numbers were lower than at past conferences, in-person attendance still exceeded our expectations,” said 2021- 22 society president Mick Schwedler.
The society’s first-ever ‘hybrid’ winter conference featured more than 50 technical sessions, executive updates, tours, social events and livestreamed sessions for virtual attendees.
One of the most popular sessions was ‘HVAC Design, Control and Operation of Hospitals After COVID-19 Fiasco.’ Timothy Jacoby, corporate vice-president (VP) of facilities design for Scripps Health, outlined strategies for further reducing airborne infections in health-care facilities, including dilution ventilation, differential pressurization, local exhaust, central system filtration and personalized ventilation.
“I’m a huge fan of natural ventilation when you can open the windows,” he said. “It also saves energy.”
Another session focused on dental clinics. Dentists have reportedly faced greater COVID-19 exposure risk than almost anyone else, including paramedics and nurses.
“A dentist sees far more patients in a day than a surgeon does,” said presenter Dr. David Ahearn, founder of Design Ergonomics. “With an understanding of aerosol patterns using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), we can control most of the probability of infection at the source.”
The conference also recognized ASHRAE members’ outstanding achievements. Robert Bean, president of Indoor Climate Consultants, and Tim McGinn, P.Eng., principal of McGinn Technical Services, both based in Calgary, Alta., were among those elevated to Fellow, a grade that recognizes contributions to industry education, research and mentoring.
In a student competition, which imagined the HVAC needs of a 50,000-sf post-secondary campus building in Prince George, B.C., first place in the HVAC design calculations category went to University of British Columbia (UBC) team members Brandon Jung, Arin Lee, Lukengo Miguel, Kyle Vanderhorst and Taewoong (Jeff) Yoon.
The Young Engineer in ASHRAE (YEA) Inspirational Leader Award went to Toronto-based Badri Patel, commercial market account executive for Johnson Controls Canada.
(And speaking of Toronto, I should mention that’s where ASHRAE’s Annual Conference is soon to be held, from June 25 to 29.)
The AHR Expo, meanwhile, took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, drawing 30,678 attendees. Some 1,573 exhibitors showcased heating, cooling, ventilation, building automation, plumbing, refrigeration and indoor air quality (IAQ) systems across 443,769 sf of exhibit space in two halls.
Next year, both events will head to Atlanta, Ga.