2015 ASHRAE Winter Conference: A Look Back

Bruce Pittsby Bruce Pitts, CPMP, CSBA, LEED AP BD+C

The 2015 ASHRAE Winter Conference was held in Chicago on January 24-28th, and I had the pleasure of attending on behalf of Wood Harbinger. I am also part of a number of ASHRAE committees, and the annual Winter and Summer conferences serve a dual purpose for us committee members. Since we are spread out all over the country, the conferences provide us the opportunity to gather twice a year to meet, discuss, make decisions, and assign actions.

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

I arrived in Chicago on Friday and spent the weekend in committee meetings. The discussions revolved around commissioning standards and certifications as it relates to ASHRAE. Much of what we discussed I can’t share with you here, but I will say that it was long and lively and I was exhausted before the real conference even started.

On to the Conference

Once the committee business concluded I did have the opportunity to take in some conference sessions. I thought this year’s conference schedule was well laid out with great topics in tracks for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced understanding.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): A Changing Game

One of the sessions I attended was focused on procedures for measuring and monitoring Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). My primary takeaway from this session is that the only real, relevant method of determining IAQ is through absorption laboratory testing. This process involves identifying the space where IAQ is to be measured, installing devices that absorb particulates and gases in the space, leaving the devices in the space for a period of time, then sending them to a lab to be run through a spectrometer to determine what they absorbed from the air, and in what levels.

This topic was of interest to me as approaches to IAQ have changed throughout the years. Back in the ‘60s, IAQ and temperature control was great, despite smoke in the air and all manner of other particulates. Energy was cheap and energy conservation wasn’t a concern, so no one cared what it took in terms of HVAC systems to enable acceptable IAQ and occupant comfort.

Things changed in the ‘70s, as energy efficiency and conservation came to the forefront. IAQ was sometimes sacrificed in the name of efficiency and conservation. We then saw the emergence of “sick building syndrome,” revealing the real and harmful effects of poor air quality and the need for good ventilation and filtration in buildings.

Eventually technology emerged and improved digital building controls become available, which helped strike a balance between energy conservation and IAQ. ASHRAE Standard 62 was first published in 1973, which we know today as 62.1 and 62.2, the recognized standards for ventilation system design and acceptable IAQ.

The industry research focus now is on achieving greater energy efficiency while at the same time maintaining and improving IAQ. From the commissioning perspective, this session highlighted the latest methodologies and best practices for measuring and confirming adherence to IAQ standards and goals, which helps us keep up to speed with where things are going.

AHRExpo: An Endless Sea of Vendors

I did also have a chance to check out the AHR Expo, held in connection with the ASHRAE conference. Apparently, this year’s show was the largest in history. With somewhere on the order of 2,200 vendors, one must have a strategically planned route in order to accomplish anything at this event.


The ASHRAE Expo floor. Photo by Bruce Pitts.

I was on the hunt for new and different things that I’ve not seen before. I spoke with one vendor about a new device for low velocity airflow measure relevant to a particular project we’re working on at Wood Harbinger. I looked into foreign products as well as new controls for Mitsubishi VRF systems. I had a chance to talk with a rep from Alerton, our neighbors in Redmond, WA, and we decided to talk further shop back at home on the topic of building controls interface. From a commissioning perspective, we see building owners and operators needing an intuitive interface that can provide “easy button” access to determine whether systems are operating correctly, and an ability to toggle between a basic interface and a more technical side when needed. We also want to discuss the look and feel of integrating BIM and the controls system. BIM is most often underutilized or forgotten after project completion but it can serve as a robust method of storing and accessing systems information as well as operation and maintenance procedures and practices.

Summer in Atlanta

The next ASHRAE conference will be this summer in Atlanta. I am hoping to make it to more sessions at this conference. And I know I will have more lively committee meetings to attend!

Follow Bruce on Twitter @BPitts_WH

This entry was posted in All Engagements, All Insignts, Commissioning, Speak Out Loud and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>