Engineers and contractors will be interested in learning more at ASHRAE’s Winter Meeting, which will feature upwards of 100 sessions and 68 paper presentations. (Photo courtesy of ASHRAE.)

CHICAGO - The focus at the 2009 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Winter Conference will be on “Sustainable Urban Design: Engineering Tomorrow … Today,” which is an appropriate topic when meeting in the Windy City. Chicago has one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, as well as long-standing status as a livable urban center, which makes it the perfect backdrop for the Winter Conference.

Opening the meeting on Jan. 24 at the plenary session will be keynote speaker Chris Luebkeman, who runs the Global Foresight and Innovation initiative at Arup, a global design and engineering firm. His presentation will echo the meeting theme with a focus on sustainable urbanization, looking at some of the current global efforts to both design new cities and adapt existing cities to the new era of dwindling resources.

The conference’s technical program, which runs from Jan. 25-28 at the Palmer House Hilton, will feature upwards of 100 sessions, 68 paper presentations, and the availability of more than 140 Professional Development Hour (PDH) credits. New this year will be an extended series of sessions at McCormick Place (where the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating Exposition [AHR Expo] will be taking place) on Wednesday, Jan. 28. The “Wednesday Welcome” event offers ASHRAE members a chance to attend a kick-off morning reception and receive critical technical information at the educational sessions, with access to the show floor to see the latest in HVACR offerings.

“The Wednesday Welcome gives Winter Conference attendees two great reasons to spend some extra time in Chicago,” said Bill Harrison, ASHRAE president. “Not only does this extension of the ASHRAE Technical Program provide additional opportunities for earning PDHs, but attendees can take advantage of the location to make the most of the experience through AHR Expo’s networking and product opportunities. It’s the biggest bang for your ASHRAE buck.”

The Wednesday Welcome will include 18 hands-on, applications-type programs, held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., centering on the technical program theme of sustainable urban design. Sessions held at McCormick Place will feature back-to-basics sessions on load calculations and liquid chiller operations, BIM, Standard 62.1’s demand controlled ventilation and IAQ procedure, VFDs, commissioning for sustainability programs, building automation systems, and sessions titled Liability and Litigation Issues in Green Design, Part 1 and 2 and Case Studies in Sustainable Retrofit to Reduce Energy of Existing Buildings.

Also featured in the technical program will be plenary speaker, Adrian Bejan, Ph.D., A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University. Bejan developed the constructal theory, which he says can predict how everything flows through time and space. The session will take place from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 25.


As in past years, ASHRAE will present a free public session at the AHR Expo. This year’s session is titled Sustainability in the Urban Environment and will discuss how the industry is building on its efforts to increase energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality of buildings by furthering the sustainability of entire communities. It will be held at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 at McCormick Place.

The chairperson of the public session is Dennis Wessel, who will introduce others who have worked extensively on urban sustainability in both Northern and Southern U.S. cities. The city of Chicago has a sustainability program in place and has made significant advances in getting residents to work toward that common goal. Chicago’s program, its implementation, and its successes will be addressed by Suzanne Malec-McKenna in the first presentation titled City of Chicago’s Sustainability Program.

The electric utility company in the city of Austin, Texas is working with local government and industry in the development of a sustainability program. Maureen Scanlon will discuss the advancements made in Austin toward their green goal in the second presentation titled, Think Global, Act Local: The Austin, Texas Story. In the third presentation, Douglas Farr will discuss sustainable urbanism as addressed in his book. In addition, he will present an update on the proposed LEED ND certification program, which is working toward making entire communities sustainable.

One of the technical tours will feature the new Modern Wing addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, which will open in late spring 2009. The art galleries and storage areas are designed based on very exacting environmental criteria with strict temperature, relative humidity, and filtration performance requirements. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.)


ASHRAE technical tours offer an inside view of how technology developed by members has been practically applied in building environments. This year’s lineup of tours is particularly impressive and includes the following locations:

• InterContinental Chicago has received an Energy Star award for superior eco-friendly initiatives and highly efficient energy use. The hotel’s most recent initiatives include a green roof installed last summer. The green roof includes drought-resistant plants, covers a 1,200-square-foot area, and will mitigate the heat island effect from the building and capture a significant portion of the rain water that falls on the roof. The hotel has recently finished a comprehensive evaluation and upgrade of the steam heating system to maximize the efficiency and reduce losses due to vent steam.

• The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is a 140,000-square-foot, mixed-use academic building informed by the concepts of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and bal tashchit (do not waste). Overlooking Grant Park, the building recognizes the importance of water and energy as a regional resource through a variety of conservation means, most notably by a faceted high-performance glass façade. Exemplary IAQ provides for the stewardship of the institute’s precious books, manuscripts and art collections, as well as occupant health.

• The Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) is a brownfield redevelopment and building renovation project that is now a model for the nation. CCGT was one of the first buildings in the United States to be designed for LEED-NC Platinum and features four arrays of photovoltaic panels, which provide 30 percent of the building’s electricity demand. Motion-sensitive lights and a smart-lighting system were also incorporated, and the HVAC system uses ground source heat pumps to heat and cool the well-insulated building.

• The New Modern Wing facility is a 264,000-square-foot addition to the Art Institute of Chicago that will open in late spring 2009. The art galleries and storage areas are designed based on very exacting environmental criteria with strict temperature, relative humidity, and filtration performance requirements. The project required significant utility infrastructure upgrades including new central steam and chilled water facilities and new electric infrastructure. The Modern Wing incorporates a number of innovative design features, including a water-side economizer system, CO2 monitoring, and a separate air-handling system dedicated to the art gallery and storage spaces.

For more information on the ASHRAE Conference, visit For more information on technical tours, visit

Sidebar: Don't-Miss Sessions

Contractors visiting the AHR Expo should also consider attending some of the sessions at the ASHRAE Winter Conference. Seminars of interest for contractors include:

• Commercial Building Re-Tuning: A Low Cost Approach to Improved Performance and Energy Efficiency;

• Best Maintenance Practices for Emission Reductions;

• How Can Contractors Succeed in a Sustainable World? Clarifying the Expectations of an Engineer, Contractor, and Owner to Deliver a Sustainable Project;

• Energy Savings with In-Duct UV-C;

• GSHP Performance and Costs: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?

• Can Air Cleaning Reduce Ventilation Rate Required for Acceptable IAQ?

• Generation Skipping and Your Charitable Gift Plans;

• Emerging Public Policy Issues for Climate Change and Buildings.

For more information on ASHRAE technical sessions, visit

Publication date:01/12/2009