Nearly 1,700 people attended ASHRAE’s 2014 Annual Conference from June 28-July 2 in Seattle, experiencing a bevy of new announcements and changes from the organization. ASHRAE touted the introduction of a new strategic plan, creation of a new IAQ alliance, and the announcement of a milestone related to its research program.

The new strategic plan has four broad goals: to connect, educate, extend, and adapt. These may seem like overly simple ideas, but each of them, according to ASHRAE’s website, “further define specific accomplishments to pursue within the plan horizon.”

Bill Bahnfleth, 2013-2014 ASHRAE president, believes the plan is the single most important accomplishment for the organization. “Planning provides our map from the present to the future,” he said. “In laying the groundwork for the new plan that can guide us over the next three to five years, we asked key questions of ourselves and others. Who are our members and what are their needs? How do we structure our society to be truly global and financially sound?

“ASHRAE is a conservative organization and has a strong reputation and good financial health to show for it. However, there are times when we have to venture beyond certainties to meet new challenges and take advantage of critical opportunities. I believe we have been in such a period for nearly a decade. This plan allows us to be more proactive in shaping our future.”

Phoenix Takes Charge

While Bahnfleth expressed the importance of the plan, it is 2014-2015 president Tom Phoenix who will be leading the effort to see it through. Phoenix was happy about the conference’s overall direction.

“I thought the overall vibe was one of excitement,” said Phoenix. “This excitement comes from coming together in one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S. to share experiences and information about how to improve building stock around the world. Most folks probably don’t connect engineering and excitement, but I saw a lot of passion coming from the attendees about furthering research, writing standards, and working together in other ways to make buildings and systems as efficient as possible.

“I always like to say the ASHRAE Conference is a one-stop shop that provides attendees access to gathering and sharing technical knowledge and experiences. This is achieved through the technical program, ASHRAE’s Learning Institute courses, the bookstore, and committee members.”

During the conference, it was announced that ASHRAE’s 2013-2014 Research Promotion (RP) campaign reached a new high of $2.35 million donated by members, chapters, and companies. These funds are used to support ongoing research projects, the ASHRAE Learning Institute, Young Engineers in ASHRAE (YEA) Leadership activities, and scholarships. Another monetary milestone was reached as the ASHRAE Foundation passed the $10 million mark in funds and endowments.

Outreach is Crucial

A memorandum of understanding creating the Indoor Environment Quality Global Alliance (IEQGA) was signed during the conference by a number of groups. The groups joining the IEQGA are the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre (AIVC), the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA), the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), and the Federation of European Heating and Air-Conditioning Associations (REHVA).

“I would say the grandest trend [at the conference] was outreach — the opportunity for all disciplines in the building industry to sit together and ensure good design, construction, and operation,” said Phoenix.

“You saw that with the announcement that ASHRAE and the IAQA are joining forces, strengthening the programs and services of both organizations. We saw it with the creation of the Indoor Environment Quality Global Alliance, which will serve as a global source for information, guidance, and knowledge on indoor environmental quality. It was also apparent at the more than 600 committee meetings where attendees from all facets of our industry shared their knowledge and ideas.”

The IEQGA website lists its mission: “To provide an acceptable indoor environmental quality (thermal environment/IAQ/lighting-acoustic) to occupants in buildings and places of work around the world and to make sure the knowledge from research on IEQ get to be implemented in practice.”

And as ASHRAE reflects on one conference, it also sets its sights on another. ASHRAE’s 2015 Winter Conference will take place in Chicago, Jan. 24-28, 2015, at the Palmer House Hilton. Held in conjunction with the Winter Conference will be the AHR Expo, Jan. 26-28, at McCormick Place.

Publication date: 8/11/2014

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