ORLANDO, Fla. – With eight tracks, 100 sessions, and more than 300 speakers, the technical program at ASHRAE’s 2016 Winter Conference is bound to impress attending engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and building professionals. In addition, approximately 200 professional development hours and continuing education units (CEUs) will be offered, which may be applied toward a professional engineering license in many states.

The technical program will have a fresh feel with new tracks focused on design-build practices, cutting-edge technologies, and residential systems, said David Underwood, president of ASHRAE. “We’re taking one of the most popular conference program styles and making an entire track out of a series of debates. The program will also continue our emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability while addressing current engineering and construction practices outside the U.S. and Canada.”

The ASHRAE Conference will take place Jan. 23-27 at the Orlando Hilton. Complete conference information and registration is available at


With a presidential theme of “Making Connections,” Underwood is looking forward to attending the conference in order to make new connections and strengthen existing ones.

“The conference encourages renewing and building new connections with colleagues from around the globe, and these personal connections can be invaluable in sharing our knowledge,” he said. “The event basically allows interested parties in the built environment industry to come together to share ideas and technologies.”

The event offers tremendous value for the money, said Underwood. “In addition to the technical program, there will be more than 600 committee meetings over the course of five days with our technical, standards, and standing committees. Here, our volunteer members and others give freely of their time and talent to write standards, identify research, update current practices, and help guide policy decisions for ASHRAE.”

In those committee meetings, Underwood anticipates that the following issues will be discussed at length:

• Resilience;

• The impact of climate change on building system design (30-year building cycles impacted by higher average temperatures, more severe storm events, etc.);

• Progress on the harmonization of ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1, “Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” and the International Green Construction Code;

• Building information modeling (BIM) standards and guidelines;

• Zero-energy-buildings design guidance; and

• Taking truly integrated building design mainstream.

An emphasis on ASHRAE’s role in the residential building section will also be evident at the conference as the organization looks to strengthen its position through five major initiatives that were adopted as part of its Strategic Plan in 2014. “We’re committed to creating partnerships and collaborating with key organizations in the residential sector; focusing on developing technology; performing research; and educating owners, builders, and designers to improve the residential built environment,” said Underwood. “We created the Residential Building Standing Committee to help guide ASHRAE in moving forward in this area. This group is already looking at holding a residential stakeholder workshop similar to the one held in 2014 to bring together interested parties and share ideas on how to improve residential building stock.”


While engineers will appreciate the numerous sessions offered at the Winter Conference, there are many that contractors may find appealing, as well.

“We welcome all disciplines to the conference so we can learn from each other,” said Underwood, adding that the following sessions are just a few that will be of interest to contractors:

• “Fellows Debate: Commissioning Is Not Part of the Construction Contractor’s Turnover Package” will focus on when to commission a building. Some believe commissioning should take place during the whole construction period, not finishing until at least one year after turnover to the owner. Others argue that this cannot happen in an organically growing building as things are always changing. Both sides of the argument will be explored.

• “Operations and Maintenance for Optimal Performance of Efficient HVACR” will focus on how operations and maintenance impact energy-efficiency measures, specifically how an investment in advanced technology that ignores operations and maintenance and staff training can end up as a costly mistake and cause new problems.

• “Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems: Best Practices for System Efficiency and Longevity” will cover best practices in variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems from the perspectives of the manufacturer, facility manager, and service contractor.

• “Challenges and Opportunities in Residential Construction” will focus on issues with residential construction and energy use in Greece, Canada, and Korea.

Those attending the conference should also check out ASHRAE’s free AHR Expo sessions, which will include:

• “Don’t Call it a Comeback! The New and Improved Design-Build Survival Guide” will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26. In this seminar, speakers will provide a first look at the new, improved, and updated “Design-Build Survival Guide,” which ASHRAE originally published in 2004.

• “Avoiding Pesky Pitfalls Integrating Seismic and Sound Control” will occur at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26. This session will address the advantages of integrating seismic compliance and sound control early in the design-build process.

• “Design-Build for DDC: Yes, It Works! No, It Doesn’t! A Healthy Debate by Two Experts” will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26. One speaker in this session will argue that a design-build scenario is the best solution for today’s direct digital control (DDC) systems, while the other speaker will beg to differ.

• “How Does the Criterion Engineer’s Role Affect the Design-Build Contractor’s and Design-Build Engineer’s Roles During
All Phases of a Design-Build Project?” will take place at 3:45 p.m. on Jan. 26. This seminar discusses issues that can arise as the owner and design-build contractor interpret the documents created by the criterion engineer who establishes the initial design criteria for a project.

SIDEBAR: Technical Tours

ASHRAE Winter Conference technical tours provide attendees with a first-hand look at technology developed by members to further the industry. Tours this year will occur at:

• SeaWorld Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin offers a motion-based simulator experience, followed by an exploration of the penguins’ colony. Special access includes a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to keep the penguins at Antarctic conditions in Orlando.

• The Central Florida Energy Garden is an organics management and renewable energy facility that converts organic waste into renewable biogas and natural fertilizers. When operating at full capacity, the facility will process more than 120,000 tons of organic materials annually while producing 5.4 MW of combined heat and power (CHP). The Energy Garden helps businesses and communities across Central Florida reduce and reuse organic material, increase renewable energy production, and revitalize soil to boost local agriculture.

• The University of Central Florida (UCF) hosts about 60,000 students. This massive campus has a 17,000-ton cooling district served by four central plants located around the campus. The plants are connected to a 3-mile-long distribution loop that serves most buildings on the campus. The tour highlights many portions of the mechanical systems on the campus, including a large 3-million-gallon thermal storage tank and a CHP plant.

• The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) showcases how HVACR, window technology, natural lighting, controls, and other building technologies were integrated to produce an exceptionally energy-efficient building for hot, humid climates. Also, attendees will discover what’s new in alternative energy sources and energy-saving technologies.

For more information on these tours, and other 2016 ASHRAE Winter Conference events, visit www.ashrae.org/orlando.

Publication date: 1/11/2016

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