LAS VEGAS – With 86 papers, 248 presentations, and 331 speakers, the technical program at the ASHRAE 2017 Winter Conference is bound to have something for everyone. The program offers eight different learning tracks (four of them new this year), which include Water-Energy Nexus; Advances in Mission-Critical Design and Operation; Climate Change and its Effects on HVACR Design and Technologies; Energy-Efficient Industrial Buildings; Fundamentals and Applications; HVACR Systems and Equipment; Commercial and Industrial IAQ; and Building Operation and Performance: Meeting the Modeling Expectations.

“The technical program was built around the challenges being faced by today’s HVACR professionals,” said Tim Wentz, president and fellow of ASHRAE and faculty member of the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska. “Our industry experiences rapid advances in the modeling, design, equipment, systems, construction, and operation of buildings. Along with the changes that impact us today, we’re working to ensure our buildings remain efficient and sustainable into the future. How do you accomplish that if tomorrow promises to be notably different than today? Our program organizers have put together a strong program that attempts to bridge this design challenge.”


When Wentz attended his first ASHRAE Winter Conference in 1979, he went with his father, who told him it was the best place to learn about future trends in the HVACR industry. “My dad, a third-generation contractor, said ‘When you go to an ASHRAE meeting, you will find the building owners we serve, the engineers we work for, the suppliers we buy from, and our competitors all in the same room. You need to be in that room.’ And here I am, some 30-plus years later, still looking forward to being in that room.”

While at the conference, Wentz plans to drop in on some technical and standards committee meetings so he can hear discussions on the future of ASHRAE’s standards and research. In fact, he encourages all attendees to take advantage of the meetings being open so they can gain feedback and learn about new ideas from a variety of people. “That is what makes ASHRAE so strong, and it is another great example of why you need to be in the room.”

One of the timely issues that will be covered at the conference this year is the global phasedown in production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as well as the development of new low-GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants. Attendees will learn more about how these new refrigerants will be rated for safety and in what types of systems and building applications they can be used, said Wentz. Other key points to be discussed at the conference include the balance between energy and water use as well as how to design buildings to be resilient.

“Being resilient means having the foresight to design buildings to withstand changes in the environment 20 years down the road,” he said.


While some may believe the conference is geared more toward engineers, as a former mechanical contractor himself, Wentz disagrees. “The benefits of networking and sharing solutions to today’s issues apply to all in our industry. Contractors bring a valuable voice to the table, and I’d encourage them to take part.”

Some of the sessions that may appeal to contractors this year include:

  • “Key Impacts of ASHRAE Standards on Waterside Construction and Design” will focus on the lack of understanding of ASHRAE standards as they apply to real-world HVAC hydronic system construction. This workshop will cover specific sections of Standard 90.1 and others that have a direct impact on HVAC installation and design.

  • “When Buildings Get Wet....What Does That Mean?” will focus on the fundamental concepts of moisture management in buildings, including common moisture problems and fixes, and how dampness applies to real-world situations.

  • “Introducing the Guide for Sustainable Refrigerated Facilities and Refrigeration Systems (1634-RP)” will preview the contents and use of this upcoming ASHRAE special publication. This design guide aims to help designers, contractors, and operators of refrigerated facilities and industrial and commercial refrigeration systems.


This year, ASHRAE will offer four free sessions related to residential buildings. These sessions will take place Tuesday, Jan. 31, beginning at 11 a.m., at the Las Vegas Convention Center in conjunction with the AHR Expo, and topics include:

  • “Did It Really Work? Theory vs. Practice in Residential HVAC” will show how actual energy and thermal comfort in real-world houses differ from expectations. Speakers will also show data from specific designs and installation practices that have helped contractors meet and exceed customer expectations with simple, low-cost, reliable equipment instead of expensive products that too often fail to deliver comfort and low energy performance.

  • “ASHRAE's Residential Initiative: Why We Care” will cover how ASHRAE’s Residential Ad Hoc Committee became the newly established Residential Building Committee (RBC), what purpose the RBC serves, the importance of residential design in ASHRAE standards, and a summary of ASHRAE’s residential market advocacy efforts with government agencies.

  • “International Experience and Contractors’ Perspectives on Residential Aspects that Need to be Considered on Every Job” will provide insights from a recently concluded four-year investigation that quantifies the consequences of failing to observe the design and installation elements contained within the industry’s HVAC Quality Installation specifications.

  • “Flex Ducts, Hard Ducts, and No Ducts: Migration Patterns for Duct Hunters (or not) in the Land of Thermal Comfort” will look at the best practices for distributing heat in residential air and hydronic systems, including ducted and radiant design options.


The 2017 ASHRAE Winter Conference will guide attendees on several technical tours, including:  

  • The High Roller Central Plant and Observation Wheel tour will guide guests through the 6,000-ton central plant, which serves the High Roller, the Linq Promenade, and The Linq Hotel. Next, guests will see the world's largest Observation Wheel, which measures 520 feet in diameter. The wheel takes 30 minutes to complete one full revolution and features 28 glass-enclosed cabins with broad views of Las Vegas and the Strip.

  • The tour of MGM CityCenter’s central plant, which serves Aria, Veer Towers, Vdara, Mandarin, Monte Carlo, New York New York, and the T-Mobile Arena, will detail how the plant can generate up to 35,000 ton of cooling and utilize cogeneration to create its own electricity from waste heat. The state-of-the-art central power plant uses natural gas to create electricity and then captures emitted heat before it enters the atmosphere to meet the domestic hot water needs of all buildings and pools in the complex. This highly efficient cogeneration plant reduces the energy that would otherwise be used by boilers to heat water.

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Publication date: 1/16/2017

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