The technical program at ASHRAE’s 2018 Winter Conference will feature over 200 presentations by nearly 300 speakers. The program will include the traditional tracks on standards, fundamentals and applications, and systems and equipment, as well as tracks on industry trends in resiliency and modeling throughout a building’s life cycle. A series of refrigerant and residential building mini-track seminars will also be presented.

“In recent years, the industry has needed to take steps to mitigate the impact of the world around us on our built environment,” said Michael Collarin, chair of the 2018 ASHRAE Winter Conference. “This is especially the case in our transportation, government, and mission critical arenas where the loss of critical infrastructure can have severe consequences, including the loss of life. The tracks and programs for the ASHRAE Winter Conference will focus on resources to design, build, control, commission, and operate facilities and infrastructure that need to not only be efficient but resilient.”


The conference’s emphasis on resiliency and efficiency will be evident in sessions, such as Operation and Design for Resilient and Responsive Buildings, which will explain how sustainable results are created through resilient building design combined with digital technology. Another session, Resiliency: Building a Safer Future, will include a panel discussion regarding needed building design changes that can address increased weather extremes.

In addition to learning about resiliency and efficiency, members will have the opportunity to take certification exams as well as attend 20 full- and half-day professional development opportunities through the ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI). The conference will also offer the opportunity to network with others in the field, which is another reason why members should plan to attend, said ASHRAE President, Bjarne W. Olesen, director of the International Center for Indoor Environment and Energy, and a professor at Danish Technical University.

“By attending, members will have opportunities to meet with a variety of professionals and colleagues and extend our technological horizons to better serve the built environment community,” he said. “This conference is a way for members to hear from people who are doing what they do, learn about the latest trends, and reignite their passion for advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment.”

ASHRAE’s commitment to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of buildings by making them more energy efficient is evidenced by its recent $1.3 million investment in researching alternative low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. In addition, ASHRAE and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have paired up to launch new eLearning courses to help developing countries better understand and implement the Montreal Protocol as it relates to conventional and low-GWP refrigerants.

“As a society, we are embracing our need to share information in order to build a more sustainable world for all,” noted Olesen.

As part of that global outreach, a meeting of ASHRAE’s Associate Society Alliance will take place at the conference, which will bring together members and representatives from 60 HVAC associations from around the world. That is one of the highlights of the winter meeting for Olesen.

“It’s invigorating to see our colleagues come together to exchange ideas and global best practices,” he said.


There will be many contractors attending the nearby Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo, and Olesen wants them to know they are also welcome at the ASHRAE meeting.

“While some may believe the conference is geared only toward engineers, contractors bring a valuable perspective to the discussions,” he said.

Indeed, the technical program offers sessions designed to appeal to contractors, including:

  • “Residential Ventilation Experiences in Europe and North America Toward Net-Zero Energy Building Design and Operation,” which will focus on smart residential ventilation systems to reduce energy. Common installations in new and renovated buildings will also be shown;
  • “Controlling Pollutant Sources in Residential Buildings,” which will present the results of the latest research and development in controlling residential pollutant sources; and
  • “Advancements in Energy Savings,” which will present a cost-effective HVAC solution that combines multiple systems and outlines various factors that can help save costs and reduce heat load.

Contractors may also be interested in attending ASHRAE’s series of refrigerant and residential building mini-track seminars that will take place at the AHR Expo. The eight seminars are free and will be offered from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22. The residential track seminars include:

  • “Senses and Cents: Reducing Sound, Improving Comfort, and Enabling Energy Efficiency in Residential Buildings,” which will cover the fundamentals in duct and pipe design;
  • “Real-World Experience Providing Residential Energy Excellence,” which will highlight the importance of a trained workforce in meeting expected design and performance targets, show the benefits of modeling to achieve exceptional performance affordably, compare model predictions with monitored performance in multifamily applications, and demonstrate the positive impact of awareness and actionable energy data on occupant behavior;
  • “Keeping Occupants Happy and Healthy Through Affordable and Flexible Air and Water Control Strategies,” which will offer hidden opportunities for improving home energy and environmental performance, including inexpensive filtration and water system design; and
  • “ASHRAE’s Duct Size Calculator Tool for Easy, Reliable Residential Duct Sizing,” which will discuss the research and methodology underlying the calculator tool and provide demonstrations and examples of how to use it.

The refrigerant track seminars include:

  • “Lubricant Changes for Low-GWP Next Generation Equipment,” which will focus on lubricant changes and challenges needed for next generation refrigerants and replacement for R-123, R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A;
  • “Some Low-GWP Next Generation Refrigerants Will Be Flammable: What Does It Mean to Be Flammable?,” which will cover the fundamentals of flammability, issues in handling flammable refrigerants, and ASHRAE- and industry-funded research into flammable refrigerants;
  •  “Next Generation of Lower or Low-GWP Next Generation HVACR Equipment,” which will focus on the types of new equipment offered with lower-GWP refrigerants as well as the retrofitting of equipment with high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with lower-GWP refrigerants; and
  • “Contaminant Control: What is the Same and What is New When Using Low-GWP Refrigerants?,” which will cover the contaminant control needs and differences to prepare for when using next generation low-GWP refrigerant-containing products. 


The 2018 ASHRAE Conference will offer technical tours of the following facilities:

  • The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) Lab is a nonprofit corporation that researches and develops new energy technologies with an emphasis on the distribution and use of natural gas. GTI’s 18-acre headquarters in metro Chicago is home to a flexible combination of specialized labs with equipment for design, testing, and analysis of advanced energy technologies.
  • The Method Home soap manufacturing plant uses clean energy, water, and materials to create innovative household products. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-Platinum manufacturing facility features a refurbished 230-foot, 600 kW on-site wind turbine, as well as a 46 kW photovoltaic farm and solar thermal heated domestic hot water. The factory is heated with 100-percent efficient direct-fired air handling units, and office spaces utilize demand control ventilation (DCV).
  • 340 On The Park is a 62-story, luxury, multifamily high rise constructed in 2007, which recently moved away from district cooling to a stand-alone plant. Initial energy modeling and analysis indicated the building could reduce its annual operating costs by just under $500,000. The chillers are anticipated to provide a return on investment (ROI) in less than 10 years and to increase property values. Construction began in March 2016 and culminated in two 16-foot-long, 500-ton chillers being placed on the top floor in June 2016.
  • Not long ago, The Plant was an abandoned 93,500-square-foot industrial space and pork processing facility. Now, it’s a working model for closing waste, resource, and energy loops. The facility will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year while providing enough electricity to power over 250 homes. The tour will include The Plant’s closed-loop tech demonstration projects up close, like an aquaponics farm and algae bioreactor.

Publication date: 1/8/2017

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