The AHR Expo is back and more educational than ever with over 280 free educational sessions, close to 200 product presentations, and 1,700 booth exhibitors. Thousands of HVACR industry professionals will gather this year at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia this February 6-8.

With upcoming regulations, the IRA tax credits, and increased focus on IAQ, decarbonization, and energy efficiency, there’s more being asked of the HVACR industry than ever before.

“Which is a great position for the industry to be in. But it’s also kind of a scary one,” said Nicole Bush, press officer for AHR. “There’s a lot of things happening at the same time.”

This year’s AHR responds with ample show floor-time, an “amping up” of education sessions and panel discussions, product/innovation presentations, and plenty of time to network.

“People say [AHR] is like six months to a year of classroom instruction stuffed into three days.”
Nicole Bush
Press Officer, AHR

Education at AHR

The AHR Expo is literally a contractor’s playground, Bush said.

“People say [AHR] is like six months to a year of classroom instruction stuffed into three days.”

Contractors will have the opportunity to get their hands on new innovations and products fresh on the market and see how they work, why they work, and where they fit into their applications. There will be a Podcast Pavilion, where industry podcasters will get the chance to interview guests in person, and attendees can grab a seat if they would like to watch/listen in. Bush said there’s even a bar in between the pavilions.

Pre-pandemic, a shift in the HVACR industry had already begun, but COVID exasperated it, Bush said. Since then, the industry has been rapidly evolving. With that came the expansion of the education at AHR, and there’s three parts to how that’s happening this year.

The first way is by spilling over the education sessions, panel discussions, and product presentations into Wednesday, the last day of the show, which hasn’t been done at AHR in quite some time. It provides an opportunity for attendees to attend more and a larger variety of the sessions, and still have plenty of time on the show floor. In the past, Wednesday were reserved for closed trainings, etc.

The second part is giving the manufacturers an opportunity to do product presentations that are different than the educational opportunities offered. The product presentations are specific to a product or innovation and basically give a crash course on what the product is, how it functions, how it fits into HVAC contractors/technicians applications, and where to find it.

A typical Expo has about 100 of those; this year, there’s close to 200 — hence the spillover into Wednesday.

The third way education is expanding at AHR this year is due to what COVID provided the industry. Last year was AHR’s first year back since COVID, and Bush said it just had a different feeling about it. But a good opportunity came from it — the awareness of the necessity of the HVACR industry. And so panel series and education sessions have been rounded out in a more robust way in response to that.

A few to look forward to:


Monday, February 6 from 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Communication Across the Supply Chain: Mapping the Channel and Flow of Information

Location: Auditorium C102

Speakers: Francis Dietz, vice president of public affairs at the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); Rich Schuster, co-founder at The HVAC Jerks podcast; Zachary Perge, vice president - distribution strategies at HARDI.

A zoned in conversation on the communication throughout the supply chain, which came from Bush’s experience with contractors and technicians who are frustrated about the communication — or lack thereof — regarding the new regulations hitting January 1.

“Communication across the chain is something that has to be more open flow, and attending events like AHR Expo, where you literally have the entire industry there at your fingertips … you can attend education sessions that are talking about it with representation from varying members of the supply chain.”


Tuesday, February 7 from 10:00-11:00 a.m.: HVACR State of the Industry Leadership Panel Discussion: Today’s Market, Challenges, Opportunities, and What’s Ahead

Location: Auditorium C102

Moderator: Bryan Orr, founder of the HVAC School

Presenters: Talbot Gee, CEO at HARDI; Dominick Guarino, CEO at the National Comfort Institute (NCI); Farooq Mehboob, president of American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); Stephen Yurek, AHRI president and CEO; and Chuck White, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC-NA).

“It’s a nice way to hear a very comprehensive conversation from all angles … and it also forecasts what's on the radar for the year ahead. So you can make smart planning decisions and figure out what you need to prepare for,” Bush said.


Tuesday, February 7 from 1:00-2:00p.m.: Decarbonization and the Future of HVAC

Location: C102 Auditorium

Presenters: Donald Horn, FAIA, LEED Fellow U.S. GSA, deputy director at Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings; Kent Peterson, PE, FASHRAE, vice president and COO at P2S Inc; Kevin Edstrom, MEP manager, conceptual construction at Hines; Luke Leung, principal at Skimore, Owings & Merrill.

Moderator: The ACHR NEWS’ very own Kyle Gargaro.


Wednesday, February 8 at 10:00-11:00 a.m.: HVAC & Social Media: Strengthening the Trade with a Community Mindset

Location: C102 Auditorium

Presenters: Aaron Bond, @bond_aaron; Chris Stephens, @hvacrvideos; Eric Aune, @mechanicalhub; Jamie Christensen, @northwest_hvac; Jeff DeMassari, @jeffjdemhvac; Jessica Bannister, @hvacjess; Michael Flynn, @flynnstone1; Omar Harris, @omartheplumber; Rachel Sylvain, @hvacrara

Moderator: Ben Poole, @hvactactical.

Social media was hot in the HVAC industry even a few years ago, and it’s only gotten hotter since. It’s sort of become a brotherhood/sisterhood community, Bush said. It’s now become almost a necessity.


Trends to Watch For at the Show

As the HVAC industry and homeowners alike prioritize energy efficiency and clean air, major trends at this year’s show (and in the industry thereafter) will be decarbonization, electrification, IAQ, and refrigerant regulations, according to Danfoss, enVerid, Heatcraft, and Johnson Controls.

“Our industry has never been more relevant,” said Lisa Tryson, director corporate communications and PR at Danfoss North America.

Bob Landi, vice president and general manager at Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, said manufacturers are developing and introducing systems to help contractors keep their customers compliant.

There’s also a growing interest and advancement in the industry of heat pump technology.

“Incentives such as the Inflation Reduction Act create a strong value proposition to gain customer buy-in,” said David Budzinski, president, global residential & light commercial, Johnson Controls.

Christian Weeks, CEO of enVerid Systems, is hearing that MEPs and contractors are keen for more integrated solutions that can be layered together to achieve building goals — and achieve them at the right price.

“The future is about achieving good IAQ while lowering carbon emissions, and this requires holistic approaches for the most sustainable and cost effective designs.”

The industry is looking for “future-proof” innovations to reach decarbonization goals, especially as they move toward low-GWP refrigerants, Tryson said.

Landi said HFCs are on the way out and low-GWP substitutes are on the way in. With so many varying state regulations, it’s important everyone in the HVACR industry is trained and educated.

While these advances present their challenges, they also present opportunities for contractors to better serve in their business and expand it. And AHR provides an opportunity for them to learn more about it.

“It’s an exciting year to be in HVAC,” said Budzinski. “Innovation is at the forefront, with new product development being driven by stringent energy efficiency requirements and a widespread demand to increase sustainability and lower operational costs — both from homeowners and commercial building professionals.”