CHICAGO — This year the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) will be back on its old stomping grounds: McCormick Place. From Jan. 27 – 29, the vast convention center will once again be a temporary home for contractors, engineers, dealers, distributors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and others in the industry who are looking for new products and new ways to do business.

Despite the troubled economy, AHR Expo 2003 is shaping up to be one of the biggest shows of all time. As of press time, 1,500 companies had signed up for the event, according to show management. This total would rank as the second largest in terms of exhibitors.

Although AHR Expo management can’t predict the attendance figures for this year’s event, indications are that it is on track to come close to past attendance records. More than 44,000 attendees (28,500 delegates and 16,000 exhibitor personnel) participated at the 2002 show, and 49,700 attendees (27,470 visitors) were at the 2001 event in Atlanta. The all-time attendance record was 61,109 (36,881 visitors) at Chicago in 1995.

Those visiting the AHR Expo will also want to take the opportunity to attend the 2003 Winter Meeting presented by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). This year’s meeting will focus on existing and emerging technologies that lessen the impact of HVACR on the environment. Ninety-five sessions will be presented at the meeting, which will take place Jan. 25-29 at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton.

AHR Expo And More

It’s going to take a lot of time to get around and see all 1,500 companies that will have booths at the show. Attendees will be able to find products and information ranging from air handlers to zoning, and lots of good stuff in between.

But save enough energy to take advantage of some of the other events taking place. For example, North American Technician Excellence Inc. (NATE), an independent certification program for technicians in the HVAC industry, will again offer certification testing for residential and light commercial HVAC technicians on-site at the event.

Held on Jan. 27 in the convention center, the NATE-sponsored exams will provide technicians with certification testing for five industry specialties: air conditioning, air distribution, gas heating, heat pumps, and oil heating. The testing session will consist of a morning review class (8:30 to 11:30 a.m.) for industry professionals who will be taking the test and for those interested in learning more about the test and the material covered.

The four-hour exam in the afternoon (12:30 to 4:30 p.m.) will consist of the Core exam and a Specialty exam, both of which are required for certification. Technicians should pre-register at the NATE Web site,

The Radiant Panel Association (RPA) will also offer certification testing for radiant system designers and installers at the AHR Expo. The RPA Certification Program recognizes those technicians who demonstrate the experience and skills required to design, install, and maintain quality radiant heating systems. The program is designed to help improve and ensure high performance standards throughout the radiant industry and encourages technicians to seek professional training and continued education.

The RPA Certification Exam begins at 8:00 a.m., Jan. 28, in Room S-106B in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center. The exam takes approximately two hours and is a closed-book test comprising basic radiant knowledge, with specialty questions related to either design or installation. A technician may sit for either a designer or installer certification or may elect to sit for both exams. Pre-registration for the RPA Certification Exam is required. To register, call the RPA at 800-660-7187.

Educational Offerings

Also, be sure to catch some of the free educational sessions that will be offered by AHR Expo, ASHRAE, and several other endorsing associations. The lineup of the 2003 educational sessions features a wide range of topics dealing with the most important industry issues impacting HVACR professionals.

The main purpose of the sessions is to allow attendees to gain a better understanding of the newest trends and technologies impacting the industry, while providing them with the opportunity to find practical solutions to the challenges they face. Industry leaders who are experts in their fields will be presenting information in several different formats.

The educational sessions offered by AHR Expo will cover building automation and control. They include:

  • “Implementing Web-Based Facility Operations,” held Monday, Jan. 27, at 9:00 a.m.;

  • “Improving Occupancy Integration with Web Technology,” held Monday, Jan. 27, at 1:30 p.m.;

  • “Update on Proprietary Perspectives on Interoperability,” held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 9:00 a.m.; and

  • “Nurturing the Necessary Network,” held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 1:30 p.m.

    For more detailed information about what will be presented at the sessions, visit the AHR Expo Web site,

    The AHR Expo will be held at McCormick Place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 27 and 28), and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 29). On-site registration opens at 9:00 a.m. daily. (Registration is open on Sunday, Jan. 26, from noon to 5:00 p.m.).

    ASHRAE Meetings

    If it’s technical information you’re looking for, you’ll definitely want to attend some of the meetings being held by ASHRAE. The technical program will consist of 52 seminars (application-oriented presentations without papers), 13 symposia (presentations with papers on a central subject), 24 open-discussion forums, two technical sessions (paper presentations), a poster session, a public session, and two open sessions. A total of 73 papers will be presented.

    Some of the seminar and forum titles include:

  • “Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems”;

  • “Certified Ratings for Energy Recovery Ventilation: What You Need to Know”;

  • “Mold and Mildew Mitigation in Construction”;

  • “Lubricants for Alternative Refrigerants”;

  • “Water-to-Water Heat Pumps”; and

  • “Geothermal Heat Pumps: Can They Really Cut Energy Use by 70%? And If So, How Do We Measure the Savings?”

    Another interesting seminar that will be offered is an interactive presentation titled “A Day in the Life of a Hacker.” The seminar will address general principles of prevention, detection, and response to network and systems security risks for building automation systems. The presentation challenges the audience to play the roles of a hacker vs. security analyst in a game of measures, attacks, and countermeasures. It will be held Monday, Jan. 27 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The seminar is sponsored by ASHRAE’s technical committees on computer applications and control theory and application.

    As in previous years, ASHRAE will also host a free public session. This year’s session, entitled “Residential and Small Building Humidity and Mold Control,” will take place Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

    This free session will focus on controlling humidity, which is essential for human health, productivity, protecting building components, and minimizing mold growth. Control of residential humidity and mold is increasingly important, so issues related to residential and small building humidity control will be addressed.

    The session will present guidance for the industry and consumers on all aspects of dealing with humidity and mold in residential and small buildings. National experts with skills in medicine, microbiology, law, insurance, and engineering will discuss the causal issues, the medical and legal aspects, how to prevent and deal with mold situations, and recommend solutions.

    Another free presentation being offered by ASHRAE will concern safety issues. In the past, building occupants were primarily concerned with facilities being healthy and comfortable. Following Sept. 11, 2001, safety also became a major focus not only for occupants but for owners and designers as well. The presentation “Environmental Security: An Added Value in Engineering Services” will take place Monday, Jan. 27, at 3:00 p.m. at the Palmer House Hilton. The report will address health, comfort, and environmental security issues involving air, food, and water.

    An open meeting will also be held for users of Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” which is at the core of energy codes throughout the world. Placed under continuous maintenance upon publication of Standard 90.1-1999, the standard was updated in 2001 and is being revised for 2004. The 90.1 Project Committee will hold this free public session to describe current efforts to improve the standard, and get feedback and suggestions from users of the standard. The meeting is open to all the standard stakeholders, engineers, architects, code officials, manufacturers, and contractors. ASHRAE meeting registration is not required.

    Registration for the ASHRAE 2003 Winter Meeting is $590. For more information or to

    register, visit the organization’s Web site,

    Publication date: 01/13/2003