New York State of Mind: 7 Days at the 2014 ASHRAE Winter Conference & AHR Expo
Posted 1/31/2014 by Devin Abellon
Uponor just wrapped up a wildly successful week in New York City, participating in the 2014 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo. A large contingent of Uponorians descended on the Big Apple, each with their own set of hectic schedules and agendas. Here are some highlights of some of the things that I had the opportunity to participate in.
Day 1: Friday
Friday started with an early morning meeting with ASHRAE staff to discuss options for new member training videos. As chair of ASHRAE’s Membership Chapter Training and Development sub-committee, I pulled together a list of potential topics to have ready by the Annual Meeting in June. One thing was certain – we were determined to avoid the format used in the infamous ASHRAE rap video “License to Chill – Ain’t Cool to be Hot.” If you get a chance to see it…don’t.
We then had our Membership Committee sub-committee meetings, which lasted the rest of the day, followed by our committee dinner at the nearby Rosie O’Gradys, one of just a few Irish pubs located in New York’s Midtown.
Day 2: Saturday
Our Membership Committee main meeting ran from 8am – 3pm. Here we discussed a number of motions, such as potential revisions to ASHRAE’s membership grades, and our upcoming centralized trainings in Seattle and Spain. As the Region X Regional Vice Chair for membership promotion, I represented the issues of the members in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. This position gives me access to and allows me to interact with engineers and contractors within the region to develop and nurture relationships in a “non-sales” setting.
After the committee meeting, the Winter Conference officially kicked off with the plenary session. The session was highlighted by a fabulous keynote address by Mark Sanborn, author of the bestselling book The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. The session also included the awards ceremony, where McKinstry Mechanical received a First Place Technology Award for the SIERR at McKinstry Station project, a LEED-Gold historic renovation that features Uponor radiant heating and cooling!
After the plenary session, I had the opportunity to participate in the Young Engineers of ASHRAE (YEA)/Student Mixer, where engineering students were given the chance to network with industry professionals to explore future career paths.
Day 3: Sunday
Day Three kicked off with the ASHRAE Student Program. This year, ASHRAE brought over 400 of the best and brightest engineering students from around the world to learn more about the future of the HVAC industry. I was honored to present the technical portion of the program, training the future generation of engineers on radiant cooling!
I then made a quick appearance at the New Member Reception, before settling in for our TC6.5 sub-committee meetings. Technical Committee 6.5 is the committee that oversees ASHRAE’s position on Convective Space Heating and Radiant Heating and Cooling. It is comprised of industry professionals, including Peter Simmonds (Bangkok Airport, Cooper Union, Water and Life Museum), Peter Rumsey (Pier 15 Exploratorium, City College SF), Robert Bean, and representatives from industry leaders such as Uponor, Rehau, Viega, Twa, and Legend. We had a great meeting with representatives from the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) who had been publishing research that seemed to contradict the work of the committee on the energy efficiency of radiant systems. In the end, it was simply a misinterpretation of some of the terms used by the researchers. It was a good example of the difference between the world of academia and the “real world.”
Day Three ended with our joint Region X/XI dinner, where I got to catch up with a lot of the local engineers and contractors from California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, as well as our friends from the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. Because these regions include both San Francisco and Seattle, it made for a night of high emotion as we watched the NFC Championship game unfold on the restaurant’s television. We even had a $1,000 “squares game,” where half of the proceeds went to support ASHRAE research.
Day 4: Monday
After a few technical sessions, I headed to Javit’s Convention Center to preview Uponor’s AHR booth. WOW! The booth was amazing, a dramatic departure from what Uponor has shown in the past.
I then headed back to the conference for our TC6.5 main meeting. As Programs sub-committee chair, I solicited ideas for technical seminars for our upcoming conference in Seattle. We had some great ideas of ways to continue to spread the message of radiant heating and cooling to the engineering community. Because we were able get most of our work done during the sub-committee meetings, the meeting was relatively short. Looking forward to Seattle, when the committee will be chaired by our very own Him Ly!!
After the meetings wrapped up, I had the opportunity to attend a number of receptions hosted by the San Diego Chapter of ASHRAE, Florida Heat Pump, and Danfoss – a great chance to enjoy time and network with the leaders of our industry.
Day 5: Tuesday
On Tuesday morning, I was honored to chair Technical Seminar 33: “Optimized Control Strategies for Chilled Beams and Radiant Panels.” The session featured speakers Robert Bean, Ken Loudermilk (Trox), and Peter Simmonds, and received a very positive response from the standing room only crowd of over 150 attendees.
I then had a productive meeting with SGL Group, who manufactures radiant ceiling panels for Uponor in Europe. Could this work in North America?
Then it was off to the convention center for the AHR Expo. My intent was to get to the show early so that I could walk some of it prior to my afternoon shift. Those plans were derailed thanks to a blizzard that dumped 10 inches of snow on the city and crippled the city’s transit system.
Once I got to the booth, I was blown away with the activity there. The booth was packed with engineers, contractors, wholesalers, media, and our own reps and partners (along with some of our not-so-happy competitors!) Our focus on commercial piping, especially the use of PEX for hydronic distribution, was a dramatic shift in what we’ve shown before and in what AHR attendees were used to seeing from us. We definitely had an impact! I had the chance to meet up with some of our media partners who were excited about what Uponor had to offer and were anxious to push our message to their readers and viewers.
After a hectic day at AHR, it was off to what was supposed to be another round of receptions. The blizzard definitely hampered mobility around the city, so I ended up settling in at the LG Reception, which featured a big band and swing dancing. There, I met with contractors and engineers from San Francisco (Western Allied, Interface, and Arup), as well as engineers from Arup’s New York office.
Day 6: Wednesday
Another great day at the AHR Expo! Great contacts and conversations with engineers and contractors looking for solutions to be more competitive!
After a hectic day at the show, we took some time to unwind. I was able to meet up with some Region X friends at Tonic Karaoke Bar, where a growing contingent of Uponorians was also gathering, showing off their amazing vocal talents – we always knew that we could make and sell the best PEX in North America, but we can sing too?! Wow!!
Day 7: Thursday
Final day at the AHR Expo. I managed to walk a good portion of the show, taking a look at some of the innovations in the HVAC marketplace. It was exciting to see all the work that is being done to create better, more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable buildings and it was gratifying to see how Uponor is a part of it all.
All in all, it was a fantastic week of training and networking. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in ASHRAE and AHR. New York is an amazing city. So many great experiences and so many great opportunities.
So that was my week in a nutshell.
Now, I’m going to sleep