Last year I attended my first AHR Expo at the Dallas Convention Center. In the months leading up to my trip, I was curious what the big draw was to an event for people in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) business. People from around the country — even the world — were excited about AHR. In fact, our most widely downloaded webinar was our AHR Preview from 2012. (So, of course, we had to do a 2014 AHR Preview Webinar.)

When I arrived at the show, I understood. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Industry professionals from every sector were there — architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, technicians, building owners, facility managers, building officials, manufacturer representatives, wholesalers, distributors, purchasing agents, students, instructors, editors, publishers…I could go on and on and on.

It was the granddaddy of all HVACR tradeshows. I walked through aisles and aisles…and aisles…of exhibitor booths with companies showcasing everything from thermal imaging cameras to chemical cleaning solutions to heat transfer fluid evaluation software (huh?). And there was training…lots of training. Educational sessions on everything from high-performance building design to energy modeling best practices to building design trends.

Now, with the 2014 AHR Expo just around the corner (Jan. 21-23, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York), I decided to do a little research. In its 85th year, the 2014 AHR Expo is ramping up to be the biggest event in its history with 38,000 buyers, 1,900 exhibiting companies, 34 sponsoring and endorsing associations, 140 education sessions and visitors from 131 countries.

So what brings more and more people and companies back each year? Energy-efficient technologies and sustainable building innovations, that’s what. Professionals are realizing that fierce competition weeds out the weak — and no one wants to be left behind. Shows like AHR are offering a hub for professionals to network, learn and grow in an industry that is moving fast with technologies that are changing the way we spec, design, bid and build a project.

So what’s on tap for AHR 2015? See you there in Chicago to find out!