ASHRAE, AHR Expo return to Chicago for possible record show

When AHR Expo exhibitors and visitors are asked about their "best" shows, the ones with the most booth visitors and exciting new products, one city is mentioned often - Chicago. The Second City in January isn't the first one that comes to mind when many convention planners are picking host locations - but the AHR Expo is no ordinary convention.

The "world's fair of HVAC products" loves the Windy City so much, it altered its show schedule in 2001 to hold the expo here every three years. Chicago has traditionally hosted the biggest AHR events, including record-setters in 1995 and 2003. Officials with the International Exposition Co., which manages the annual event, said they expect this year's Jan. 23-25 show at McCormick Place convention center to meet or break current records.

In addition to the thousands of new products expected to be on display, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers holds its annual winter meeting in conjunction with the event. The society's activity schedule includes 62 symposiums, 26 open forums and a public session. Most of the ASHRAE-sponsored sessions take place at the Palmer House Hilton downtown.

Here is an overview of some of the planned sessions. For updated listings, go to


At 8 a.m. Jan. 22, sessions scheduled include:

"How Low Can You Go? Low-Energy Buildings Through Integrated Design." This seminar focuses on "green" or "sustainable" buildings and how to assess if they're performing up to expectations. Drury B. Crawley of the U.S. Department of Energy will lead the discussion. Six projects will be profiled. "Field Results for UV Systems." Led by energy consultant Morton H. Blatt, this session will tackle the germ-killing effectiveness of ultraviolet lights. Some people have questioned the usefulness of the technology. The experiences in offices, hospitals and schools will be featured.

"HVAC-Related Building Systems' Interaction With the Local Environment." ASHRAE member Thomas M. Lawrence, Ph.D., P.E., from the University of Georgia, will discuss how heating and air-conditioning systems affect the outdoors near the buildings that contain them. Acoustics, energy use and cooling towers are among the planned topics. "Design and Equipment Parameters for HVAC in Hazardous Spaces." Many industrial rooms and buildings include flammable or poisonous substances and gases. This session will deal with what special considerations should go into designing HVAC systems for such areas. Michael K. Baucom of Bebco Industries in La Marque, Texas, will moderate. HFCs


At 9 a.m., "Are HFC Systems Leaking More or Less Than Their Predecessors?" will be held. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientist Cynthia L. Gage, Ph.D., will lead this talk about how hydrofluorocarbons react in the environment. Leakage rates of older refrigerants were well known, ASHRAE officials say. However, since being replaced by HFCs, not as much is known about how these newer substances perform. This meeting will examine the evidence.

At 1 p.m. Jan. 22, these two sessions are planned:

"Case Studies in Underfloor Air-Distribution Systems." Led by Jeff J. Traylor of Peregrine Enterprises in Durham, N.C., this session will explore experiences with underfloor systems in the United States and Europe.

"Should ASHRAE Develop a Position Document on HFCs?" ASHRAE's Refrigeration Committee will look at hydrofluorocarbons, which are supposed to be better for the environment, but they have their critics as well. The committee will examine whether ASHRAE should wade into the debate.

At 3:15 p.m., sessions include:

Early equipment start-up

"Owning and Operating Costs of Temporary and Permanent HVAC Equipment During Construction." Bruce B. Lindsay, P.E., of Temp-Air in Burnsville, Minn., will lead this talk on a controversial topic. HVAC systems are often run during construction to keep workers comfortable. However, some experts say starting the systems before everything is ready can lead to mold, dirty ductwork and possibly equipment failure. Several groups, including the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, advise against the practice. The subject will be discussed from different perspectives.

"Project Green Light: The Business Case for Green - You Can Do Well While Doing Good." Long a movement only in socially conscious circles, today "green" buildings are extending into corporate, residential and industrial markets. This session, led by E. Mitchell Swan, P.E., of MDC Systems LLC in Berwyn, Pa., will look at apartments, factories and even university campuses that have gone "green."

"What is the Basis for the Ventilation Rates in ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004?" This session, at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 23, will cover the changes in the society's major IAQ standard since the last updates in 1989, 1999 and 2001. In some situations, ventilation rates are lower, while others are much higher. The rationales behind the moves will be discussed.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail