The 2008 AHR Expo in New York City gave the event its best attendance ever. Photo courtesy of the International Exposition Co.

Where is the AHR Expo being held this year? If you answered “Chicago,” you’re right. Actually, if you always answer “Chicago,” you have a one-in-three chance of being correct, because the world’s largest annual heating and air-conditioning extravaganza heads to Illinois’ largest city every three years. There’s a good reason: the expo’s most successful

shows are typically at the city’s massive McCormick Place convention hall. Record-setting attendance is always a possibility. When the AHR Expo last visited Chicago in 2006, the U.S. economy was much different. With the

stock market falling and the nation entering a recession, it remains to be seen just how many contractors will come out for this must-see show.

But show organizers, the International Exposition Co., are still bullish on the event, slated for Jan. 26-28.

“Chicago has always been a great location for the show because the area has such a wealth of top HVACR companies and professionals within a 200-mile radius,” said International Exposition Co. President Clay Stevens.

Reflecting the industry and public’s continuing interest in sustainable or so-called green building, this year’s expo will again feature a bevy of energy-efficient products and several seminars on the subject.

“Industry knowledge of sustainability is growing and it’s critical for us to tell our ‘green’ story,” said Lochinvar marketing manager Stirling Boston. “Attending AHR Expo allows us to help our customers understand that commitment to the environment.”

As part of that effort, expo organizers made many of their promotional materials available online only this year, saving the energy and paper required to print and ship copies.

“As a leading information resource for the HVACR industry, it is critical that the AHR Expo keep its attendees on the cutting edge of the latest green products and issues,” Stevens said.

And reflecting longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s commitment to green building, McCormick Place now uses many recycled products throughout the facility.

Also held in conjunction with the expo is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ winter meeting.

When attendees are not canvassing the massive show floor, a number of educational seminars will be held. Here is a list of some of them.

Expo courses

This year’s courses sponsored by the AHR Expo are all about green building and sustainability. While more courses will be announced closer to show time, many of the scheduled sessions will take a look at green technology.

There are costs associated with some of these courses, and attendees can register online in advance or on-site. For more information on registration and course fees,

“LEED Implementation for Building Operations and Maintenance” will be offered at 8 a.m. Jan. 26. The U.S. Green Building Council will present this course, which takes a look at the implementation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for 2009.

The course will offer LEED project strategies and information on the new version of LEED, as well as ways to successfully work toward certification. The USGBC recommends that attendees have participated in “Green Building Basics and LEED” and “LEED v2009: Credit Categories and Intents” before taking this course.

At 8:30 a.m. Jan. 26, the Green Mechanical Council will present “GreenSpeak: The Language and Culture of Green.” According to organizers, this three-hour workshop will provide definitions of commonly used phrases and words in the green field. It will also take a look at some of the trends that are making sustainable design more mainstream.

The Partnership for Environmental Leadership will bring its HVAC mobile green classroom right on to the show floor. This 44-foot long mobile classroom is equipped with a number of simulators and video screens to provide individuals with hands-on lessons in green building.

The six organizations that comprise the Patnership for Environmental Leadership, including the United Association and the Mechanical Contractors Association, will provide various free sessions throughout the three-day AHR Expo.

More information on the mobile classroom can be found

Attendees will also have an opportunity to take North American Technician Excellence exams Jan. 26. A review course begins at 8:30 a.m., with the exam beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Those interested in the NATE exam are asked to register at the NATE Web site,

ASHRAE sessions

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, a co-sponsor of the AHR Expo, will also hold its winter meeting Jan. 24-28. The theme of this year’s ASHRAE meeting is “Sustainable Urban Design: Engineering Tomorrow… Today.”

These ASHRAE courses are planned for Jan. 25:

“Laboratory Testing of Duct Fittings to Determine Loss Coefficients” will begin at 8 a.m. The program is based on a program initiated by ASHRAE to determine the friction factor in circular corrugated galvanized spiral ducts. This session will present the results of that project.

“Air Filtration for Sustainable Buildings” will be offered at 1:30 p.m. This session will examine why particle filtration is important in protecting building occupants, HVAC equipment and indoor surfaces. It will also take a look at what factors need to be considered when looking at the sustainability of filtration equipment. These factors include energy costs associated with filtration, lifecycle costs, productivity impacts associated with filtration, and more.

These seminars are planned for Jan. 26:

“Energy Savings with In-Duct UV-C” will start at 8 a.m. The session will aim to explain how C-band ultraviolet radiation has been shown to prevent microbial growth on surfaces, particularly air-handling unit coils. ASHRAE officials explain that UV-C knowledge is anecdotal and performance data is complicated by changing environmental conditions and HVAC system responses. A forum will be presented to discuss the approach and installation of UV-C systems.

At 9:45 a.m. will be “Innovations in Mechanical Systems for High Rise Buildings.” Designers of recent Chicago high-rise buildings will be on hand to discuss the strategies and technologies they used.

A similar session called “Sustainability in the Urban Environment” will be at 3 p.m. This public session will present the work performed in both northern and southern cities.

Suzanne Malec-McKenna from the city of Chicago’s sustainability program is scheduled to discuss the program and how it has been successful in getting residents to work toward a common green goal. The electric utility company in the city of Austin, Texas, is working with local government and industry to develop a sustainability program. Maureen Scanlon will discusses the advancements the city has made toward its green goal.

Douglas Farr will discuss his book, which addresses sustainable urban design. He will also give attendees an update on the proposed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for neighborhood development certification program.

At 8 a.m. Jan 27, “Can Air Cleaning Reduce Ventilation Rate Required for Acceptable IAQ?” This session will present the technologies that can be used to remove pollutants from outdoor and indoor sources in an effort to reduce the ventilation rate required and save energy without lowering indoor air quality.

At 9:45 a.m. “Is ASHRAE Prepared to Adapt to Climate Change?” ASHRAE explains that its design guides have been developed based on historical statistics of climate and weather.  ASHRAE has set sustainability goals of moving to 30 percent more efficient buildings and eventually to net-zero energy buildings. But if designed based on present data, can buildings and equipment perform as desired through their lifetime? And how should ASHRAE prepare for a climate that has changed and is still changing?

“Methods of Reducing the Impact of Energy Use on Air Cleaning Devices” will be offered at 1:30 p.m. Industrial air cleaning devices use considerable energy due to their high static pressure. This seminar will look at ways to reduce the energy required for air cleaning devices.

At 3:15 p.m. will be “Minimum Humidity Specification for Sustainability and Comfort.” ASHRAE officials explain that the lower humidity limit recommendation was removed from the ASHRAE standard “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy.” This has resulted in confusion within the industry and a potentially negative impact on overall sustainability. This forum discusses the engineering needs for setting a lower humidity specification in buildings.

“Basics of Load Calculation” will be presented at 9 a.m. Jan 28. This seminar will review the basics of load calculations. The first topic will be on overview of what is a room load and the components of a room load. Other topics will include a discussion of plenums and how to take them into account in load calculations, an examination of solar loads and the effects of shading on loads, and the effects of thermal bridging on load calculations.

“Low Carbon Cities: Present and Future” will be presented at 12 p.m. This session will explain why modern cities need to plan for low and zero carbon futures in order to survive. Presenters will aim to show how cities around the world are accepting the challenge. 

Also at 12 p.m. is “Leveraging Tools and Processes for Successful Projects: Building Information Modeling and Integrated Project Delivery.” Building information modeling and integrated project delivery building information modeling will be discussed and how it has become a useful collaboration tool. Attendees will find out the advantages of BIM tools and the value of the IPD process, while using the two to produce an efficient workflow.

For more information on ASHRAE sessions,

Product sneak peek

Many manufacturers like to use the AHR Expo as an opportunity to give attendees the first look at its new products, keeping information under wraps until the day of the show.

But other manufacturers can’t wait to show off their latest technologies. Here are some of the manufacturers who are giving an advance preview of the products they will have on display at this year’s AHR Expo.

Permatron Corp.has introduced the PreVent air-intake filter, which the company claims stops debris from entering any type of equipment and clogging up the system. A washable, UV protected filter helps to reduce equipment maintenance, downtime and frequent chemical cleanings.  The company also reports that the filter requires no system modifications or electrical hookups.  Custom made to the air-intake perimeter, a variety of design features allow the filter to be attached securely.

Fenwal Controlshas achieved international agency approvals for its reengineered 35-6X Series of 24-volt gas ignition controls. Fenwal officials claim that with these broad international approvals, a single ignition control is suitable for gas-fired appliances intended for distribution anywhere in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

The series includes a standard direct spark ignition control, a direct spark ignition control with combustion blower relay, and intermittent pilot/spark-to-pilot control. All models can be configured to the specific purge and trial-for-ignition timings, and feature a system diagnostic LED and flame sense test pins.

Colmac Coil has introduced water source heat pump water heaters for commercial and industrial users of portable hot water. 

According to the company, the product features the latest in energy saving technology and is designed for indoor or outdoor applications. The Colmac heat pumps also use the environmentally friendly refrigerant R-134A.

The heat pumps are ideal for facilities that depend upon large quantities of hot water such as hotels, condominiums, hospitals, laundries, institutions, and restaurants. Depending on the temperature of the heat source supplied to the heat pump, Colmac claims that water can be heated using one-third to one-quarter of the energy required by electric resistance or gas.

The new ICM492 single-phase, digital line voltage monitor and the ICM333 head pressure control are the latest products fromICM Controls.

The ICM492 protects single-phase equipment against low- and high-voltage conditions and rapid short-cycling. Complete with backlit digital display, the ICM492 monitors and displays real-time voltage with the ability to field-adjust parameters at the push of a button. Users can continuously monitor the ICM492’s incoming line and RMS voltage.

The ICM333 head pressure control operates as a pressure or temperature-sensitive motor fan speed control, regulating head pressure by varying the amount of airflow through the condenser. By allowing for dual probes, the ICM333 is ideal for a wide range of systems, including single-fan, multi-coil systems.

Ideal for use in low-ambient conditions, the ICM333 is useful in supermarkets and frozen food storage, computer rooms and cooling tower fans, and many other temperature and humidity-sensitive environments.