Trying something new can always be risky, but the AHR Expo is placing a bet that its 2011 show will be a huge success.

For the first time in the expo’s 100-year history, the annual HVACR trade show will run Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Organizers say they expect the gamble will have a large payoff. In fact, as organizers continue to prepare for the event, signs are pointing to a successful event.

“The 2011 AHR Expo is shaping up to be a very strong event. With more than 1,800 exhibiting companies and 371,000 square feet of exhibit space already reserved, the 2011 event will be the largest Western show we’ve ever had,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co., the organization responsible for the expo. “The 2011 event is already 14 percent larger and has 10 percent more exhibiting companies than the Anaheim (Calif.) show in 2004 with several weeks left before the Jan. 31 opening.”

Energy efficiency

Not only is the AHR Expo placing its bets on a new location, but also a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency and green technology. This year’s show will feature a “green trailer” sponsored by the United Association. The trailer will be on the show floor, and will highlight sustainable products and technologies that can be used to help a building achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Solar energy will also play a major role in this year’s AHR Expo. Not only will there be several solar products on display, but a number of educational sessions geared toward solar applications.

“Solar is one of the fastest-growing segments of the many sustainable technologies featured at the show,” Stevens said. “At least 54 companies we know of will be featuring solar products. ASHRAE and other leading industry organizations have created special solar educational sessions for AHR Expo, and the U.A. green trailer will be providing ongoing solar demonstrations.”

In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers will hold its annual winter meeting alongside the AHR Expo Jan. 29-Feb. 2. The theme for ASHRAE’s winter meeting is “Zero-energy design: A safe bet.”

ASHRAE will present several educational sessions, many of them on net-zero building and design.

“Achieving better energy efficiency and achieving greater sustainability will once again be the focus of many attendees,” Stevens said. “And they won’t be disappointed as there will be hundreds of energy-efficient products from around the world on display and dozens of educational sessions dealing with all facets of those issues.”

Educational sessions

Here is a rundown of the sessions that will be presented at this year’s AHR Expo.

Sessions starting at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 31 include:

“HVAC Duct Construction.” This session from the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association will present HVAC duct construction standards for commercial and institutional applications. Rectangular, round and flat oval duct will be discussed.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., SMACNA will present “A Practical Guide for Reducing Air Leakage to Achieve a Low Energy Design.” Duct construction and air leakage testing will be discussed. Attendees will learn how reducing air leakage can help achieve a net zero energy rating.

At 2: 15 p.m., ASHRAE will also discuss air leakage. The organization will offer “A Practical Guide for Reducing Air Leakage in HVAC Air Systems.” This public session will aim to show contractors how they can successfully reduce air leakage. Duct construction and leak testing will also be topics.

At 2:30 p.m., ASHRAE will offer “Determining Energy Savings from Performance Contracting and LEED Projects.” This session will show attendees how to measure energy savings in a building to achieve LEED certification.

ASHRAE will hold two other sessions at 2:30 p.m.

“The Commissioning Process & Guideline 0” takes a look at ASHRAE Standard 0, which provides the fundamental background of ASHRAE’s commissioning procedures.

“Understanding Standard 189.1-2009 for High-Performance Green Buildings” will introduce the minimum requirements for following the green building standard. Indoor environmental quality, site sustainability and energy efficiency are all topics.

Starting at 3 p.m. is “The Contractor’s Link to ASHRAE.” This SMACNA-hosted session will offer ways that ASHRAE and SMACNA can work together to share common goals and research.

Feb. 1 seminars

Sessions offered Feb. 1 include:

The Green Mechanical Council will sponsor “Heat Load Calculations Made Easy” at 8 a.m. Council officials will show attendees how to perform proper load calculations and how accurate load calculations can help lower bids.

Starting at 9 a.m. will be:

“Energy Modeling Best Practices and Applications (Part 1 of 2)” This ASHRAE session will show how to effectively perform energy modeling on a building. The fundamentals of ASHRAE standard 90.1-performance rating method will be discussed.

“Successful Solar Applications” from ASHRAE will show HVAC engineers and architects how to cost effectively integrate solar applications in their designs.

Sessions at 1 p.m. include:

“Orientation to Energy Auditing.” The Green Mechanical Council will show attendees everything they need to know about energy auditing, including what it is, the types of energy auditing, and how it differs from retro-commissioning.

Starting at 2 p.m.:

“Avoiding IAQ Problems: Using ASHRAE’s New IAQ Guide.” This session will be based on ASHRAE’s IAQ Guide: Best Practices for Design, Construction and Commissioning. The most common indoor air quality issues and how to prevent them will be discussed.

“Designing Toward Net-Zero Energy Commercial Buildings.” ASHRAE defines a net-zero building as one that annually uses no more energy from the utility grid than what is produced from onsite energy sources. ASHRAE officials share information on how net-zero buildings can be achieved, including building design strategies and energy products.

At 2:15 p.m., ASRHAE will host “What You Need to Know about the Energy Standard for Buildings – ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010.” In this public session, ASHRAE will provide information on its standard called “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.” According to ASHRAE, changes to this standard will have a major impact on the building envelope, lighting and mechanical requirements.

For more information on the AHR Expo or ASHRAE’s winter meeting,

Expo makes way to Las Vegas for first time

No matter how many times you have been to Las Vegas, you can be sure there will be something new to see or do.

This city is always changing and re-inventing itself. Recently celebrating its first 100 years, Las Vegas has gone through several incarnations. It started as a dusty cowboy town, became a gambling mecca for the Rat Pack generation, for a while tried being a family-friendly vacation spot, and now it’s one of the top entertainment destinations in the world with a decidedly adult bent.

Even if you don’t bet a nickel, today’s Las Vegas offers numerous recreation opportunities. Perhaps that’s part of the reason it’s among the top U.S. convention locations. The AHR Expo, however, has never visited before. It’s Jan. 31-Feb.2 trade show will be the first time the event has come to southern Nevada.

If you haven’t been to Sin City in years, there’s been a flurry of new construction and attractions opened in recent years, although the recession has slowed the city’s evolution. New developments, such as the CityCenter complex, are going up, and older ones, such as the Westward Ho, New Frontier and Stardust hotels, have come down. Even one of the newer properties, the Aladdin, opened in 2000, was turned into a Planet Hollywood-brand hotel a few years ago.

One of the biggest hotel projects to open in recent years is the Wynn, an upscale property from Steve Wynn, the man many credit for reviving Las Vegas in the late 1980s with the Mirage, and later Treasure Island and the Bellagio.

The Wynn hotel sits adjacent to an 18-hole golf course. Packed with restaurants and nightclubs, the resort has already proven itself one of the city’s most popular. So popular, in fact, that Wynn built a twin hotel, called Encore, next door.

Here’s a list of some of the city’s other major attractions. Some are newer; others are longtime favorites. Many are free.

For visual splendor - and the brightly lit Las Vegas Strip has plenty of it - few can match the Fountains at Bellagio. These water-jets shoot 200 feet into the air from the lagoon in front of the hotel several times daily, weather permitting. The fountains, which are lit at night, move in computer-controlled precision with music.

Treasure Island, one of several highly themed casinos to open during Vegas’ flirtation with family entertainment, is now known as TI. It’s long offered a staged pirate battle, complete with swashbuckling buccaneers and cannon fire. In recent years, as the city has returned to its adult-oriented roots, the show has been re-christened “The Sirens of TI.” This new show features female pirates, rock music and is as popular as ever.

Downtown Las Vegas has struggled to attract tourists who prefer to stay and play at the newer, showier resorts on the Strip. But “old Vegas” offers plenty of character, in addition to low-limit gambling for those on a budget. Several years ago, the portion of Fremont Street closest to the major hotels was closed to auto traffic and a huge canopy erected over it. The Freemont Street Experience is the result. The area is now a pedestrian gambling mall with a regular overhead light-and-sound show after dusk. Recently renovated, it features dancing images on thousands of lights set to a pulsing sound system.

For an inexpensive tour, ride the monorail. The $650 million, 4-mile-long, seven-station Las Vegas Monorail opened in 2004 after almost a decade of planning. It runs from the MGM Grand at the south end of the Strip, up to the historic Sahara hotel and casino. It also makes a detour to stop at the Las Vegas Convention Center - home to this year’s AHR Expo - and nearby Las Vegas Hilton. It offers an easy, inexpensive way to get around the most popular parts of the city.