ASHRAE’s annual conference gathered nearly 1,800 members June 25-29 in St. Louis to discuss what lies ahead for the HVAC industry. 

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ event featured two full-day professional development seminars, eight half-day courses from the society’s learning institute and a keynote address from 2016-2017 ASHRAE President Timothy Wentz, who also heads the society’s board of directors and executive committee.

The theme of his speech, “Adapt today to shape tomorrow,” is based on the goal laid out in ASHRAE’s strategic plan and his personal experience of the challenges and opportunities inherent in adapting to new technology, such as moving from using a slide rule to a hand calculator and now a computer or smartphone. 

“When it comes to change, we tend to ‘hang on’ to what feels safe as long as possible,” said Wentz, who is also a licensed professional engineer. “When we can’t see the future, we don’t know how far we will fall. That can be frightening. We must work to shape tomorrow, so we feel empowered to ‘let go.’” 

As part of the conference’s technical program, 100 sessions with 400 speakers were offered to attendees. Popular sessions included exploring the philosophy and ethics of different building industry professionals and a seminar featuring two teams who debated whether productivity can be measured.

ASHRAE also announced its 2015-16 research-promotion campaign reached $2.57 million thanks to donations from members, chapters and companies. The funds are used to support ongoing research projects, the learning institute and Young Engineers in ASHRAE Leadership activities and scholarships.