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‘We are headed back to Las Vegas with a vengeance’

ATLANTA, Georgia, 1 July 2021: ASHRAE hosted its 2021 Virtual Annual Conference from June 28 to 30, which the Society said saw 970 virtual global registrants exploring topics related to critical environments, building operation and maintenance, and plant and animal environments.

According to ASHRAE, the conference featured over 100 live and on-demand sessions with updates from Society leaders and virtual networking events. Top sessions included Fundamentals of Climate Change (Seminar 1), Keynote: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Built Environment: Update on ASHRAE’s Response and the Meeting of the Members, ASHRAE said.

According to ASHRAE, other highly attended sessions included topics on IAQ, energy efficiency and ASHRAE standards. “The 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Annual Conference brought our community of industry professionals together for a full slate of highly relevant and valuable content,” said 2021-22 ASHRAE President, Mick Schwedler. “The conference provided an opportunity to learn, share, and explore new ways to translate research and knowledge into built environment solutions that impact everyone. We are truly fortunate to be a part of this strong community that supports each other to accomplish great things. It is the power of this community that will propel us to future successes.”

According to ASHRAE, Day One included a final State of the Society and farewell address from 2020-21 ASHRAE President, Charles E. Gulledge III, as well as a Secretary’s Report from ASHRAE Executive Vice President and Society Secretary, Jeff Littleton.

“Plans for the January 2022 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo in Las Vegas are well underway, and if you have any doubts about whether the industry is ready to reconvene in January, let me share some facts with you,” Littleton said. “Fully 90% of the 498,000 net square feet of AHR Expo exhibit space available in Las Vegas is already sold. That’s 1,200 exhibiting companies already under contract. We may have had to cancel the show and the face-to-face Winter Conference this past January, but we are headed back to Las Vegas with a vengeance. Put it on your calendar today – January 29th to February 2nd. We’ll see you in Las Vegas.”

ASHRAE said that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, its Epidemic Task Force (ETF) presented an update on its global headlining work to share guidance on minimizing the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The keynote, titled ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic and Built Environment: Update on ASHRAE’s Response’, included a brief history and status of the ETF, as well as a higher-level discussion on non-HVAC issues, such as vaccines, data, transmission routes and reopening.

During the conference, ASHRAE’s Task Force on Building Decarbonization also gave an update on its progress, ASHRAE said. The task force was formed to develop technical resources and provide guidance in mitigating the negative impact of buildings on the environment and to the inhabitants of our planet, it added.

The conference was also an opportunity to honor retiring board members for their service. Further, the event saw a virtual installation ceremony for the 2021-22 Board of Directors and officers.

On the final day of the conference, Schwedler gave his address on the Society theme for the coming year, ‘Personal Growth. Global Impact. Feed the Roots’.

“We each are involved in ASHRAE for different reasons and volunteer in our chosen ways,” Schwedler said. “We do it because we grow – professionally and personally – and help others do the same. We do it because that global impact serves the world’s, as well as our personal, future generations. All this occurs because we are true to our deep, widespread and strong technical roots, grassroots and personal roots.”

According to ASHRAE, all technical sessions are now available on-demand to registrants for the next 18 months.

ASHRAE participates in High Performance Buildings Coalition Congressional Event

ATLANTA, Georgia, 9, June 2021: In recognition of High Performance Building Week, 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E Gulledge III, spoke on a panel, titled ‘Building Better: Congressional and Private Sector Efforts to Promote High Performance Buildings’. Congressman, Peter Welch (D-VT), Co-Chair, High Performance Buildings Caucus, and the High Performance Building Coalition organized the event. The Coalition comprises more than 200 manufacturers, trade associations and other stakeholders who support policies and legislation that advance the next generation of buildings.

Joining Gulledge on the panel were chief executives from the International Code Council (ICC), the Green Building Initiative (GBI) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAMPO), ASHRAE said. This was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Lakisha A Woods, CAE, President and CEO, National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).

In his remarks, Gulledge spoke from ASHRAE’s current Society theme, ‘The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0’, which focuses on reimaging the building industry, ASHRAE said.

“With the technological transformation of how we design, build, and operate buildings, the lines within the built environment including energy and infrastructure are increasingly blurred,” Gulledge said. “We must think about how existing buildings fit into this transformation. About half of the commercial buildings in the U.S. were constructed more than 35 years ago. Revitalizing these existing buildings represents Congress’s single best opportunity for making a significant impact on sustainability, resiliency, and energy efficiency. ASHRAE is committed to working with Congress to provide resources and knowledge which continually drive the innovative and strategic improvements needed during this transformation of the built environment.”

According to ASHRAE, Gulledge highlighted the new ASHRAE Global Headquarters building to demonstrate how to transform older existing buildings into high-performance workplace environments in a cost-effective and practical way.

AHRI Board approves decarbonization general position statement

ARLINGTON, Virginia, 18 May 2021: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) on May 14 released a General Position Statement on Decarbonization, advancing the association as a resource for states and localities grappling with how to successfully, sustainably and affordably reduce emissions related to the built-environment.

AHRI revealed the paper as noting, “The air conditioning, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and water heating industry has a long history of providing innovative, high-quality, energy-saving, affordable products that enhance the comfort, safety, health, and productivity of businesses and people around the world”. It expresses AHRI’s support for “the ongoing, science-based transition to a lower carbon society, in which consumer choices for heating, cooling, water heating, and commercial refrigeration are the most energy efficient, environmentally beneficial available anywhere in the world, while maintaining appropriate and adequate levels of safety, health, comfort, and affordability”.

Stephen Yurek, President & CEO, AHRI, said: “Our member companies – which have more than 100 years of experience and expertise in product solutions, technology, and innovation – can serve as a valuable resource in helping the nation achieve a lower carbon society.”

The statement, AHRI said, comes on the heels of the success of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, passed by Congress in 2020, which provides authority to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the production of high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons and establishes a national phase down structure for the refrigerants that are widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. That effort, AHRI said, more than 10 years in the making for the industry, is forecast to ultimately result in a 0.5 degree reduction in global temperatures over the next 30 years, even as it creates jobs and helps the industry’s global trade posture.

ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force releases updated airborne transmission guidance

ATLANTA, Georgia, 5 April 2021: The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force released an updated, unequivocal statement on the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in buildings, ASHRAE said through a Press release.

ASHRAE released the following statement: “Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is significant and should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

ASHRAE said the statement replaces its April 2020 statement, which said airborne transmission was “sufficiently likely” that airborne precautions should be taken. At that time both, ASHRAE said, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) contended that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was by droplet and fomite modes, not airborne. Subsequently, both have acknowledged the risk of airborne transmission indoors, ASHRAE added.

“This may seem like a small step, but we feel it is important to leave no doubt about our position, given the muted support for ventilation and filtration as important tools in the effort to stop the pandemic, from some organizations that should be leading more strongly,” said William P Bahnfleth, Chair, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force.

According to ASHRAE, the Task Force has been developing and disseminating guidance for the control of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 since its formation in March 2020.  “ASHRAE volunteers have played a huge role in evaluating evidence and developing detailed guidance to improve indoor environmental quality,” Bahnfleth said. “The public, globally, is benefitting from the volunteer efforts of some of the most knowledgeable scientists and engineers in our field and this updated guidance is proof of it.”

To view the complete airborne transmission statement and other COVID-19 resources, ASHRAE suggested visiting ashrae.org/COVID-19.

AHRI releases refrigerant research results

ARLINGTON, Virginia, 18 March 2021: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) released results of a project undertaken in cooperation with UL and the Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) in which refrigerants classified by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) as A2L (lower flammability) were tested and compared with A1 (no flame-spread) refrigerants in real-world situations. The effort, AHRI said, was undertaken to develop training programs for firefighting personnel when responding to fires in occupancies with both new (A2L) and existing (A1) refrigerants.

The project included scenarios designed by fire service professionals to develop training for tactical consideration to demonstrate hazards that may be encountered by the fire service for both A1 and A2L refrigerants, AHRI said. “We are grateful to the UL employees and members of the fire service that committed significant time in the development and execution of this project and in preparing reports to ensure that they are both accurate and helpful to firefighters,” said Helen Walter-Terrinoni, AHRI Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

Since industry started pursuing a phasedown of higher-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants over 10 years ago, more than USD 7 million has been invested in research to better understand the lower-GWP refrigerants that will replace them, AHRI said.

The FSRI training module, which incorporates videos from the project, AHRI said, will soon be released and available free-of-charge on its website

ASHRAE 2021 Annual Conference to be held virtually

ATLANTA, Georgia, 17 February 2021: ASHRAE said its 2021 Annual Conference,scheduled to be held in Phoenix, will now take place virtually.

Making the announcement through a Press release, ASHRAE said the event (2021 ASHRAE Virtual Annual Conference ) is designed to provide the latest insights from industry-leading expert in the built environment. It will provide focused, actionable and innovative content to support HVACR and building systems professionals, it added.

“Our pivot to virtual conferences over the past year has been met with great success,” said 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E Gulledge III. “Engagement from members and industry professionals from around the world in these events is a testament to the quality of our conferences and the importance of staying connected within the ASHRAE community. The 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Annual Conference will be a wonderful forum to share fresh ideas and unique approaches to tackle the challenges of our rapidly changing world. I look to extending our digital connection, and I anticipate an immense level of interest and participation.”

According to ASHRAE, conference attendees can expect:

  • Technical sessions from industry experts and thought leaders
  • Online networking and social opportunities
  • A chance for professionals to come together and connect with collaborators around the world
  • A keynote presentation, roundtable decisions and expanded learning opportunities
  • Updates and announcements from Society leaders

ASHRAE said additional information on the conference, including committee meetings and registration details, will be made available in the coming weeks. It recommended that those interested in the event could visitashrae.org/2021annual for more information.

ASHRAE recognizes members for “outstanding industry accomplishments”

ATLANTA, Georgia, 14 February 2021: ASHRAE recognized what it evaluated as the outstanding achievements and contributions of members to the Society and to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry, during the 2021 ASHRAE Virtual Winter Conference, which took place from February 9 to 11.

ASHRAE released the following list of awards and their recipients:

Fellow ASHRAE

Fellow ASHRAE is a membership grade that recognizes members who have attained distinction and made substantial contributions in HVACR and the built-environment, such as education, research, engineering design and consultation, publications, presentations and mentoring. The Society elevated 14 members to the grade of Fellow:

  • Cynthia Cogil, P.E., principal, SmithGroup, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Donald C. Herrmann, BEAP, HBDP, vice president, D.C. Herrmann and Associates, Tampa, Florida, United States
  • David Michael Platt, retired, Corning, New York, United States
  • Martin Dieryckx, general manager, Daikin Europe, Oostende, Belgium
  • Tianzhen Hong, Ph.D., P.E., senior scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, United States
  • Rajan Rawal, professor, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
  • E. Curtis Eichelberger, Jr., P.E., principal consultant, Eichelberger Acoustics LLC, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
  • John M. House, Ph.D., principal, John House Consulting Services, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Steven Tredinnick, P.E., CEM, associate senior project manager, Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc., Lisle, Illinois, United States
  • Blake E. Ellis, P.E., principal, Burns & McDonnell, Overland Park, Kansas, United States
  • Ronald Judkoff, chief architectural engineer emeritus, Center for Building Technologies and Science, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lakewood, Colorado, United States
  • John O. Varley, P.E., HBDP, mechanical discipline manager, AAA Engineering Ltd., Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Donald L. Fenton P.E., Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, United States
  • R. Christopher Mathis, president, MC2 Mathis Consulting Company, Asheville, North Carolina, United States
  • Ibrahim Galal Hassan, P.Eng, Ph.D., professor, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Doha, Qatar
  • James L. Newman, BEAP, OPMP,  founding member and managing partner, Newman Consulting Group, LLC, Farmington, Michigan, United States.

ASHRAE Hall of Fame

William M. Mackay and Hugh J. Barron, founders of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE). The ASHRAE Hall of Fame honors deceased members of the Society who have made milestone contributions to the growth of ASHRAE-related technology or the development of ASHRAE as a society.

  1. Paul Anderson Award

Samir R. Traboulsi, Ph.D., P.Eng., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE received the F. Paul Anderson Award. The award, ASHRAE’s highest honor, for technical achievement, is named in memory of Presidential Member F. Paul Anderson, who was a pioneer in the study of environmental conditions for comfort. Traboulsi is an engineer with Thermotrade SAL, Beirut, Lebanon.

Louise & Bill Holladay Distinguished Fellow Award

Charles C. Copeland, P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE received the Louise and Bill Holladay Distinguished Fellow Award. This annual award is given to an ASHRAE Fellow for continuous preeminence in engineering or research work. The honor was initiated in 1979 by Presidential Member Bill Holladay. Copeland is president and CEO, Goldman Copeland Associates, P.C., New York, NY, United States.

Andrew T. Boggs Service Award

Bjarne W. Olesen, Ph.D., Presidential Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, received the Andrew T. Boggs Service Award. The award, named after ASHRAE’s executive vice president emeritus, recognizes an Exceptional Service Award recipient for continuing unselfish, dedicated and distinguished service. Olesen is director, International Center for Indoor Environment and Energy, and professor, Danish Technical University, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.

YEA Inspirational Leader Award 

Vanessa J. Freidberg, P.E. received the YEA Inspirational Leader Award. The award recognizes a Young Engineer in ASHRAE member who has gone above and beyond to make considerable contributions to the industry and community. Freidberg is in business development, Siemens, Austin, Texas, United States.

E.K. Campbell Award of Merit

Chandra Sekhar, Ph.D., Fellow Member ASHRAE, received the E.K. Campbell Award of Merit. The award honors an individual for outstanding service and achievement in teaching and is presented by the Life Members Club. Sekhar is a professor, National University, Singapore.

Lincoln Bouillon Award
Ryan Pinckard, of the Oregon Chapter, received the Lincoln Bouillon Award, which recognizes a member who performs the most outstanding work in increasing membership. The award commemorates Presidential Member Bouillon’s efforts in recruiting new members. Pinckard is business development engineer, CHC Hydro, Vancouver, WA.

William J. Collins, Jr. RP Award

Reed Coggins, P.E., of the Atlanta Chapter, received the William J. Collins Jr. RP Award. The award, named in honor of Presidential Member Collins, recognizes a chapter RP chair who excels in raising funds for ASHRAE’s RP campaign. Coggins is application engineer, Lincoln Associates, Marietta, Georgia, United States.

Homer Addams Award

Gabrielle McMorrow, of the National Capital Chapter, received the Homer Addams Award, which recognizes a graduate student who has been engaged in an ASHRAE research project at a university that has graduate programs in the areas of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and has achieved a high standard of performance in this work. McMorrow is a mechanical engineer (Energy), Architect of the Capitol, Washington, DC, United States.

 

Ralph G. Nevins Physiology & Human Environment Award

Shichao Liu, Ph.D., of the Boston Chapter, received the Ralph G. Nevins Physiology and Human Environment Award, which is given to a researcher under the age of 40 for significant accomplishments in the study of bioenvironmental engineering and its effect on human comfort and health. Liu is assistant professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States.

 

John F. James International Award

Peter Simmonds, Ph.D., received the John F. James International Award. The award recognizes a member who has done the most to enhance the Society’s international presence. Simmonds works for Building and Systems Analytics, Los Angeles, California, United States, and Hong Kong, China.

 

Standards Achievement Award

Paul A Lindahl, Jr., Life Member ASHRAE, of the Kansas City Chapter, received the Standards Achievement Award, which recognizes exceptional service in the area of standards leadership and technical contribution. Lindahl is a consultant, SPX Cooling Technologies, Overland Park, Kansas, United States.

 

Dan Mills Chapter Programs Award

Beatriz Salazar, of the Toronto Chapter, received the Dan Mills Chapter Programs Award, which recognizes excellence in chapter program endeavors. Salazar is designer – electrical, Smith and Andersen, Toronto, Ontario.

Student Activities Achievement Award

  1. Kapilan, Ph.D., of the ASHRAE Bangalore Chapter, received the Student Activities Achievement Award, which recognizes a chapter student activities chair for growth of student activities. Kapilan is professor and head, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Nagarjuna College of Engineering and Technology, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

Lou Flagg Historical Award

Bruce Flaniken, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, of the Houston Chapter, received the Lou Flagg Historical Award, which recognizes an individual for preparing the most outstanding historical presentation related to HVAC&R. The award is named in recognition of Presidential Member Lou Flagg, who promoted an interest in history. Flaniken is manager of facility system design & construction engineering, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, United States.

Donald Bahnfleth Environmental Health Award

Paul W. Francisco, Fellow Member ASHRAE, of the Central Illinois Chapter, received the Donald Bahnfleth Environmental Health Award, which recognizes excellence in volunteer service focused on environmental health issues. Francisco is associate director for building science, Applied Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, United States.

Youth Outreach Award

Elise Kiland, P.E., of the San Jose Chapter, received the Youth Outreach Award, which recognizes the outstanding effort of a member who actively engages a youth audience in their country, region, or local community through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities. Kiland is a project manager, Critchfield Mechanical, Inc., San Jose, California, United States.

Government Affairs Award

Elizabeth Tomlinson, P.E., of the Minnesota Chapter, received the Government Affairs Award. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding effort and achievement in state, provincial and local government activities in connection with technical issues related to the Society. Tomlinson is senior mechanical engineer, Facilities Sustainability and Resilience Leader, TKDA, St. Paul, Minnesota, United States.

Exceptional Service Award

The Exceptional Service Award recognizes Distinguished Service Award recipients who have continued to serve faithfully and with exemplary effort. Ten members were recognized: 

  • George W. (Billy) Austin, BCxP, BEAP, BEMP, CHD, HBDP, HFDP, OPMP, principal, Shultz Engineering Group, PC, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
  • Wade H. Conlan, P.E., BCxP, commissioning discipline manager, Hanson Professional Services, Inc., Maitland, Florida, United States
  • Mark W. Fly, P.E., Fellow Member ASHRAE, executive director, Norman Asbjornson Innovation Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
  • Jeff Gatlin, P.E., central energy plant manager, Aramark Healthcare/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • Carl C. Hiller, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, is president, Applied Energy Technology, Davis, California, United States
  • M. Dennis Knight, P.E., Fellow Member ASHRAE, owner, Whole Building Systems, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina, United States
  • Nicolas Lemire, P.Eng., HFDP, Fellow Member ASHRAE, president and CEO, Pageau Morel & Associates, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Kevin L. Marple, president, Benz Air Engineering Co., Inc., Beaverton, Oregon, United States
  • Tim McGinn, P.Eng., HBDP, retired, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • R. Lee Millies, Jr., P.E., Fellow Member ASHRAE, president, Millies Engineering Group, Munster, Indiana, United States.

 

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award salutes members of any grade who have served the Society faithfully and with distinction and who have given freely of their time and talent in chapter, regional and Society activities. The following 43 members were recognized: 

  • Jason Alphonso, BEAP, OPMP, branch manager, Wood plc, Orlando, Florida, United States
  • Kevin Amende, P.E., associate professor, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, United States.
  • John S. Andrepont, Life Member ASHRAE, president, The Cool Solutions Company, Lisle, Illinois, United States
  • Nathaniel Boyd, associate director, Utilities and Energy Services, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, United States
  • Robin Bryant, project manager, B&I Contractors, Inc., Fort Myers, Florida, United States
  • Andrew Cochrane, P.E., vice president, Industrial Air, Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
  • Michael Collarin, BEMP, senior engineer – Mechanical, Gresham Smith, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
  • Wade H. Conlan, P.E., BCxP, commissioning discipline manager, Hanson Professional Services, Inc., Maitland, Florida, United States
  • John M. Constantinide, P.E., energy manager, U.S. Air Force, Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, United States
  • Michael P. Cooper, P.E., executive vice president, Bernhard, Metairie, Louisiana, United States
  • Derek A. Crowe, P.E., senior associate/mechanical team leader, Stantec, Berkley, Michigan, United States
  • Keith I. Emerson, Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Vanessa J. Freidberg, P.E., business development manager, Siemens, Austin, Texas, United States
  • Joseph L. Furman, senior sales engineer, Automated Logic, Wallingford, Connecticut, United States
  • James T. Hanley, retired, Cary, North Carolina, United States
  • Nathan P. Hart, P.E., managing principal, RWB Consulting Engineers, Dallas, Texas, United States
  • Kristin Heinemeier, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Member ASHRAE, principal development engineer, Frontier Energy, Inc., Davis, California, United States
  • Carl C. Hiller, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, president, Applied Energy Technology, Davis, California, United States
  • Trenton S. Hunt, vice president, Mechanical Products NSW, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
  • Mark Jackson, Ph.D., sr. product manager, Indoor Environmental Quality, Daikin North America LLC, Waller, Texas, United States
  • Thomas Allen Justice, Life Member ASHRAE, principal, Zene, LLC, Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
  • Ganeson Kandasamy, product engineer, Trane Technologies, Lexington, Kentucky, United States
  • Firouz Keikavousi, Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Orlando, Florida, United States
  • Hyojin Kim, Ph.D., associate professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Newark, New Jersey, United States
  • Lindsey King, energy model analyst, Oglethorpe Power Co, Tucker, Georgia, United States
  • M. Dennis Knight, P.E., Fellow Member ASHRAE, owner, Whole Building Systems, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina, United States
  • Stephanie Kunkel, P.E., associate, Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc. (JMT), Hunt Valley, Maryland, United States
  • Wichai Laksanakorn, P.E., Fellow Life Member, founder and chairman, W. and Associates Consultants, Co. Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand
  • Nicolas Lemire, P.Eng., HFDP, Fellow Member ASHRAE, president and CEO, Pageau Morel & Associates, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Xiaobing Liu, Ph.D., R&D staff, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States
  • Brian Lynch, HBDP, owner, Western Mechanical Solutions, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Steven A. Marek, P.E., mechanical engineer, self-employed, Hanahan, South Carolina, United States
  • Farhan Mehboob, consultant/director, S. Mehboob & Company, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Tim Merrigan, Life Member ASHRAE, consultant, Energy Information Services, Parker, Colorado, United States
  • Corey B. Metzger, P.E., principal, Resource Consulting Engineers, LLC, Ames, Iowa, United States
  • Ahmed Alaa Eldin Mohamed, Ph.D., chairman, Middle East Gate Holding Group, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Carrie Anne Monplaisir, mechanical EIT, Clark Nexsen, Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
  • Michael P. Sheerin, P.E., chairman and CEO, TLC Engineering Solutions, Inc., Orlando, Florida, United States
  • Michelle Swanson, mechanical project manager, The RMH Group, Lakewood/Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Michael L. Watz, Jr., P.E., engineering manager – Commercial Dampers, Greenheck Fan Corporation, Schofield, Wisconsin, United States
  • Ronald L. Westbrook, P.E., Life Member ASHRAE, retired associate director of Physical Plant Utilities, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, United States
  • Robert W. Yost, technical director, National Refrigerants, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Chariti Young, software product manager, Automated Logic, Kennesaw, Georgia, United States

 

Distinguished 50-Year Member Award

The Distinguished 50-Year Member Award is given to individuals who have been a member for a minimum of 50 years, and are a past Society president, Fellow ASHRAE or Distinguished Service Award recipient or who have performed outstanding service to ASHRAE or its predecessor societies – the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE), the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE), and the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE). Twenty-three members were recognized:

  • Stephen A. Becker, P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, senior mechanical engineer, Fellow, Lawrence Engineering Group, Fresno, California, United States
  • John B. Bisset, P.Eng., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, founder, Chorley + Bisset Ltd., London, Ontario, Canada
  • Richard Burr, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, Spring, Texas, United States
  • Charles D. Callahan, Life Member ASHRAE, retired general manager of commercial market, Oklahoma Natural Gas Co., Placitas, New Mexico, United States
  • Richard E. Cawley, P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Tyler, Texas, United States
  • Douglas Dewerth, Life Member ASHRAE, Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • Francis Ferreira, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States
  • Robert H. Fuller, P.E., Life Member ASHRAE, mechanical engineer, Gutridge Mechanical, Dublin, Ohio, United States
  • David F. Geary, Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Annapolis, Maryland, United States
  • Ralph Goldman, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, Dedham, Massachusetts, United States
  • Mark P. Hershman, P.E., Life Member ASHRAE, consulting engineer, Mark P. Hershman, PE, Richboro, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Ronald H. Howell, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Meridian, Idaho, United States
  • H. Gerhard Kerschbaumer, Ph.D., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, retired, Ludwigshafen, Germany
  • John H. Klote, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, owner, SmokeControlExpert.com, Leesburg, Virginia, United States
  • Wichai Laksanakorn, P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, founder and chairman, W. and Associates Consultants, Co. Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand
  • Valentine Lehr, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, Kings Park, New York, United States
  • Franklin Y.S. Lum, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, San Antonio, Texas, United States
  • Stanley A. Mumma, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, professor emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Ramesh Paranjpey, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, Kothrud, Pune, India
  • Mirza Mohammed Shah, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, director, Engineering Research Associates, Redding, Connecticut, United States
  • Charles Simpson, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, Monroe, North Carolina, United States
  • Stanley Slabinski, Life Member ASHRAE, Monroe Township, New Jersey, United States
  • Frantisek Vaculik, Life Member ASHRAE, Nepean, ON, Canada

Crosby Field Award

Charles S. Barnaby, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE and Peter Simmonds, Ph.D., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, are recipients of the Crosby Field Award for “Development of a Unified Tool for Analysis of Room Loads and Conditions”, which was judged to be the best paper presented before the Society. The Crosby Field Award is named for a former Presidential Member.

Barnaby is an independent consultant, Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Simmonds is president, Building Systems and Analytics, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Willis H. Carrier Award

Emily Ann Oldham received the Willis H. Carrier Award given to a member 32 years of age or younger for presenting an outstanding paper at a Society conference. The award is presented for “Energy Performance of an Occupancy-Based Climate Control Technology in Guest Rooms.” Oldham is designer, DLR Group, Washington, DC, United States.

ASHRAE Technical Paper Award

The following papers received a Technical Paper Award, which recognizes the authors of the best papers presented at Society conferences.

  • Di Lu, Dennis L. O’Neal, Ph.D., P.E., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, and Peng Yin, Ph.D., receive an award for “A Comparison of the Annual Energy Use of Fixed and Variable Airflow Parallel Fan-Powered Terminal Units in a Small Office Building.” Lu is a graduate research assistant, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States. O’Neal is Dean, School of Engineering and Computer Science, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, United States. Yin is assistant professor of mechanical engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana, United States.
  • Lisa Meline, P.E., and Stephen Kavanaugh, Ph.D., Fellow Life Member ASHRAE, receive an award for “Geothermal Heat Pumps: Simply Efficient.” Meline is owner and principal engineer, Meline Engineering Corporation, Sacramento, California, United States. Kavanaugh is professor emeritus, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States.
  • Douglas Reynolds, Life Member ASHRAE, and Michael A. Schwob, P.E., receive an award for “The Effect of Length on the Insertion Loss of Fiberglass Lined Sheet Metal Ducts, Part I: Rectangular Duct.” Reynolds is director, Center for Mechanical and Environmental Systems Technology, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Schwob is president, Schwob Acoustics, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.
  • Ngoc Dung (Rosine) Rohatgi, Ph.D., receives an award for “Effects of System Materials towards the Breakdown of Lubricants and Low GWP Refrigerants.” Rohatgi is president, Spauschus Associates, Inc., Bethlehem, Georgia, United States.

ASHRAE Journal Paper Award

Gwelen Paliaga, P.E.; Hui Zhang, Ph.D.; Tyler Hoyt; and Edward Arens, Ph.D., Life Member ASHRAE; receive the Journal Paper Award for the article, “Eliminating Overcooling Discomfort While Saving Energy,” judged to be the best article published in ASHRAE Journal. The article was published April 2019.

Paliaga is technical director, TRC, Oakland, California, United States. Zhang is professional researcher, Center for the Built Environment, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States. Hoyt is Staff Engineer, Comfy, Oakland, California, United States. Arens is director, Center for the Built Environment, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States.

 

Science and Technology for the Built Environment Best Paper Award

Mehdi Mehrabi, Ph.D., P.E. and David Yuill, Ph.D., P.E. are recipients of the Science and Technology for the Built Environment Best Paper Award for “Fouling and its Effects on Air-cooled Condensers in Split System Air Conditioners (RP-1705).” The article was published July 2019. The award is for the best paper published in the volume year of the Science and Technology for the Built Environment, the ASHRAE research journal.

Mehrabi is mechanical engineer, Paradigm Consulting Engineers, West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States. Yuill is Assistant Professor, Architectural Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Omaha, Nebraska, United States.

Student Design Competition

The 2020 Student Design Project Competition focused on building a new 17,500-square-foot document storage and archive center in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The new facility’s purpose was to store rare documents, books, manuscripts, photos, and audio recordings in a manner that will ensure the preservation of historical items for future generations.

First place in the HVAC System Selection category was awarded to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States. Team members are Ashley Everitt, John Kramer, Jessica Lee and Mitchael Sieh.

First place in the HVAC Design Calculations category was awarded to Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt. Team members are Eslam Mohamed Ali, Ahmed Mohamed Soltan, Amr Gamal Fawzy, Moustafa Ahmed El-Saeid and Mark Magdy Fouad.

First place in the Integrated Sustainable Building Design category was awarded to Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom. Team members are Alekhya Yalamanchili, Amr Suliman, Jacob George and Mohamad Abdul Gaffoor Seyad. 

Setty Family Foundation Applied Engineering Challenge

The 2020 Setty Family Foundation Applied Engineering Challenge required students to design a system to be used by building occupants to report operational issues to building operators.

First place was awarded to Bandung Institute of Technology – Wetonia, Bandung, Indonesia. Team members are R Muhammad Nadhir Nasrudin Tanujiwa, Alpinus Raditya Dewangga, Kamilita Hening Musono, Reza Dzikri Khusaini, Hilman Prakoso and Selvia Diwanty. 

The ASHRAE Technology Awards

The ASHRAE Technology Awards recognize outstanding achievements by ASHRAE members who have successfully applied innovative building designs. Their designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality and serve to communicate innovative systems design. Winning projects are selected from entries earning regional awards.

First place recipients for the ASHRAE Technology Awards are:

  • Kwai Ping Lau and Raymond M. H. Yau, Ph.D., commercial buildings – existing buildings commissioning, Two Pacific Place, Hong Kong, China. The building is owned by Swire Properties Limited.
  • Tomoaki Ushio, PE, P.Eng, Harunori Yoshida, Ph.D., and Shigemi Mori, existing commercial buildings category, Kyoto Station in Kyoto, Japan. The building is owned by Kyoto Station Building Development Company Limited.
  • Shana Scheiber, PE and Roger W. Lautz, PE new commercial buildings category, American Family Insurance “The Spark,’ Madison, Wisconsin, United States. The building is owned by American Family Insurance.
  • Brian K. Rose, PE, existing educational facilities category, Historic Mercy High School Renovation/Cincinnati Public Schools Gamble Montessori project, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The building is owned by Cincinnati Public Schools.
  • Aaron Smith, P.Eng, BEAP, BEMP, Denis A. Morris and Andrew Bartlett, new educational facilities, the Dalhousie IDEA and Design Buildings project, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The building is owned by Dalhousie University.
  • Reece Kiriu, PE and Jeff Stein, existing healthcare facilities category, Kaiser Vallejo Medical Offices, Vallejo, California, United States. The building is owned by Kaiser Permanente.

First Place and Award of Engineering Excellence

The Award of Engineering Excellence was created in 1989 to recognize a first-place winner of the Society-level Technology Award competition for an outstanding application of innovative design and effective energy utilization. The recipient of the Award of Engineering Excellence will have demonstrated the best overall compliance with the judging criteria.

First place and recipient of the Award of Engineering Excellence is:

  • Ned Greene, P.E., new health care facilities category, OHSU Knight Cancer Research Building, Portland, Oregon, United States. The building is owned by OHSU.

GEA speaks of improving plant efficiency, reducing carbon emissions

DUESSELDORF, Germany, 12 February 2021: Potential energy savings of up to 30% and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions by as much as 90% or even 100% – that’s what its Sustainable Energy Solutions (SEnS), which integrates processes and utilities (refrigeration and heating) solutions, can help in developing optimisation strategies for customers in diverse industries, GEA said through a Press release. Numerous successfully completed SEnS projects from GEA show that these optimisations reduce the customer’s energy footprint and running costs, without compromising output or the bottom line, GEA added.

Kai Becker
Source: GEA

According to the United Nations, energy efficiency offers a potential 40% of the emission reductions required to help meet global climate goals, GEA pointed out. Due to a growing number of rules and regulations and its own climate targets, there is an absolute need for the industry to reduce its carbon footprint and become more energy-efficient, overall, it said. With cooling and heating traditionally accounting for anywhere between 50% and 90% of a plant’s entire energy consumption, it’s the ideal starting point for GEA’s SEnS initiative, it added.

GEA said its SEnS offering is a culmination of a broad processing portfolio and years of industry know-how, combined with extensive refrigeration expertise. “SEnS supports customers in the food processing, dairy and beverage industries, helping them achieve their climate goals by making them more sustainable,” said Kai Becker, CEO, Refrigeration Technology Division, GEA. As a global industrial technology provider, GEA said, it will continue to strengthen its SEnS offering in 2021. Using the SEnS approach, GEA said it will promote the increased adoption of sustainable solutions, which drive down energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions while helping customers from diverse industry sectors slash their operational costs.

Ulrich Walk
Source: GEA

Ulrich Walk, Chief Service Officer (CSO) – Refrigeration Technologies, said: “GEA has developed a structured holistic and proven approach that begins with analysing the customer’s precise energy requirements, then making process optimizations and including utilities in the equation. By connecting heat pump technology to manufacturing processes, the GEA experts ensure energy is moving circularly, rather than being wasted.”

According to GEA, each SEnS project includes a single point of contact, enabling customers to achieve genuine and proven reductions in energy consumption and their carbon footprint. The SEnS process, the company said, is backed up by a cross-functional engineering team, with experts from dairy, food or beverage processing, as required, as well as team members with refrigeration (heating & cooling) expertise in diverse processing industries. Each project, it added, considers the customer’s business parameters and ambitions, formulated as measurable KPIs, against which the installation must deliver.

ASHRAE announces nominees for 2021-22 officers, directors

ATLANTA, Georgia, 5 February 2021: The ASHRAE Nominating Committee has made nominations for officers and directors from a list recommended by individual members and from Chapters Regional Conferences, ASHRAE said through a Press release.

According to ASHRAE, the 2021-22 nominees are:

  • President-Elect: Farooq Mehboob
  • Treasurer: Ginger Scoggins
  • Vice Presidents: Don Brandt, Dunstan Macauley, Sarah Maston, Tim McGinn
  • Directors and Regional Chairs: Steven Sill (Region I), Ronald Gagnon (Region II), Mark Tome (Region III), Eileen Jensen (Region XI), Richie Mittal (Region-at-Large)
  • Directors-at-Large: Dru Crawley, Art Giesler, Kishor Khankari
  • Alternate Director-at-Large: Heather Platt Gulledge 

According to ASHRAE, its members will vote on the nominees via electronic ballot in May. The Society added that Mick Schwedler will serve as ASHRAE President for 2021-22.

ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force releases updated Building Readiness Guide

ATLANTA, Georgia, 02 February 2021: With the performance of many HVAC systems in buildings still being evaluated, the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has updated its reopening guidance for HVAC systems to help mitigate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, ASHRAE said through a Press release.

“The Building Readiness Guide includes additional information and clarifications to assist designers and commissioning providers in performing pre- or post-occupancy flush calculations to reduce the time and energy to clear spaces of contaminants between occupancy periods,” said Wade Conlan, Lead, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force Building Readiness team. “New information includes the theory behind the use of equivalent outdoor air supply, method for calculating the performance of filters and air cleaners in series, and filter droplet nuclei efficiency that help evaluate the systems’ ability to flush the building.”

According to ASHRAE, major updates to the building readiness guidance include the following:

  • Pre- or post-flushing strategy methodology: The strategy has been updated to include the use of filter droplet nuclei efficiency, which is the overall efficiency of filter, based on viable virus particle sizes in the air, to assist in determining the impact of the filter on the recirculated air on the equivalent outdoor air. This allows the filter efficiency as a function of particle size, using ASHRAE Standard 52.2 test results, to be estimated based on the expected size distribution of virus-containing particles in the air. This calculation is currently based on Influenza A data and will be updated as peer-reviewed research becomes available for the distribution of particle sizes that contain a viable SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, a chart has been added to help determine the time to achieve 90%, 95% or 99% contaminant reduction, if the equivalent outdoor air changes per hour is known.
  • Flushing time calculator: There is now a link to a view-only Google Sheet that can be downloaded for use, to help determine the available equivalent outdoor air changes and time to perform the flush. This sheet is based on a typical mixed AHU with filters, cooling coil, with potential for in-AHU air cleaner (UVC is noted in the example), and in-room air cleaning devices. Provided efficiencies of MERV-rated filters are based on the performance of over 200 actual filters from MERV 4 through 16, but the tool also allows users to enter custom characteristics for specific filters.
  • The sheet also calculates the filter droplet nuclei efficiency, based on the cited research but allows a user to adjust the anticipated distribution of virus, as desired. It also allows specification of the zone (room) air distribution effectiveness from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 to account for the impact of the HVAC system air delivery method on the degree of mixing. Default calculations assume perfect mixing. Finally, the tool allows for the target air changes to be adjusted if an owner wants to achieve a different per cent removal in lieu of the recommended 95%. 
  • Heating season guidance: The guide now includes data to consider for heating of outdoor air and the potential impact on pre-heat coils in systems.
  • Adjustments to align with Core Recommendations: The Core Recommendations were released in January 2021, and this guidance document needed to be updated to ensure that the information provided aligned with the intent of those recommendations. This included minimum outdoor air supply and filter efficiency requirements and their role in an equivalent outdoor air supply-based risk mitigation strategy.

According to ASHRAE, the guidance still addresses the tactical commissioning and systems analysis needed to develop a Building Readiness Plan, increased filtration, air cleaning strategies, domestic and plumbing water systems, and overall improvements to a system’s ability to mitigate virus transmission.

Building for the “new normal”

As the world continues to grapple with an ever-shifting economic landscape, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders in the building sector across the GCC region have observed how the pandemic has triggered an evaluation and reassessment of priorities. Ashok Jha, Head FM and Retrofit Projects, Universal Voltas, points out that the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19 has prompted many organisations to take actions they have been putting off for some time, including launching new digital services and evolving their business models, enabling greater flexibility in their working and implementing cost optimisation measures.

However, Jha says, perhaps the most notable trend would be the move towards a greater number of retrofit projects in the region. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the oil prices plummeted to one of the lowest levels and government revenues went down in the GCC region,” he says. “This has led to reduced spending across all sectors, including new construction, with the current market seeing greater push towards shallow retrofitting, deep retrofitting, energy conservation and reducing the building carbon footprint in the existing buildings to make them more sustainable.” Jha says that since the number of existing buildings in Oman, Kuwait and the UAE is very high compared to new buildings, there was also a need to address the physical deterioration of the buildings, due to functional and economic obsolescence, and to make them more sustainable. “Because of this, there is a surge in demand for the retrofitting of the existing buildings across the GCC region,” he says (see sidebar).

Andrea Di Gregorio, Executive Director, Reem, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, also believes the region is poised to see a strong pipeline of retrofit projects. “More focus is being put in refurbishing existing buildings, to bring them up-to-speed with the latest best practices in sustainability,” he says. “We see an increase in interest from building owners in retrofit activities, and we expect this interest to further increase throughout 2021 and in the coming years.”

Energy efficiency and sustainability 

Another major driver for retrofits is the move towards energy efficient and sustainable practices, which has long been heralded by experts in the sector. Jha points out that because of the detrimental impact of buildings on the environment, with occupied buildings and the construction sector accounting for 36% of the global energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions according to International Energy Agency (IEA), the UAE has begun to actively transition into smart and sustainable cities, which has turned the focus on the energy efficiency of the buildings, specifically existing ones. 

In addition to its impact on overall sustainability efforts, much of the move can be attributed to growing awareness on return of investment in terms of reduced operational cost. As Jha points out, retrofitting primarily refers to the measures being taken to replace legacy energy and utility systems with new and energy-efficient technologies. “These technologies not only reduce energy consumption and decrease carbon emissions but also lower maintenance costs, improve safety, enhance productivity, boost property valuations and also prolong the useful life of the assets and the building as a whole,” he says. “In a nutshell, we can say that OPEX of the building reduces and the asset value increases. Hence, it is becoming important day by day to retrofit buildings to not only make them more sustainable for the future but also to derive economical value by reducing the operational cost and, in turn, optimise the rentals and make them more lucrative for the tenants.”

Weighing in, Di Gregorio says that sustainable buildings often result in lower life cycle cost of the building itself. “If sustainability features are carefully selected, operational savings – in terms of energy and water usage and equipment maintenance – typically exceed any incremental investments that those features require,” he says. “For this reason, in a perfect market, where developers are able to fairly monetise their investments in higher quality buildings, we would expect for tenants any rent premiums for more sustainable buildings to be exceeded by the value of operational savings.”

Jha adds that as energy prices continue to rise, the relative benefits of energy efficiency will become increasingly important, and this is leading to a huge surge in demand for equipment, such as Smart LED lights and motion sensors, air curtains and FAHUs, energy-efficient AHUs, FCUs or split units and VAV systems. This has also led to greater demand for water usage reduction through the use of low-flow fixtures, sensors, waterless urinals and low-flush WCs, and also for photovoltaic panels on rooftops to generate electricity from the solar power, among other solutions. 

A renewed focus on IAQ 

While the return on investment (ROI) from retrofitting for energy efficiency is becoming clear, stakeholders are hopeful that the new wave of retrofits would also accommodate enhancements of indoor air quality (IAQ), which has been typically overlooked over the past years. Di Gregorio says that he believes this would be the case. “There is increasing interest in IAQ, partly driven by COVID-19 concerns,” he says. “Some awareness and technical barriers are there; nonetheless we foresee development in this area in the future.”

Jha shares a similar opinion. He says: “Fear of pandemic is looming large in the minds of the people, and therefore, while carrying out the retrofitting of their buildings, owners are ensuring that retrofit projects also take into consideration IAQ of the buildings, where people are currently spending more than 90% of their time and also to reduce the chances of contamination through virus, bacteria, moulds and fungi.”

Di Gregorio says there is a lot of focus on safety and security from building owners, particularly in what concerns disinfection of common areas. “This sometimes adds to other measures, like filtration, turning into improved air quality,” he says. Jha adds that some of the measures that building owners are taking include Demand Control Ventilation through C02 sensors, fitting volume control dampers, ultraviolet lamps in AHUs, ultraviolet germicide irradiation and MERV 13/14 filters. He further adds that there has been an increase in the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers to maintain humidity in the range of 40-60%, where the microbial and fungal growth is minimal.

Jha also says that the majority of the offices are allowing their staff to work from home and that people are spending more than 90% of their time indoors. “This further necessitates that apt measures are taken by the occupants to ensure proper lux levels, ergonomics and IAQ, as these will have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing and, in turn, impact their productivity,” he says. “Hence, there cannot be a better time than now to address the Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) issues, if any.” Jha says these are the factors driving a lot of investment being done by the property owners in the built-environment to retrofit their buildings to ensure proper IAQ against the traditional retrofit, where emphasis was mainly towards energy efficiency.

Making a case for retrofits 

Keeping in mind the tangible and intangible benefits of retrofitting, Di Gregorio believes there is more than enough evidence to drive building owners to invest in such initiatives. “If building owners are not thinking about retrofits, they definitely should!” he says. “Retrofit projects tend to have very favourable returns. We are observing that for comprehensive retrofits of commercial buildings in Ras Al Khaimah, the payback time is 3-5 years. And the contracting standards that are being adopted often provide forms of guarantees for the investor on those returns.”

Jha, agreeing, says that in spite of the change in the occupancy profile of buildings, property owners must continue to retrofit within the built-environment. “Retrofitting of existing buildings offers tremendous opportunities for improving asset performance in terms of utilities,” he says. “Retrofitting also offers a potential upside in the overall performance of the building through improved energy efficiency, increased staff productivity, reduced maintenance costs, and better thermal comfort.” Jha believes that such key drivers should serve as a motivation and incentive for building owners, who are on the fence about investing in retrofit projects.

A complete 180

In view of the shifting political landscape, how will the new administration affect the country’s commitment to climate change mitigation?

It’s going to be a complete 180 from the [Donald] Trump administration. In [Joe] Biden’s plan, he mentions “a historic investment” in upgrading four million commercial buildings to return almost a quarter of the savings from retrofits to cash-strapped state and local governments. Specifically, it says that he will “mobilize a trained and skilled American workforce to manufacture, install, service and maintain high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems that run cleaner and less costly”. 

Given our focus on energy savings, I think that this will be great for business as well as for building owners. Some suggest that large rebates may be involved to directly incentivise businesses and make it affordable to pursue these upgrades. 

That being said, although the Trump administration was not at all focused on energy conservation, I found that individual building owners and managers were still pursuing these measures during the Trump administration. Most organisations in the US are interested in conserving energy and saving money. With government focus and incentives, it will just accelerate the demand.

In view of COVID-19, do you see a greater uptake of IAQ equipment throughout the country? 

Yes, for sure. However, these things come with a cost, and with COVID destroying the economy, there is going to have to be some kind of funding or incentives given to get these types of retrofits in place. I will give you an example. Two of our clients in the US requested ultraviolet lighting proposals to be retrofitted into their air handlers and FCUs. We put together the proposals and delivered them; however, neither has been approved yet due to the difficulties these buildings are facing financially due to delinquent tenant rent payments and occupancy.

Another interesting fact is that most of these IAQ retrofits are not intended to deliver energy savings. That is another hurdle to getting these projects approved. One last point – and I don’t think this is limited to the US – customers in the UAE have also asked for ultraviolet lighting to be installed, and it is still difficult to get the approval here, for the same reasons mentioned earlier.

Has there been a heavier-than-usual concentration on the air side of things from building owners, tenants and manufacturers?

The EPA has recommended that guidance provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for managing IAQ during the current pandemic be followed. ASHRAE’s statement is as follows: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

The two solutions we have seen implemented in the buildings we service in the USA are AHU filter upgrades and increasing the intake of outside air into the building. Both of these changes are very effective and relatively easy to implement as well as low cost.

How has the change in occupancy profile thrown everything into a state of chaos in terms of commercial and residential property requirements? Will this be a driving force towards more retrofit projects? 

In terms of energy conservation measures, this has thrown everything into a state of chaos. One, the commercial buildings are hardly occupied, which has led to energy bills dropping dramatically. However, with less occupancy comes less rent, thus less money to invest in retrofit projects. In addition, building owners, who are still looking for energy savings, are hesitant to move forward, because they are not sure if and when tenants will be returning to the buildings, so to be honest, unless it’s a well-funded customer, this could actually slow the conservation efforts.

Residential buildings face the same issue. People are leaving the dense, populated cities, preferring the suburbs right now, leaving residential multi-family buildings unoccupied and no rents being paid. Until we get herd immunity with the vaccine, and people are comfortable returning to the cities to work and live, this will continue to be challenging.

How have these trends potentially influenced building owners? 

As I stated earlier, most building owners are hesitant even if they want to move forward on new projects, given the current situation. However, some forward thinkers, with ability and the confidence that things will return to normal, are taking this time to invest in conservation efforts, so that when the buildings are occupied, they can take advantage of the maximum savings.

Have there been efforts to retrofit among specialised facilities such as healthcare? 

At the moment, it is difficult to even get a meeting with a healthcare facility in the US. They are overwhelmed and have overcapacity with COVID patients and are focused on saving lives before anything else. Their priority right now is the conservation of life.

Has the pandemic finally trained the spotlight on the importance of having a balance between energy efficiency and IAQ? 

I think that yes, people will be investing in IAQ, or at least investigating their options, especially healthcare facilities and the like. However, in my experience, to be honest, it’s a tough sale, unless there’s a Return on Investment (ROI) in the project. Having said that, UV lighting does have some energy-saving benefits, so maybe a combination of IAQ and energy savings should be highlighted to the building owners in the presentation of these retrofit solutions.

Retrofitting in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE

Ashok Jha

COVID-19 has had a significant adverse impact on organisations, people’s health, their livelihoods and the economy at large in the GCC region countries, says Ashok Jha, Head, FM & Retrofit Projects, Universal Voltas LLC. However, Jha is quick to point out that while the duration and severity of COVID-19’s impact on economies and sectors will undoubtedly vary, companies and governments in the GCC region have done well to set in motion a “look ahead, anticipate, innovate and adjust” roadmap, which has led the construction sector to focus on energy optimisation and retrofitting in existing buildings, which is a key to sustainable construction.

 

Oman 

Citing figures from Global Data, a leading data and analytics company, Jha says that Oman’s construction industry contracted sharply in 2020, plummeting by nearly around -10.3%. “The industry is struggling with challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, low oil prices, and the impact of sovereign credit rating downgrades,” he says. Further compounding the downside risks to the outlook for the industry, the Omani Government has had to rationalise spending.”

Jha adds that given the limited prospects for the government to boost investment in infrastructure and other investment projects, a recovery in the construction sector is expected to be very slow. “Global Data currently expects the construction industry to fall further in 2021, with output contracting by -5.8%,” he says. “The fiscal plan by the Oman Government is intended to reduce public debt, increase the state’s reserves, and diversify revenue away from the oil sector.”

Owing to these factors, Jha believes that new construction spend will be very minimal, and more impetus will be on the retrofitting, deep retrofitting, fit-outs and energy performance optimisation in the built-environment in Oman.

Kuwait

Kuwait has faced similar challenges, Jha says, adding that the construction market shrunk in the year 2020 at about -9.5% approximately, as per Global Data. “The construction industry is struggling with the challenges presented by the outbreak of COVID-19, low oil prices and the impact of sovereign credit rating downgrades,” he says. “Because of this, focus is more towards existing buildings in Kuwait.”

Jha adds that within the built-environment in Kuwait, residential buildings constitute around 81%, commercial buildings are 11%, whereas government buildings constitute four per cent; the remaining four per cent includes commercial, industrial, agricultural and services. “Also, Kuwait has one of the highest per capita electricity consumption and carbon footprint globally, which further necessitates the retrofitting of the buildings to make them more sustainable,” he says. “All the above factors, along with the economic strain, is forcing Kuwait to focus on energy conservation, deep retrofitting, retrofitting and fit-outs in the built-environment with a very minimal spending on new construction.”

UAE

Sharing observations on the UAE market, in particular, Jha says that the COVID-19 outbreak, coupled with low oil prices, has led the construction output in the UAE to contract by nearly 4.8% in 2020, but that a rebound is expected in 2021, as per Global Data. “New project opportunities are expected to be minimal in the coming quarters, as the government is consolidating its widening fiscal debt and COVID-19-related force majeure,” he said. “Over the medium- to longer-term, government investment will remain focused on upgrading physical infrastructure and reforming the financing and regulatory environment.”

Jha adds that the UAE has set high targets for building retrofit, which are reflected in the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy. “The latter targets an overall 30% reduction in energy and water use by 2030,” he says. “To support this, Etihad ESCO aims to retrofit 30,000 buildings in the next 10 years and generate 1.68TWh energy savings and around 5.64 BIG of water savings by year 2030.”

Sustainable cooling vital for smart cities, says MIT professor

Dubai, UAE, 24 March 2019: Although cities occupy only two per cent of the world’s surface, they host up to 50% of the world’s population and are responsible for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions, said Carlo Ratti, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati, during his keynote address for the ‘Design and the City of the Future’ event on March 19, at the American University in Dubai (AUD). During a comprehensive discussion on how IoT is shaping the built-environment, Ratti underscored the important role that sustainable cooling must play in cities of the future. “Fixing energy usage and occupancy is vital,” he said, “when you think about how much energy you spend cooling your homes.”

Ratti said trends in modern architecture are steadily placing greater emphasis on the importance of designing better ways to control temperature with minimum use of energy. This, he said, is especially the case in office spaces, which continue to evolve based on digital connectivity and individual requirements. Providing an example, Ratti pointed to the redesign of the Agnelli Foundation headquarters, in Turin, Italy, where Carlo Ratti Associati developed a customised environmental bubble that provides personalised heating, cooling and lighting systems to occupants throughout the building. By leveraging IoT technologies, Ratti said the building was able to optimise space and energy usage. While the company was deeply involved in the overall architecture of the historic structure, Ratti said the implementation of key technologies related to heating and cooling was done by Siemens Italy, which equipped the building with sensors for different data sets, including the location of the building’s occupants, temperature, CO2 concentration and the availability of meeting rooms.

Ratti said that he believes such an approach is scalable for other projects. “I really see it happening in high-end buildings,” he said. “Monitoring occupancy in a very fine way to create a climate around ourselves.” This, he said, is a best way to harness energy otherwise wasted from cooling in an inefficient manner.

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