The 2024 ASHRAE Winter Conference proved to be a dynamic convergence of HVAC&R industry leaders, experts and professionals with a central focus on critical topics such as decarbonization, climate change, artificial intelligence and more.
Held from January 20-24 in Chicago, the conference saw a robust gathering of industry professionals with nearly 3,800 people registered to attend. The conference included 458 committee meetings, 125 technical sessions and numerous engaging social events and activities. The AHR Expo, spanning an expansive 527,000 net square feet of exhibit space at McCormick Place, played host to more than 1,860 exhibitors, including 344 international exhibitors, unveiling cutting-edge HVAC&R technologies, products and services. An estimated 50,000 people attended the Expo over the course of three days.
The top three most attended Winter Conference sessions are detailed below:
At the Conference, 2023-24 ASHRAE President Ginger Scoggins shared updates pertaining to the Society's current theme, "Challenge Accepted: Tackling the Climate Crisis" during her State of the Society address.
"We built on a declaration to be a collective body of problem solvers in tackling the global climate crisis," Scoggins said. "ASHRAE regions and chapters showed an exemplary commitment not only to understanding how climate change affects building planning, design, construction and operation, but they volunteered IMMENSE time and expertise to develop resources to support actionable, wide-scale building decarbonization practices. YOU recognized the challenge and YOU found ways to accept responsibility for making changes in your activities to make a difference. Big or small, all changes help our efforts and we appreciate you."
Among many topics, Scoggins spoke on the expanding interest in ASHRAE's decarbonization conferences, as well as support from the U.S. federal government for ASHRAE's recently published updated energy efficiency standard for existing building, Standard 100.
Scoggin's full State of the Society address manuscript and presentation can be found at ashrae.org/president.
ASHRAE welcomed Dr. Carolyn Snyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Buildings and Industry for the U.S. Department of Energy to the President's Luncheon. Dr. Snyder spoke on ASHRAE's building decarbonization leadership.
"I want to share my deep gratitude and appreciate from the DOE for all of the work that ASHRAE does and for your longstanding close partnership with our agency," Snyder said. "Last November, our Deputy Secretary announced our new national building decarbonization strategy for the United States. We need to prioritize and center around equity, affordability and resilience – all key themes that we see throughout this conference and areas where you have been leading for decades. It's going to require energy efficiency gains estimated at 35% by 2035 and 50% by 2050. Despite all the massive energy efficiency savings we have to date in our country, there's so much more that we need to do to achieve these targets. It's as if we wrote this blueprint looking at your conference agenda for this week. You are already leaders across those topics. What you're doing here today in your organization is making a real impact for our country today, but more importantly it's making an immense impact in our buildings, in our communities and in our homes for decades to come and for our children and grandchildren."
President Scoggins announced the winners of the 2023 Decarbonization Challenge, a grant program to assist ASHRAE chapters in implementing decarbonization projects in their communities. An impressive 43 applications were submitted and nine chapters will receive grants ranging between $2,000 to $10,000 for a total of $65,850, with additional matching funds from partnering organizations of the selected projects. The projected carbon savings will be on the order of 2.3 million kilograms of CO2 over the life cycles of the selected projects based on submitted calculations.
Decarbonization Challenge winners and photos can be found at ashrae.org/DecarbChallengeFund.
Further emphasizing the Society's commitment to solving the technical challenges of building decarbonization, the board of directors approved the transition of the ASHRAE Task Force for Building Decarbonization from an ad hoc committee (TFBD) to the permanent Center of Excellence for Building Decarbonization.
ASHRAE signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai-headquartered district cooling service provider Empower for the development of a unified and globally approved district cooling standard. The Society also signed a new agreement with OzonAction under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for a 2024-2025 Work Plan, themed "Refrigerant Management for Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency in Developing Economies." The plan's emphasis is on making tools and programs for sound management of refrigerants available and accessible to stakeholders in developing countries.
The remarkable accomplishments of ASHRAE members took center stage at an honors and awards program. ASHRAE's Executive Vice President and Secretary, Jeff Littleton, also provided updates on the Society's ongoing initiatives, highlighting its 130 years of service to the built environment.
"In the year 2150, 130 years into the future, how will ASHRAE members judge our Society's work today? Will this decade be the tipping point for building decarbonization? Will buildings truly protect occupants from indoor and outdoor health threats? In 2150, will ASHRAE's vision of healthy and sustainable built environment for all be realized? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. We have the talent, we have the wisdom, we have the passion. In 2150, ASHRAE members will look back on you – on us here today – and marvel at the pace of progress," said Littleton.
ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI) offered 18 courses. New courses were as follows:
All registered attendees, both in-person and virtual, will have access to the virtual conference platform during the conference and 12 months post-conference.
The 2024 ASHRAE Annual Conference will take place June 22-26 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 2025 Winter Conference will take place February 8-12, 2025 and the AHR Expo, February 10-12, 2025 in Orlando, Florida.