What High-Performance Contractors Should Do at the AHR EXPO

This month the entire HVAC Industry gathers for the 71st Annual AHR Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia from January 14-16. With more than 2,100 product manufacturers and suppliers displaying the very latest in mechanical systems products, innovations, and services, the show is a veritable shopping mall for the discerning HVAC contractor.

Since 1930, the AHR Expo has remained the industry’s gathering place for commercial and residential HVAC contractors, facility operators, architects, educators and other industry professionals to explore the latest trends and applications and to cultivate mutually beneficial business relationships.

2019 AHR Exposition, Atlanta GA

The 2019 AHR Expo is headquartered in Atlanta, GA at the World Congress Center

More importantly, the High-Performance segment of the HVAC Industry will be well represented. National Comfort Institute (NCI) and National Balancing Council (NBC) will both be exhibiting (Booth BC4929 in Hall C of the Georgia World Congress Center), so please be sure to stop by and say hello.

You may not know this, but NCI and NBC are endorsing organizations of the expo and have been for years.

Furthermore, many of the tool and instrument manufacturers who build the products you need to do your Performance-Based Contracting™ work will also be there – as well as everything from software to massive chiller systems and more.

Finally, there are the educational sessions, which number in the hundreds. NCI and NBC are leading four FREE sessions that you should be sure to check out. More on that in a minute.

A Cornucopia of Industry Products Showcased

Because of the sheer size of this show and the crazy number of products on display, organizers have divided the exhibit hall into three distinct sections. This enables you to better organize and manage your time while there.

These three sections include:

Building Automation and Control (BAC) Showcase – This area features products and services for Building Automation, Energy, and Facility Management Systems; Climate Controls; Monitoring Systems; Networked Building Systems (such as Lighting, Security, and Fire Alarms); Wireless/Cloud-based technologies; and more.

The Software Center concentrates on HVACR related software, both off-the-shelf and customized solutions. These include: Project and Field Service Management (Estimating, Inventory Control, GPS Tracking); Systems Design, Specification and Analysis; Remote-based and Cloud-based Software; and more.

The Indoor Air Quality Association Pavilion is designated for member companies of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA).

These exhibitors will show products related to Indoor Air Quality, such as Air Quality Monitors, Exhaust Fans, Environmental Testing Systems, Dehumidifiers, and more.

Of course the rest of the show fills several giant halls in the convention center that can account for miles and miles of walking. It is always a great idea to either use the AHR Expo App or the printed guidebook to plan your day.

One more fun fact: the Expo showcases thousands of products in more than 770 categories including:

  • Heating Systems, Air Conditioning Units, Refrigerating Equipment
  • Ventilators, Ducts, and Fans
  • IAQ Related Products, including Filters
  • Building Automation, Controls, Networking, and Energy Management Systems
  • Radiant Heating, Hydronic Systems, and Plumbing Products
  • Tools and Instruments
  • Software for HVAC Design, Estimating and Service/Business Management
  • Solar, Geothermal, and other Renewable Energy Related Products.

Education, Education, and more Education

Because the Expo is held in conjunction with the ASHRAE Winter Conference and a large number of other organizations, attendees can choose from hundreds of seminars and product demonstrations on the exhibit floor as well as in classroom settings.

In fact, there are more than 120 sessions including free best practices and industry trends seminars from leading HVACR organizations, continuing education programs from the ASHRAE Learning Institute (ALI), rapid-fire product presentations, and professional certification opportunities.

High-Performance HVAC Classes

Among these many training opportunities are four classes being taught by instructors from both NCI and NBC. All four are FREE and open to the public.

  • Airflow Testing Accuracy in the Field
  • Quick Guide to Applying Fan and Pump Laws
  • How Much Energy Can HVAC System Balancing Save?
  • What it Takes to Get an Installed HVAC System to Operate at Equipment Rated Capacity.

Airflow Testing Accuracy in the Field will be held on Monday, January 14th from 1-2 PM in room B315. This entry-level class is free to all registered AHR Expo attendees and is being presented by Ben Lipscomb, P.E., engineering manager at NCI; and Peter Jacobs, president of Building Metrics.

Lipscomb and Jacobs will discuss how advances in airflow instruments and technician certification have increased the accuracy of field airflow measurement in recent years.
They will show how test methods are now simpler because of advanced instrument technology, and skills are improving because of a steady rise in field airflow testing throughout the HVAC industry.

Rob Falke fills the house during his 2018 AHR Expo presentation.

Rob Falke fills the house during his 2018 AHR Expo presentation.

In Quick Guide to Applying Fan and Pump Laws, attendees will learn about this quick guide to remember and apply pump and fan (affinity) laws in their daily work.
This seminar will provide more than a dozen examples of applications using fan & pump laws. Understanding these laws enables test and balance, commissioning, and facilities maintenance professionals to apply and solve problems on a daily basis.

This class is being held Monday, January 14th from 2:30 to 3:30 PM . It too is a free entry-level class for all registered AHR Expo attendees. It is being presented by Scott Fielder, director, National Balancing Council.

How Much Energy Can HVAC System Balancing Save? Good question, right? Find out on Monday, January 14th from 4-5:30 PM in room B315.

This entry level class will highlight how testing alone doesn’t save any energy. It will demonstrate, however, that balancing an HVAC system can save some energy by bringing the system closer to designer and equipment manufacturer specifications.

It will also show how you can use additional balancing testing to diagnose the system, find hidden system shortcomings, and make custom repairs. By the way, custom repairs are where the greatest HVAC savings can be found.

This class is being taught by Peter Jacobs, president, Building Metrics; Ben Lipscomb, P.E., engineering manager, NCI, and Rob Falke, president, NCI.

What it Takes to Get an Installed HVAC System to Operate at Equipment Rated Capacity – taught by Rob Falke, president of NCI.

This last entry-level NCI class will be held Tuesday, January 15th from 1-2:30 PM in room B312.

Rob will talk about how most people believe it’s extremely difficult to optimize the performance of an installed HVAC system. Then he will show that developing your skill and ability to discover system defects may be easier than you think. He says, “Once the defects are identified, improving system efficiency may be more straightforward than you ever imagined.”

Attendees fill the room in the convention center during one of the many presentations at the AHR Expo.

Attendees fill the room in the convention center during one of the many presentations at the AHR Expo.

AHR Expo Survey Shows Upbeat Outlook for 2019

Each year the management team at AHR Expo surveys their HVACR manufacturer exhibitors to get their views on the upcoming economic year. The results were released in November and showed that HVACR Industry manufacturers reported positive 2018 sales growth.

It seems that last year’s confidence in the industry’s economic outlook is forecasted to carry into 2019, with 87% of respondents anticipating positive business prospects heading into the new fiscal year.

The report also indicates the HVACR market is primed for continued business growth. Reports for 2018 are at an all-time high, with 44% of respondents reporting a significant sales increase of more than 10% year-on-year; this is up from an already impressive 2017 record of 35%.

The AHR Expo, co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI, is held concurrently with ASHRAE’s Winter Conference. The event will take place on Jan. 14-16, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress convention center in Atlanta, GA.

Market Segment Growth Expected in All Sectors

Survey respondents expect to see steady growth across all market segments in the areas of: residential; light commercial; heavy commercial; schools; non-school institutional buildings; office buildings; lodging; manufacturing/industrial; data/telecom centers; hospitals/healthcare; restaurants/hospitality; and laboratories/cleanrooms. Of these, lodging is forecasted to experience the fastest growth, with projections up 10% from last year at 64%.

Overall sector growth predictions are up in comparison to last year as well, with positive outlooks across all markets at nearly 60% or better forecasts for excellent or good growth projections for 2019.

For the third year, the report shows a shift in potential market drivers for business, with retrofit and renovations taking the lead for 2019 at 36% – up nearly 10% from last year.

As expected, reliability remains the most important customer requirement when making buying decisions. Responses indicate a steady rise in energy efficiency and indoor air quality as close second top-rated factors for purchase decision-making.

Energy efficiency saw the most growth, up 6% to more than 96% of respondents ranking it important to very important in their considerations.

This aligns with the responses for most important trend or issue with potential impact for businesses in 2019 – leading the charge is the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rise of connected buildings as they relate to energy efficiency and smart control.

Issues of concern are reported as rising tariffs and the need to hire more professionals across the HVAC industry.

The survey, known as the Annual Economic Outlook of HVACR Manufacturers, is sponsored by AHR Expo and the ASHRAE Journal.