Last week, I had the opportunity once again to attend the annual AHR Expo, held concurrently with the ASHRAE Winter Conference, this year in Atlanta. With a couple of exceptions, this has been an annual tradition for me since 1998, and it’s always exciting -- although I do not miss booth duty, which I did until 2007!
The first day this year started humorously, with several of us sharing a ride from our hotel to the Georgia World Congress Convention Center, rather than waiting for the shuttle bus. (It was actually cold in Atlanta, especially for me, visiting from South Florida.) The rental was a small SUV and, unbeknownst to all of us, the rear gate opened sideways, not up. It took several minutes for two engineers, an international sales manager, and an office admin to figure it out. (Yes, it was the sales guy who finally got it open!)
Because of the way this year's AHR Expo was laid out, in two large halls, with exhibitors even located in the Connector passage between them, it was difficult for me to gauge the size of the crowd compared to previous years. According to the show management, however, there was 30 percent more space utilized than during the previous show in Atlanta, in 2001. Although I didn’t stay for the third day this year, there was a general consensus that many others left early due to looming winter storm fears and separate concerns about TSA delays tied to the ongoing federal government shutdown. (Atlanta's airport is the busiest in the US). One thing that stood out to me: the large number (nearly 500) of international exhibitors, many or most of them from Asian countries. It appears that tariff threats do not greatly concern those manufacturers.
There were, of course, a number of important awards presented. The 2019 AHR Innovation Awards went to Automated Logic, in the Building Automation category, for their Opti-Flex integration platform; Johnson Controls, in the Cooling category, won for the York YZ magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller; Regal, in the heating category, received the award for an EC motor intended specifically for furnaces; in the IAQ category, the winner was CPS Products for the appropriately-named IAQ SmartAir, a WiFi-enabled IAQ diagnostic tool; Anvil International took the plumbing award for their AnvilPress copper fittings and couplings system; Emerson’s Copeland Scroll compressor took the refrigeration award; Taco won the software award for their Taco Tags support system; Dwyer won the award in the tools and instruments category for their Series 490W wireless manometer intended for hydronic balancing; and Energy Wall’s compact and lightweight Universal ERV took the ventilation award. The winner of the Green Building award also won the 2019 Product of the Year Award. enVerid Systems won for its HLR 1000E-M, an air scrubber that removes CO2 and VOCs from indoor air, thereby reducing outside air requirements by 60-80 percent while still meeting the requirements of ASHRAE 62.1.
CONTRACTOR magazine's 'Contractor of the Year' award went to E.M. Duggan, a Massachusetts-based, fifth-generation, family-owned plumbing, HVAC, and fire protection contractor. Duggan also received a Top 10 finish (no. 6 in the large group category) in the Boston Globe Magazine’s Top Places to Work in Massachusetts. So, they must be doing something (actually, a lot of things) right!
Congratulations to all of the winners and to all of the other exhibitors, many with exciting new products this year. For more information on those exhibitors and products, you can still visit the Expo exhibitor directory at: https://ahr19.mapyourshow.com/7_0/search.cfm.
For those of you who missed this year’s Expo, you’ll have another chance next year, February 3-5, 2020, in Orlando. And I can almost certainly guarantee you that it will be warmer!
A regular contributor to HPAC Engineering and a member of its editorial advisory board, the author is a principal at Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a south Florida-based engineering firm focusing on energy and sustainability.