ASHRAE President: Get Involved Locally to Make a Difference Globally

Feb. 21, 2013
In this exclusive interview, ASHRAE President Tom Watson discusses how the society's Community Sustainability Project program is designed to share the knowledge of members to improve the world around them.

To help accomplish the goals in his presidential theme, “Broadening ASHRAE’s Horizons,” 2012-13 ASHRAE President Tom Watson, PE, FASHRAE, Life Member, is calling on ASHRAE members and chapters to examine ways to get more involved in their local communities.

As part of that effort, ASHRAE launched the Community Sustainability Project program. Watson, chief engineer, Daikin McQuay, Staunton, Va, sat down with HPAC Engineering at the recent ASHRAE Winter Conference in Dallas to discuss the program.

Tom Watson

“The Community Sustainability Project program is designed to share the knowledge of members to improve the world around them,” Watson said. “It provides resources for chapters to help them get involved in a project, such as the Energy 4 Kids project, which is a joint effort of the Hampton Roads Chapters of ASHRAE and the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA). The chapters use funds raised from a fundraiser (such as a barbeque) and volunteer help for the engineering and installation of energy-efficiency measures for the facilities of local non-profits and charities.”

According to Watson, other chapters are taking up the challenge: in Southern Alberta members are looking at making renovations to a camp for children with cancer, while the Florida West Coast Chapter led the way to create a “ban the bottle” campaign at three regional college and university campuses. The chapter hosted a table at the universities, featuring information on energy and water use, as well as other notable campus sustainability measures such as recycling, condensate collection for reuse, and solar thermal arrays. The Florida campaign was held in conjunction with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Apple Day of Service. At North Carolina A&T, students are involved with a U.S. Department of Energy housing initiative, going door to door, testing and insulating lower income houses.

“ASHRAE members and chapters are encouraged to share their knowledge to help improve the environment in which we live, work and play by taking part in a Community Sustainability Project,” Watson said. “Those who have already completed a project have reported that not only was there a tremendous sense of accomplishment by being able to help out their local community, but they also had a great time in doing so.”

For more information about the Community Sustainability Project program, visit