AHR Expo Returns to Atlanta

The 2019 AHR Expo returned to Atlanta for the first time since 2001, and by all accounts the show delivered. This year the show floor exhibited 1,824 companies from across the industry, including 497 international exhibitors, bringing together technology and product advancement. Throughout the three-day show there was an energy felt for the future of HVACR among attendees and exhibitors alike.

“The HVACR industry is in a very exciting position at the moment and that energy was evident on the show floor this year,” says Mark Stevens, show manager of AHR Expo. “Attendees came from all over the globe and from every corner of the industry to make this show a success. We’ve received great feedback on the quality of networking from both attendees and exhibitors and look forward to seeing many of these connections come to life in the products and technologies on the show floor in Orlando, next year.”

2019 AHR Expo by the Numbers

This year the AHR Expo used radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to verify attendance, which allows for the scanning in of each person without stalling the crowd and creating long wait times. This means that the show was able to generate a true capture of every attendee that walked through the door, spent time on the exhibitor floor as well as in education sessions. In previous years the show relied on pre-registration and on-site registration to quantify attendance. The 2019 numbers are strong, with a total verified attendance of 45,078.

“The planning of the show has always been focused on creating the best experience for our exhibitors and attendees. We recognized the benefit of verifying attendees long before the technology allowed us to do it in a way that didn’t interrupt the experience we wanted to create for those who travel to be here,” says Stevens. “We want our attendees and exhibitors networking, capturing leads, learning, interacting and focused on their day rather than waiting at the gate to be scanned in. The new verified technology allows us to do just that.”

Education Program Highlights

The 2019 AHR Expo Education Program covered a range of topics, providing insights for all AHR stakeholders into market trends, tips to building a business, energy savings, as well as industry best practices. Highlights from the show include:

Smart home: Best opportunities research Research unveiled at AHR Expo pinpointed a course forward for smart home technology deployments. The upshot, multi-dwelling units (MDUs) remain underserved due to the varieties of end-user requirements. At the same time, they sit at the intersection of the single family, who benefits most from smart home innovation, and commercial buildings, sharing characteristics of each. MDUs have the size to invest in new technology, a connection to resident satisfaction and direct involvement of senior management for investment decisions. This makes MDUs the spot where smart home innovation and experimentation can take root. (Presenter: Continental Automated Buildings Association)

Cybersecurity: Prioritize developing a defense in depth A strong to action kicked off this session, underscored by a roll call of blue-chip companies suffering billions in losses due to data breaches, including the $520 million Target breach caused by a compromised HVAC subcontractor’s PC and login credential. Attendees learned a step by step plan for developing a strong cybersecurity defense. Recommended best practices are separating network traffic for automation and control systems (ACS) from the internet and other operations; communications encryption and two-factor authentication for remote access; role-based access control limiting where people can go in the network; and integrating security and information and event management (SIEM) systems to help detect attacks as they happen before the damage is done. (Sponsor: BACnet International Presenter: Schneider Electric)

Contractors: Growing sales by saving customers money This tutorial case study explained how to deliver energy savings, and sell additional services, by expanding balancing tests and remediation services. The presentation showed how adding tests provided additional diagnostics information that can help identify problems and create opportunities to sell correctional services. The results can improve actual system performance from 50 percent to 85 percent of rated and deliver energy savings. (Sponsor: BACnet International Presenter: Schneider Electric)

Green cooling: Policy impact on natural refrigerants The policy impact on driving markets to replace high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs is essential for change cannot be overstated. In the EU, for example, a 1,000 percent increase in prices for high GWP HFCs is prompting a move to natural refrigerants in supermarkets. As a result, of the 20,000 supermarkets and c-stores worldwide that use natural refrigerants, 16,000 are in Europe and 3,500 in Japan. Only 370 are installed in the U.S. Policy leaders in this area are the state of California, the EU and Japan. China is also getting on board and beginning to push natural refrigerants. (Presenter: shecco America)

Buildings and employees: How better buildings improve productivity and job satisfaction New research presented at AHR Expo showed that building quality ranked second in contributing to employee satisfaction and productivity when benchmarked against other traditional employee perks such as bonuses, fitness benefits and flexible work hours. Only private work offices topped building quality by a slim margin. Since 80 percent of most organizations budget is spent on staff and 10 percent on buildings, spending more on providing a quality work building environment to get more loyalty and productivity from staff makes sense. (Presenter: Continental Automated Buildings Association)

Green buildings and energy savings: Reducing Cooling Operating Costs by 40 Percent Two post-installation case studies showed how both a 250- and a 500-ton closed circuit cooling tower chillers reduced energy consumption by 48 percent, lowered energy demand in peak periods and reduced annual operating costs. (Presenter: Cooling Technology Institute)

Personal health: Indoor air quality for a healthy lifestyle Air pollutants that can threaten your health are two to 10 times worse indoors than outdoors. The four most dangerous indoor pollutants are tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, radioactive Radon gas and particulate matter that if large enough, can directly enter the bloodstream and cause health problems. New IoT devices can help address these concerns and better protect people indoor with sensors that monitor air quality and send alerts to homeowners. (Sponsor: Indoor Air Quality Association Presenter: Refresh Smart Home)

2019 Innovation Awards Product of the Year

The AHR Expo awarded its Product of the Year award for 2019 to enVerid Systems. enVerid was also recognized as the winner of the 2019 Innovations Awards Green Building category for its HVAC Load Reduction (HLR) Module 1000E-M. Each year, winners are selected in a total of 10 industry categories. A ceremony hosted during the AHR Expo recognizes all winners from these categories and an overall Product of the Year winner is chosen.

“Being named Product of the Year is an enormous honor and extremely gratifying to our entire team,” says Dr. Udi Meirav, founder and president of enVerid Systems. “But even more importantly, it is a recognition of the transformative potential of HLR technology for the entire industry. We hope this will further encourage the industry to accelerate the adoption of HLR-based designs of HVAC systems and bring its phenomenal benefits to buildings all over the world.”

A Word from Attendees

“I come to the AHR Expo for the education it provides me in my everyday service to my customers. It is a day or two away from my business, but the payback in my service after coming from the show is immeasurable. I learn more in two days’ time than I did in the six months of my training. What’s more is the follow up from vendors has been amazing, they are sharing so many useful and educational materials even now that I’m home that I can immediately apply to my practice. Every conversation I had was helpful and enthusiastic, even if I don’t use the product right away, I’ve made a useful networking connection. Some of the things I see on the exhibitor floor I am already using, some I know of and haven’t yet and there are some things that I didn’t even know existed that I could be using. I came to the 2019 show looking for a solution to an issue I had moving fresh air into a new build in a more cost-effective way. I found a product right there on the floor and my problem is now solved at a much lower cost for my customer. This show is beneficial to my business and to my professional career,” says Timothy Snodgrass, owner of Velvet Ridge Services LLC.

“I’ve attended the AHR Expo for the past 10 years. As an OEM product development engineer, I find it’s a convenient place to meet all of our suppliers in one place. I’m also able to stay up-to-date on the latest technological developments and source new components for my designs. I can meet up with any customers or potential customers to discuss the heat pumps we manufacture,” says Dan Rheault, product development engineer, Maritime Geothermal Ltd.

“We come to the AHR Expo year after year because we are looking for the newest devices and software programs that are in our commercial buildings. We integrate new technologies for our customers so that they can use the app-based services via the Internet of Things and cloud-based services. This show is really the place where you can get all this information in a day or two, look at what is happening in the industry and really know where the industry is going. We are at the forefront of exciting things happening for manufacturing and HVAC as a whole,” says Michael Youngs, vice president of sales, commercial for Motili, a Daikin Co.

A Word from Exhibitors

“The AHR Expo is a great opportunity to meet and interact with our core contractor and distribution audience in one place. It presents an opportunity in the industry to meet with a large volume over three days; our booth traffic was strong. This year we were able to introduce key changes made to the Magic-Pak M-Series in compliance with the 2019 DOE requirements. It was a great show for many reasons and we look forward to benefiting from it into 2019, as well as exhibiting at the 2020 show,” says Samantha Walker of Magic-Pak, an Allied Air Enterprises LLC brand.

“This was a good show for us, even considering this is a Southern region show which is typically slower for us since we are primarily a heating equipment manufacturer. We had good numbers and a steady flow in the booth on day one. We really enjoyed and appreciated the show app and its capabilities this year because we could easily organize our leads and send them off to the appropriate sales contact directly from the show floor. We’ll be back in Orlando in 2020 and we look forward to a busy year ahead with the leads we’re taking away from Atlanta,” says David Walsh, vice president of sales, USA, NTI Boilers.

What’s Ahead for HVACR?

Industry trends that are expected to play a role in the coming year were discussed on the show floor and in the education sessions. Among these are alternative refrigerants; job force replenishment and recruiting into the HVACR industry; whole-building systems operations; and the Internet of Things and building automation control (BAC). Another topic of discussion was the role of HVACR in new markets, such as health and wellness, cloud-based systems and food production via controlled climates. Follow along with AHR Expo throughout the year to track these trends.

The next AHR Expo will be held Feb. 3-5, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.

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