The largest HVACR event of the year, the 2024 AHR Expo returns to the Windy City Jan. 22-24, while the co-located 2024 ASHRAE Winter Conference will take place Jan. 20-24 at the Marriott Marquis Chicago.
After several years of declining participation of in-person meetings and tradeshows following the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries are seeing a resurgence of attendance for these live events.
“Conferences and Trade Shows are growing around the globe as a place where like-minded people can meet, make connections, build networks and form meaningful relationships,” says John Mullen, director of technical services and research for IAPMO, in the 2024 AHR Expo Trends Report.
Since the AHR Expo’s last visit to Chicago in 2021, the HVACR industry has been recalibrating to the new norm following the pandemic, according to Nicole Bush, director of marketing for the AHR Expo.
“The last two shows, we’ve seen a strong resurgence in people getting back out there and capitalizing on the opportunity to meet in person,” she says. “We’re looking forward to seeing more of the industry taking advantage of the value of this experience.”
Bush adds that Chicago has sold out of exhibitor space for the 2024 event, with more than 1,835 exhibitors.
“Attending industry events is a great way to gain deeper understanding and knowledge of the industry, products and technology,” she says. “As a community, we share information in many ways throughout the year, AHR Expo is the one event where it all comes together along with everyone in the industry coming together.”
Educational opportunities in Chicago
As the largest industry event of the year, the co-located ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo provide numerous educational opportunities for attendees. For ASHRAE, many of its sessions are geared toward addressing the pressing challenges of decarbonization and climate change.
“As the urgency of building decarbonization and the impact of climate change continue to drive change, the HVACR industry stands at the forefront of efforts to develop efficient, sustainable built environment solutions,” notes Ginger Scroggins, president of ASHRAE, in the AHR Expo Trends Report.
The 2024 ASHRAE Winter Conference will feature 11 technical tracks and over 100 sessions, offering attendees a wealth of knowledge and insights. Participants will have the opportunity to earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs) while exploring tracks such as Decarbonization and Climate Change, Clean Spaces and Mission Critical Facilities, Tall Buildings Design, Artificial Intelligence, Refrigeration and Refrigerants and more.
“The conference gives attendees an unparalleled opportunity to discover practical and timely solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing the built environment,” says Suzanne LeViseur, 2024 ASHRAE Winter Conference chair, in a news release. “ASHRAE’s decarbonization focus is included within all of the technical tracks, so that we can provide effective strategies on a variety of topics through the conference sessions.”
The ASHRAE Learning Institute will offer 18 courses during the conference. All courses are approved for continuing education credits toward maintaining P.E. licensure. Four new courses are being offered:
- Starting the Path to Net-Zero Buildings Using ASHRAE 90.1-2022;
- Understanding ASHRAE Standard 241 Control of Infectious Aerosols – Background, Overview, and Key Requirements;
- V in HVAC – Health and Energy Improvements Using the Indoor Air Quality Procedures; and
- Is Your Building Ready? Applying ASHRAE Standard 241 Control of Infectious Aerosols – Facility Assessment, Planning, and Implementation.
Click here to view the full technical program lineup.
This year’s AHR Expo Educational Program will feature more than 110 free seminars, as well as a robust panel series lineup, new product and technology presentations, professional certifications and continuing education courses.
“As always, there are so many conversations happening around the industry, and it's fortunate we have the opportunity to meet in person and discuss these with our professional colleagues,” Bush says. “Our exhibitors will be demonstrating products and technology, and we’ll have dedicated sessions in our education programming. You can find information on just about any topic you’re seeking, whether it be business management, product application, trending topic, niche discipline, etc. Our program this year has more than 260 free sessions between our Panel Series, Free Industry Sessions and New Product Theaters.”
In 2022, the AHR Expo launched a panel discussion among leaders representing every sector of the industry. As the first large event following the pandemic, the panel served as a recalibration of all that was happening across the industry as a result. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the benefit to the industry led to open communication throughout the remainder of the year. In 2024, Bryan Orr, of HVAC School, returns to moderate the 2024 State of the Industry panel discussion with leaders from ASHRAE, AHRI, HARDI, NCI, ASHB etc., regarding the current challenges, opportunities, and forecasts for the year ahead in HVACR. Expected topics include changing regulations, the economic forecast including inflation and tariffs, the green transition, the supply chain, and more. Speakers on this panel include Scroggins; Dominick Guarino, president and CEO of National Comfort Institute; Greg Walker, CEO of ASHB; Steve Yurek, CEO of AHRI; and Talbot Gee, CEO of HARDI.
Another panel discussion, “Heat Pumps, Electrification, and the Grid,” will address how best to deploy heat pumps in retrofit projects while addressing two major barriers to electrification — electrifying at the building level without costly upgrades to infrastructure, and electrifying at the grid level without stressing out the grid by adding load in the peak utility demand periods. Speakers on this panel include Mark Frankel, chair of ASHRAE’s TFBD Heat Pump Working Group; Jon Heller, president at Ecotope; Rand Conger, Johnson Barrow; and Sean Jarvie, Flow Environmental Systems.
To view the full 2024 panel series, click here.
As previously mentioned, the 2024 show will also feature more than 110 free sessions led by industry experts. Sessions will range from one to two hours and address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges and exciting opportunities. Attendees are invited to attend general HVACR-related sessions, as well as those specific to professional practice areas.
“The Education Programming is a means to learn trends, tips, and growth strategies for the professional and the business,” said Kimberly Pires, AHR Expo Education Program director. “Our associations are in tune with what is current in their areas of the industry, and this program is the culmination of full industry learning. Our sessions aim to provide diverse perspectives from every professional and perspective in HVACR. The opportunity for shared insight supports healthy communication and growth within the industry.”
Click here to view the full program.
Must-see events on the show floor
AHR Expo attendees will have the opportunity to attend several events on the trade show floor. Attendees are encouraged to sit in on exhibitor presentations in the New Product Theater. More than 145 presentations lasting approximately 20 minutes each are planned across all three days of the show. These free seminars will provide brief overviews of new product announcements and technologies that can be found in exhibitor booths on the show floor. Attendees are invited to follow up presentations with a visit to the booth for a more in-depth explanation and 1:1 interaction with products and representatives. These sessions are set to take place in special theaters right on the exhibit floor. No fee or registration is required.
Additionally, Caleffi Hydronic Solutions will host an educational session in its booth (#S7981), “Bridging the Knowledge Gap,” on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. CT. The session will feature famed Carlson-Holohan award winners interviewed by PM Engineer’s Next Gen All Stars honorees.
“Last year at the AHR Expo in Atlanta, David Hughes was presented with the distinguished Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence,” says Mary Olson, director of communications and brand marketing, Caleffi North America. “Caleffi was honored to host the event as the iconic award founders and past recipients presented the award to David. With a commitment to encourage and support emerging talent in the industry, Caleffi came to the realization that an inspiring — and sure to be entertaining — combination could be formed by having Carlson-Holohan alumni share their secrets of success with PM Engineer's Next Gen All Stars. Thus the idea was conceived. Our audience will be inspired by a thoughtful interview from a selection of aspiring Next Gen All Stars as the honorees reminisce about the start of their careers, share memorable and applicable lessons learned along the way, and shed light on the secrets to their success.”
“Bridging the Knowledge Gap” is one of three scheduled Coffee with Caleffi LIVE events which will be held on the trade show floor. These events are intended for contractors, designers, engineers and wholesalers.
Olson notes that Caleffi is a growing global company specializing in engineered solutions for hydronics and plumbing systems, so it is important to participate in shows like the AHR Expo.
“Our presence in North America continues to inform industry decision-makers of our influence and capabilities for benefiting attendees in their jobs including product innovation, a passionate support staff and our commitment to provide educational resources,” she says. “We hope to accomplish a favorable impression about what Caleffi offers for the benefit of show visitors. Our intention is to strengthen relationships with industry players including fellow manufacturers.”
Trends to watch
In the AHR Expo Trends Report, Scroggins notes that “the HVACR industry is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by technological advancements and a heightened focus on sustainability. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, the industry has shifted its gaze towards developing innovative solutions that not only provide optimal comfort but also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The 2024 trends ASHRAE notes in the report include building decarbonization, electrification and heat pumps, refrigeration and regulation updates, living healthy and IAQ and green transition.
“ASHRAE has taken a proactive approach to advance building decarbonization efforts through the development of comprehensive standards and guidance,” Scroggins says in the trends report. “The ASHRAE Task Force on Building Decarbonization published the “Building Performance Standards: A Technical Resource Guide,” which was developed to provide a technical basis for policymakers, building owners, practitioners and other stakeholders interested in developing and implementing a BPS policy. ASHRAE has actively championed the adoption of electric technologies such as the integration of electric heat pumps, electric boilers and other solutions that not only enhance energy efficiency but align with sustainable practices. Additionally, ASHRAE is addressing the greenhouse gas emissions of refrigerants in Standards 15 (Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems) and 34 (Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants). Refrigerant leakage is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions each year and our Task Force for Building Decarbonization is discussing how to address this issue.”
The past year also saw several large industry mergers and acquisitions, the most recent news came in December with GF Piping Systems announcing its acquisition of Uponor.
“We approached Uponor's CEO and chair of the board almost two years ago with the idea of enhancing strategic cooperation,” notes Angela Sampaio, national sales director, pre-insulated piping systems, GF Piping Systems Americas. “We had been looking for acquisitions that complement our own business. We knew Uponor quite well in advance, as it is a world-class player in the piping business, so it seemed natural to approach it. Uponor’s products and markets were highly complementary to our own. Our combined offerings for building technology now provide both centralized and decentralized solutions for hot- and cold-water distribution. For utilities and infrastructure, we can offer comprehensive solutions for pressure and flow chambers as well as network performance and rehabilitation. Together, we can offer our customers a global presence while leveraging our strengths in innovation and our shared commitment to sustainability and ESG.
“The acquisition of Uponor is a major step to accelerate the implementation of Strategy 2025, our drive to become a sustainability and innovation leader providing superior customer value,” she continues. “Our portfolio will be strengthened, and our global presence will increase. Both companies are well positioned to benefit from global long-term trends, such as rising demand for energy-efficient buildings, refurbished urban infrastructure, energy transition or fast-growing digitalization.”
Sampaio explains the AHR Expo is an important event for both GF Piping and Uponor, given that the event is the chosen meeting place for decision-makers in the HVACR market to learn about current trends, industry developments and solutions.
“We hope to bring awareness to the vast portfolio of pre-insulated solutions that can be provided with the recognized quality level of GF Piping Systems,” she says. “There are several trends impacting the industry in 2024, including heat recovery, energy efficiency, off-site fabrication, less time on-site, reduced time to market and the reduction of maintenance operations and cost.
“We plan to address these trends with demos of installation as well as reference cases for the various solutions that will show the difference in the installation time and the quality of installation compared to post-insulated systems,” Sampaio adds. “The expertise of our team in the booth will allow for quick answers to the visitors’ questions as well as sharing experience of other users with identical projects and requirements. We’re looking forward to reinforcing the longtime existing relations with users, installers and decision makers and generate new successful ones.”
Government policies and social consciousness have driven designers to prioritize energy efficiency and natural resource conservation, according to Olson. “However, manufacturers and influencers face challenges in delivering quality systems due to a shortage of skilled labor. Caleffi is launching a comprehensive campaign called The Caleffi Green, which aims to showcase the company’s sustainability-focused initiatives. These initiatives, both current and future, are designed to promote environmental consciousness and responsible practices.
“Besides the enjoyable meeting of customers, prospects and service providers that only this show can accommodate, we are also looking forward to confirmation that the year ahead is going to be healthy by way of the excitement and engagement of show attendees,” she adds.
For more information on the ASHRAE Winter Conference, visit www.ashrae.org/conferences/2024-winter-conference-chicago. For more information on the AHR Expo, visit www.ahrexpo.com.