ASHRAE's 2019-2020 president Darrell Boyce’s term has been unlike any other who's served before him.

Boyce began his presidency with a spirited campaign to engage ASHRAE members at last year’s summer meeting. Since then, he’s made 15 separate appearances in nine countries, including stops at seven chapter regional conferences. During ASHRAE’s Summer Virtual Conference, Boyce addressed the organization for the final time as president during his keynote address on June 29.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and a calm and steady hand was needed that society's helm, Darrell’s voice was ready,” said Jeff Littleton, executive vice president, ASHRAE. “Darryl has been busy; he's been physically and virtually unstoppable. He truly represents the amazing volunteer spirit that makes ASHRAE so special, and the society will forever be a better organization thanks to his leadership.”

Much like the rest of the world, ASHRAE’s day-to-day direction was tilted upside-down in early March, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The society's traditional, in-person annual meeting was replaced with a substantial virtual conference; free online handbook access was made available to all members; virtual meeting resources were provided to chapters and regions; remote proctoring of certification exams was implemented; and an Epidemic Task Force was formed to marshal the necessary technical resources in the battle against COVID-19.

“A priority of ours was to present guidance on how to ensure buildings are prepared for future epidemics,” Boyce said. “Out of this urgency for some guidance, the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force was established to help deploy ASHRAE’s technical resources to address the challenges of the current pandemic and future epidemics as it relates to the effects of HVAC on disease transmission and health care facilities, the workplace, home, public, and recreational environments. The Epidemic Task Force has worked tirelessly to provide pertinent information to industry professionals and to the general public. Their guidance has been seen by over 500 million people globally and represents operational excellence in action.”

Throughout his tenure, Boyce has been among the leading volunteers devoted to fundraising for ASHRAE’s new global headquarters, which is due to be completed in October. The facility, designed to serve as a state-of-the-art energy-efficient office building renewal and renovation, will be built ready to harness on-site energy production, turning the investment into a certified high-performance, net-zero-energy-ready building.

Boyce has spent 13 of the past 23 years serving on the ASHRAE board of directors, making him among the longest standing board members. His theme of “Building for People and Performance, Achieving Operational Excellence” has stood as a constant reminder that building occupants are the most important component of any building. As president, he has consistently aimed to effectively inspire the people who live, work, and interact in the buildings they create.

“It has been an honor to serve as president of this great organization,” Boyce said. “As president, I've had the privilege of visiting with ASHRAE members across numerous chapters and had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of meetings. I've had a chance to share my childhood memories of being around large equipment and the rugged individuals who operated and maintained that equipment. And, most importantly, I got to discuss ideas surrounding our focus for the society -- building for people and performance, achieving operational excellence, and sharing this focus on operational excellence with ASHRAE members and industry stakeholders.”

In the last year, ASHRAE has added five new chapters, including three chapters in India and two chapters located in Oman and Libya, bringing the society to a total of 197 chapters globally. Sections in Abuja, Vietnam, and Ghana were added for a total of 32 ASHRAE sections. Additionally, 26 new student branches were added in the 2019-2020 time frame.The organization also continued to grow its partnerships and relationships in 2019-2020 through nine signed memoranda of understanding.

As the nation continues to adjust to a post-pandemic world, all indications are that operational performance will continue to be one of the driving forces in the built environment through standards, guidelines, training, and groundbreaking research. Since 1959, ASHRAE has sponsored more than 900 research projects with a combined value of approximately $78 million. Currently, ASHRAE supports more than 55 active research projects with a combined value of more than $8.9 million.

Existing standards and guidelines are being revised, new standards are being produced, and many research projects are underway to expand ASHRAE’s technical knowledge. In January, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a final rule, clarifying that it must meet a statutory requirements to adopt ASHRAE commercial building energy efficiency Standard 90.1’s energy conservation levels in April. In May, ASHRAE published and released Guideline 12, providing updated guidance in the control of Legionella associated with building water systems.

Under Boyce’s guidance, ASHRAE also continued to showcase past-president Sheila Hayter’s “New Energy Future” through the release of a publication by the same name as well as a smart grid application guide. An additional guide focused on designing for operational excellence is scheduled to be released this fall.

In June of 2007, the society released its “ASHRAE Vision 2020 — Producing Net-Zero Energy Buildings” document. Boyce has since appointed an ASHRAE Vision 2030 presidential ad hoc committee to ensure the organization is preparing its members, and the society as a whole, to lead the transition to the future of buildings by 2030.

“This is another example of ASHRAE’s forward-thinking leadership,” Boyce said. “I've had the pleasure of being actively involved in ASHRAE for many years now and I must say, it is the passion of our volunteer leaders that keeps our society vibrant and impactful to the communities we serve. As we navigate life in a complicated, dynamic world, we all have had to change the way that we do business, raise families, interact with each other, and learn like the rest of the world.”

The year 2020 is the first time ASHRAE has not hosted an in-person annual conference since 1959. The organization’s ability to quickly package the conference into a completely virtual event further demonstrates the society’s continuous evolution and unflinching willingness to serve the built environment.

“My journey as president has shown me that through the work of our amazing volunteers around the world, we can and will do better for those who operate our buildings,” Boyce said. “While I am truly disappointed that I was not able to connect with more of our amazing members in person, I did appreciate the warm welcome I received from our members and associated organizations when I was able to travel. I intend to continue working with ASHRAE to ensure operational excellence for the buildings we create because our work as a society is good for buildings, it's good for the people who live and work within those buildings, and it moves us closer to achieving our vision of providing a healthy and sustainable built environment for all. Thank you for allowing me to be your president this year.”