I have to confess that I'm pretty excited about this year's ASHRAE Winter Meeting and AHR Expo. I'm taking my wife, and I'm confident it will qualify as a second honeymoon. As everyone knows, when it comes to romance, you just can't beat "the show." I imagine that somewhere between the cold storage facility tour and the BACnet seminar, she will softly whisper in my ear, "Remind me again why I married an engineer?"

The truth is it's much more likely that my wife will dump me and go shop the Miracle Mile while I roam the McCormick aisles alone. And while the show isn't really about romance, it is about maximum exposure to all things HVAC. Moreover, if you think that the only thing sustainable in the Second City in January is the icy wind off Lake Michigan, have I got a surprise for you. With the show comes a bevy of opportunities to get a little greener.

Leverage The Show

I have found that the best way of getting mileage from the show is to figure out what types of equipment I want to get more familiar with before I go. And how do I figure out what equipment I want to see? Well, one method is to do a tie-in with the ASHRAE Meeting; in essence I try to go see equipment about which I plan to learn.

For example, at the ASHRAE meeting there will be a "Fundamentals of Panel Heating and Cooling" short course and two seminars dealing with radiant heating and cooling. Regarding energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) there will be the "Understanding and Designing Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems" short course, which is predicated on the innovative use of ERVs, a forum on Standard 90.1 and energy recovery ventilation requirements, and a seminar on what you need to know about the new ARI-certified ratings for ERVs.

Get A Lead On Leed

Perhaps you have been wondering what all this LEED stuff is about. Green folks casually throw around the term as if everyone knows what it is, but not everyone does (quick, what does LEED actually stand for?).

As an example, two years ago when the show was in Atlanta, I sat through an entire seminar and heard LEED this and LEED that, and it wasn't until the Q&A session that I was able to finally ask what in the world it was. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask how it was spelled, so I was in the dark for a few more weeks.

A great introduction to LEED and green building design in general is the short course "Green Buildings and Sustainable Construction." If you want to see what a LEED building really looks like, there will be a tour of the Pharmacia "Q" Lab building that attained an impressive gold rating.

And on a tangent to LEED, there will be a seminar on "Tax Policies to Encourage Energy Efficient and High Performance Buildings." This is of particular interest since LEED is often the benchmarking tool (or serves as the basis for the program-specific metrics) that is used by these and other programs that either encourage or mandate sustainable design.

Simulation Stimulation

If you want to make the case for green, quite often it comes down to a matter of money. And the only way to make that case convincingly is through life cycle cost analysis and building simulation. A nice one-two introductory punch available at the show is the "Life Cycle Cost Analysis" short course and the "Getting Started with Building Simulation" seminar.

Bottom Line

You or your company has dropped some cash to send you to this event. Don't you owe it to the shareholders, or at least your conscience, to make the most of it? We all have primary assignments and objectives at the show, but it might be smart to get a little greener in your spare time.

If you are reading this article before the show, check out ASHRAE's technical program, short course listings, and meeting information at www.ashrae.org/MEET/CH-MeetingInfo.htm. You can find vendor and show information at www.ahrexpo.com. If you just picked up this issue of ES on the Expo show floor, catch a cab over to the Palmer House Hilton and crash the ASHRAE party. Grab an itinerary and catch what you can.

And if you happen to see some dork serenading his wife at the food court overlooking the booths, wish me luck.ES