Gotta tell you, I’m not sure we’ve ever had three closer competitors for cover story status. It was pretty much a pick ’em situation. The ASHRAE 170 update from Gary Hamilton is obviously right on target for a health care issue and useful info. Our well written actual cover story presents a type of close-timeframe, dual-project endeavor we haven’t covered before.

And of course, Stephanie Taylor’s feature about hospital-acquired infections (HAI’s) had been on the schedule for months, ever since her “part one” in an earlier issue. Then, as is older and hopefully less pervasive news by the time you read this, Ebola hijacked much of the nation’s attention in the U.S.

Never say never, but at this point there is still no hard evidence to suggest that Ebola has changed or will change its basic mode of transmission. If my reading is correct, that change would also make the virus less potent, but the salient fact at this juncture is that history and current information points toward that leap never happening.

However, I concede that is splitting hairs — while Ebola is not airborne in the technical sense, one can catch it through the air in just the right circumstances. That is where Dr. Taylor’s feature comes in so handy. Don’t miss her perhaps surprising thoughts on the effects of room air changes, the benefits of proper humidity as an ally with good housekeeping, and one interesting question to ponder: when it comes to managing and writing standards and guidelines, have some engineers been conflating patient comfort with patient safety?

Bottom line: Beyond the month’s often speculative if not sensational headlines, HAIs have been and continue to generate real fatalities at an unacceptably steady clip. Learn what health care professionals and engineering can do to stop it.


The annual AHR/ASHRAE HVACapalooza is headed, in the words of late “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Farley … “BACK TO CHICAGO” this January. The bigger news: after a packed-room debut last year amid New York’s snow drifts, our live AHR session is also making the trip to Illinois. However, this year, we’re booking a bigger room for “Critical Cooling & Controls” as presented by ES and Mission Critical.

We’re still wrapping up the details on this free event, but I can now report a solid trio of presenters for your professional edification:

Vali Sorell – Vice President at Syska Hennessy Group, National Critical Facilities Chief Engineer (HVAC)

Paul Ehrlich – President and Founder, Building Intelligence Group, and of course our monthly building automation columnist.

Tom Squillo – Vice President, Mission Critical Group at Environmental Systems Design, Inc.

I hope the guys will forgive me for not including their professional accreditations in this small space; suffice it to say, they’ve got plenty. What I like here, beyond the differing amounts of experience at ES events, is that on top of their considerable project experience and industry knowledge, each presenter also brings a talent for distilling and conveying valuable information in an accessible fashion.

As you might surmise, the program should have plenty of relevance for the data center engineers out there but will not focus exclusively on that setting. The idea is — no matter the type of critical environment you work with — to identify opportunities to wrangle better efficiency out of your already demanding system or design parameters.

We’ve expanded to a 90-minute session this year (did I mention it’s free?), and we are again planning to offer professional credits for attendees. So further details shall be forthcoming, but for now, mark your calendar for Tuesday, January 27, and plan to join us right there in McCormick Place. Pick up some insights for your facility or next design, take the rare opportunity for some Q&A with the presenters, give your feet a respite … it’s all upside.