In Between Sessions with a Pair of ASHRAE Insiders

A visit to this year's ASHRAE Winter Meeting/AHR Expo in Orlando, Fla. revealed some pleasant and odd symmetry with last year's program in Anaheim: ideal weather; both took place in a county named Orange near a Disney theme park; and both took place in mammoth and relatively new convention centers. An unwelcome difference this year was that the exhibits and meetings were miles apart.

03/01/2005


A visit to this year's ASHRAE Winter Meeting/AHR Expo in Orlando, Fla. revealed some pleasant and odd symmetry with last year's program in Anaheim: ideal weather; both took place in a county named Orange near a Disney theme park; and both took place in mammoth and relatively new convention centers. An unwelcome difference this year was that the exhibits and meetings were miles apart.

In between forays onto the show floor and seminars at the conference hotel, a pair of ASHRAE insiders—Kent Peterson, P.E., chief engineer and principal with P2S Engineering, Long Beach, Calif., and Steven Taylor, P.E., principal with Taylor Engineering, Alameda, Calif., were gracious enough to break away from meetings to give CSE the scoop on various ASHRAE happenings.

An overarching goal of the society, according to Peterson, a former ASHRAE vice president, is to streamline the standards-making process and increase speed to publication. An effort to focus more on best practices, as opposed to minimum code requirements, he hopes, should help.

"ASHRAE needs to stay in the business of making standards," added Taylor, explaining that this is a key strength of the organization. And, apparently, the membership concurs, as Peterson pointed to a recent member survey that found that 98% of the more than 3,000 who responded agreed that standards are the society's best product.

That said, Peterson added that the process must stay the course. "What are the needs and how do we serve them?"

Speaking of surveys, he said a petition will soon be sent to members this spring to discuss whether ASHRAE should write a separate standard for the hospitality market.

One standard Peterson is keeping close tabs on is ASHRAE's 90.1 energy efficiency guideline. But he is calling on his engineering brethren to go the extra mile, noting the ease with which new and existing buildings can achieve usage 30% below 90.1. A part of this goal, he said, can be achieved by breaking the practice of oversizing mechanical systems. At the same time, engineers need to be wary of going too far, in that building owners and occupants will, "always try to stuff more people in a room than can fit." As such, he said, flexible, right-sized systems are key.

On a similar note, Taylor, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, urged his fellows to be more hands-on. "Get out there and see what you designed!" he exclaimed, noting the disconnect between engineers and their projects. This is particularly important, he urged, in the face of the trend toward third-party commissioning, which he said removes engineers even further from their work.





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