Engineers, contractors, and other building professionals gathered in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 23-26 for the first-ever HVACR Week. Consisting of HPAC Engineering's sixth annual Engineering Green Buildings (EGB) Conference and Expo and sister publication Contracting Business' 14th annual HVAC Comfortech and first Commercial HVACR Symposium, HVACR Week included educational sessions and workshops, product exhibitions, and networking opportunities.

HVACR Week began in earnest with a few righteous guitar riffs — appropriate for a convention held in Music City. Robin Crow, author, entrepreneur, and owner of Dark Horse Recording, used his mastery of the guitar and music-industry experience to relate to HVACR Week's attendees with his keynote address, “The Power of Service.”

Crow spoke about how leadership, responsibility, and exceeding client expectations can give businesses an edge in a tough economic climate.

“Many people want to wear the cloak of leadership, but with it comes the burden of responsibility,” Crow said. “We are living in a time in which we are going to have to become more efficient at every level.”

“(Crow's) message isn't new, but it is important,” HPAC Engineering Editorial Director Mike Weil said. “In this era of economic malady and severe budget constraints, it's not that customers won't spend dollars; they just need to feel good about it.”

The EGB Conference kicked off Sept. 24 with “Sustainable Design and Energy Retrofits: A Collaborative Digital Workflow,” sponsored by Autodesk. Robert E. Middlebrooks, AIA, an Autodesk industry-programs manager, and Lorisa L. Behrens, LEED AP, of Nashville-based engineering design and facility consulting firm Smith Seckman Reid Inc. discussed how conceptual design modeling and analysis tools can aid the design of more efficient sustainable buildings.

James D. Qualk, a vice president of Nashville-based commissioning provider SSRCx LLC, and Paul McCown, PE, LEED AP, CEM, CxA, a consulting engineer with SSRCx, discussed available research indicating that, contrary to popular belief, green building does not necessarily cost more than traditional strategies and techniques of building design and construction.

According to Qualk and McCown, 85 percent of building professionals believe Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification adds costs to their projects. However, one could conclude that regardless of the budget available, every facility — especially new construction — can have sustainable features. Further, if funds are spent wisely, basic LEED certification should not be an issue. When sustainable goals and building features are determined at the beginning of project design and building owners, designers, and engineers are on the same page during each stage of the process, dollars allocated for the project can be used more effectively. When the costs of going green are overestimated, barriers to sustainable building are created.

Next, Ben Erpelding, PE, CEM, director of engineering for Optimum Energy LLC and one of five HPAC Engineering Editorial Advisory Board members to present at the conference, discussed several cases from a range of U.S. climates in which 40- to 70-percent reductions in energy use were achieved by retrofitting chilled-water plants and variable-air-volume air-handling systems.

With more than 600 college and university presidents having signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, pledging to eliminate their campuses' greenhouse-gas emissions over time, Gerald J. Williams, PE, LEED AP, senior engineer for 8760 Engineering LLC, presented analytical tools for determining the greenhouse-gas production of various central-chilled-water-plant technologies.

Mark S. Lentz, PE, president of Lentz Engineering Associates Inc., debunked myths about the safety and applicability of evaporative cooling in his presentation, “Evaporative Cooling: The Greenest of HVAC Processes.”

Edward H. Brzezowski, PE, LEED AP, president of Noveda Technologies, discussed 31 Tannery in Branchburg, N.J., the first fully documented net-zero-electric commercial building in the United States, which he engineered.

Jim Seckel, PE, LEED AP, CxA, CBCP, a vice president of SSRCx, and Colleen Smith, PE, LEED AP, CxAP, a senior project manager for SSRCx, discussed the role commissioning plays in validating the performance and functionality of building systems and ensuring anticipated monetary and resource savings are realized.

The EGB Conference concluded with Ron Wilkinson, PE, LEED AP, LEED-commissioning project manager for AKF Group LLC, discussing how a building-management system (BMS) can be used to expedite the commissioning process for a green or sustainably designed building while training operations-and-maintenance personnel in BMS operation.

In addition to educational opportunities, attendees were able to spend time in the HVACR Week exhibition hall, inspecting firsthand some of the building industry's newest products while talking with manufacturers. More than 160 companies sponsored and/or exhibited at HVACR Week, including EGB Conference sponsors Autodesk and RenewAire Energy Recovery Ventilation.

“It's always refreshing to see new products and be able to speak directly to the people that manufacture or represent them,” HVACR Week attendee Ken Johnson, project estimator for GRP Mechanical Inc., said.

Social and networking functions — such as the Thursday Evening Extravaganza, which featured live music, dancing, and plenty of refreshments at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon — also were a highlight of HVACR Week.

With so much interest surrounding HVACR Week, plans already are being made for future events.

“The accommodations and general management of the conference and show was excellent,” Gary Wamsley, PE, CEM, president of JoGar Energy Services, said. “I have not been to any better presented and managed such event. The turnout was also excellent.”

CONTRACTING BUSINESS.COM & HPAC ENGINEERING'S HVACR WEEK 2010

HPAC Engineering's seventh-annual Engineering Green Buildings Conference and Expo, part of HVACR Week, will be coming to Baltimore in September 2010. Stay tuned to www.egbconference.com for announcements.