Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Lone Ranger…?

Why wasn’t your President in Davos as an Award Winning Global Thought Leader you must be asking yourself?  I was of course, instead in Dallas, at the ASHRAE Winter Conference. Where else? If Davos was as smart as it claims it would form a Swiss ASHRAE Chapter and cut the clash. I returned packed with new wisdom and quips, care of the opening session’s dynamic guest speaker Superbowler Rocky Bleier. Let’s start with:

‘The Steelers’ were a tough team from a tough city. You played them and you got beat real bad. The only problem was that they didn’t ever win. They never had a plan’

Isn’t the trip from the airport to an unfamiliar city something that frames your view for days? Empty dual carriageways and regimented palms and you would be heading towards a despot’s palace. Mass illegal housing and you are heading towards to ‘rapidly developing country’.  Uxbridge from the Piccadilly line versus the Shanghai Maglev (when it is working) – say no more.  For Dallas you get interstate junctions flying over your head and single rise strip malls selling pick-ups and mattresses. Then suddenly the building code flips and it is a central business district of 77 storey buildings, thrusting up from the soil like enormous blackened quartz crystals. Dallas, as a young engineer from New York remarked to me, is ‘strange and big’.

How many Steelers fans do you need to change a light bulb? Unfortunately, five: One to change the bulb and four more to remind him how good the 70’s were.

The ASHRAE Semi-Annual always seems an out of body experience, partly from jet lag, but also because in practicality it has to do all its half year business in 5 days. So working groups, technical committees are all over the place organised to an interlocked timetable that would do an Academy Head credit. Well it was more over lots of floors not all over the place, because big US Cities boast these large monolithic conference hotels. There was even a downloadable App this year to help delegates find their designated room. Meetings start really early - some at 6:30am - so only the Brits are bushy tailed.  Any ASHRAE Member who saw your President eating his way through the whole plate of breakfast pastries at the Advocacy Committee, need to remember 6am was actually his lunch break.

Don’t let things get complex, the simpler your plan the more people you can bring with you

ASHRAE and CIBSE perform slightly different functions but share uncannily similar perspectives, perhaps because we work in a global industry. ASHRAE’s emerging set of advocacy priorities look very similar to those of CIBSE Board. That’s a relief! So what is going on?

ASHRAE has long been associated with codifying what should happen in HVAC design. Its Standard 90.1 has been the mother of all asset rating systems in the US. But the US like Europe is beginning to face up to X-Files’ ‘Nothing is as it Seems’. High performance designs do not always lead to high performance buildings. Sessions on commissioning were springing up all over the place. ASHRAE looks all set to plough straight into the building performance linebackers (if I’ve got the terminology right). 

England and Wales, even though they would fit into the top left hand corner of Texas, have a march on the US debate with the awesome Display Energy Certificate database. CIBSE trailed its potential at a well attended session. But much as my grandfather’s generals thought stopping for tea was the next step having landed at Gallipoli, England and Wales seem to think that goldplating is more an issue than rolling forward improved efficiency. New York is being joined by other US cities with ambitious Big Data plans for buildings’ real energy consumption that will soon leave us far behind.

CIBSE had its convivial semi-annual liaison meeting with ASHRAE, having welcomed the current President as an MCIBSE, and look forward to working with the new President (by which time I’ll be ‘immediately past’ it).  Left Texas happy not to see rib eye steak for a while, but fired up.

Every day some of your cells replace themselves. Some part of you is lost from memory and that part must be reborn. It happens everyday.

…Attached to the ASHRAE Semi-annual is a very large H&V exhibition. More butterfly valves than you’d find in a lepidopterarium. It’s enormous and boutique, and more than just a place to pick up a year’s supply of complimentary memory sticks. So the CIBSE Specialist Correspondent Young Engineer of the Year will be posting a guest blog shortly….

 

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