The 2020 AHR Expo Delivers Innovation and the Next Revolution of HVACR

Date: 19 February 2020
The 2020 AHR Expo Delivers Innovation and the Next Revolution of HVACR
Professionals from across HVACR descended upon the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, February 3-5 for the 2020 AHR Expo. Attendees and exhibitors engaged in three full days of innovation and learning and took an exciting look into the future of HVACR. Spread across 506,090 sq. ft., exhibitors on the Show floor delivered new and never-before seen products and tech, live demonstrations, networking opportunities and a revitalized energy for the future of the industry. In every education session, council talk, podcast broadcast, exhibitor event and long walk across the Show floor, one thing was abundantly clear — the HVACR revolution has arrived in full force.

“The energy on the Show floor this year was hard to miss. From corner to corner, in every booth, education session, event program, everywhere, it’s clear that this industry is alive and thriving,” said Mark Stevens, Show Manager. “Leading in to this Show we knew there were some big changes happening across the industry and we saw that reflected in Orlando. It is truly an exciting time to be a part of the HVACR community and, if 2020 is any indication, it is just getting started.”

The 2020 Show welcomed over 50,000 attendees, 1,900+ exhibiting companies —577 of which were international as well as 295 who were first time exhibitors. 

The 2020 Education Program

The 2020 Show featured more than 200 sessions in the Education Program. This year featured new sessions inspired by trends happening currently across HVACR, as well as those forecasted for the near future. Below is a summary of some of the topics discussed throughout the Show:

Private Equity 101: What HVACR Founders Need to Know

This session provided insight into private equity at a basic level understanding.Private equity is currently investing millions into small-to-medium sized founder-led HVAC companies. A panel of investors discussed the varying types of investor opportunities, how a company is valued and how the partnership process typically works. Attendees were left with an understanding of the options available through partnership in order to make decisions that best fit their business.

Skilled Labor! Overcome the Shortage to Protect Your Business

This session discussed the current state of the industry and the skilled labor shortage. Eighty-two percent (82%) of CEOs report that the skilled labor shortage is a significant business issue. Melissa Boutwell, President at Automation Strategy and Performance, presented attendees with a discussion of why this is happening, how we can prepare as an industry and what some organizations are currently doing to secure current and future market positions.

Building for a Climate Emergency

Ken Sinclair of led a discussion titled Building for a Climate Emergency. In it, he discussed the declaration of a “Climate Emergency” by over 400 global cities and how it relates to an enormous opportunity for the automation industry as local governments gear up to tackle this challenge. With recent legislation from municipal governments targeting residential and commercial buildings, both new and existing, with aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, the widespread deployment of state-of-the-art controls systems will be essential to achieving these targets.

Council Talks

2020 was the first year the Show hosted education sessions led by members of the AHR Expo Expert Council. The Council is a collaboration of HVACR experts and thought leaders launched by the AHR Expo in 2019 to educate and stimulate discussion concerning the biggest issues impacting the industry. Their sessions covered a wide range of industry topics addressing what’s next for HVACR professionals in the coming year. Highlights included:

Obstacles and Opportunities for HVACR in the Next Decade

Panel speakers in this session took an in-depth look at what obstacles and opportunities lie ahead for the next decade of HVACR. Speakers shared different perspectives on speeding up time to value creation, increased focus on well-being and productivity, and the skill-shortage gap in the industry. Panel moderator Nicolas Waern, the Nordic “Building Whisperer,” also provided insight on HVACR in Europe, specifically the Nordics and Sweden.

2020 - Pivoting Towards a Post Carbon World and Impacts to the HVAC Industry

This session covered the pivotal effects mitigating climate change has made to the industry and how the 2020 roadmap will look going forward. As more progressive cities and outspoken younger generations across the world continue to focus on climate change, HVACR is adapting for a 2050 carbon neutral world that’s 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times, and outlined how 2020 marks a significant year in this adaptation. This session was led by Luke Leung, PE, LEED Fellow and Director of Sustainable Engineering at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP.

Update on Refrigerants: Past, Present and Future

This session, led by Eckhard Groll, William E. and Florence E. Perry Head of Mechanical Engineering and Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue College of Engineering, provided a detailed review of current and past refrigeration technology and how it can inform refrigerant technologies of the future. Due to the phase-out of ozone-depleting CFC and HCFC refrigerants, refrigeration and air conditioning sciences have been in a state of flux, and environmental concerns have sparked industrywide interest in using substances that are naturally occurring in the biosphere as refrigerants. Many of these natural working fluids were commonly used in refrigeration technology in the late 1800’s, and this session emphasized that when looking at the refrigerants of the future, it is essential to understand which substances have been used in the past.

Product and Technology Presentations

The 2020 Show also featured more 100 Product and Technology presentations given by exhibitors. The twenty-minute presentations were spread out over the three days and drew crowds into three theaters just off the exhibitor floor. Much like the Innovation Awards program, the products and technologies featured showcased real progress in HVACR and gave a preview to some exciting things ahead for HVACR.

Between the exhibitor booths, education sessions and product and technology presentations, this year presented a number of changes and immense growth within the HVACR industry. The trends exhibited at this year’s Show point towards an equally successful year for the 2021 AHR Expo.

“If the 2020 AHR Expo is any indication of where HVACR is headed, this industry is on the path to exciting things,” concluded Stevens. “We look forward to following along as we head into the 2021 Show in Chicago!”

2021 AHR Expo to be held January 25-27 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago.
Find out more on our website about: HVAC, refrigeration, air conditioning, AHR Expo

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