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Mick Schwedler, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, LEED AP
2021-22 ASHRAE President Farewell Address

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Mick Schwedler, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, LEED AP
2021-22 ASHRAE President | Farewell Address
Personal Growth. Global Impact. Feed the Roots

June 25, 2022 Toronto

In extraordinary times, extraordinary people do extraordinary things.

In this Society Year, you have been extraordinary.

Today we conclude this year’s journey and we’ve grown personally, had tremendous global impact, and continue to “Feed the Roots.” Following ASHRAE’s heritage – that is our personal roots, grassroots and technical roots – we weathered the storm of the past two years, delivered amazing successes this year, and set the groundwork for moving forward into 2022-23.

A year ago, we met remotely – and watching the virtual presidential address with Jen was different. It’s a lot better to be with you in person.

While we began with virtual meetings, many of our grassroots chapters and regions began to meet again in person and we realized that it’s those personal touches, side conversations and relationships that allow us to build our personal and global networks…our Member-to-Member Connections.

Throughout the year your fellow ASHRAE members shared their insights on our Member-to-Member Connections videos. Through interviews we covered topics such as how to get involved, lessons learned, and a woman’s perspective on ASHRAE and the industry. I was touched by the many people who reached out to me after the “solo” Member to Member connection addressing mental health and the pandemic.

And in 2022 we discussed career advancement, and connected with members outside of North America, students, and our future leaders. And as we’ve learned, the in-person connections are so much more impactful. That’s why we’re here today.

Very importantly we were able to reconnect with our grassroots chapters and members. To accomplish this our regional and chapter leaders did an amazing job helping arrange in person visits to twelve of our regions each for about a week. We had plans to get to all 15 regions, but three went virtual due to COVID issues.

But you didn’t stop there.

In addition to chapter events, you fed the roots by organizing employer visits, factory tours, events to thank sponsors, and meetings with principles of local firms so we could learn how to better serve them, their companies, as well as their customers and clients.

But you didn’t stop there either.

You arranged meetings with student branches from Miami to South Carolina to El Paso Texas, Porto Portugal and Athens – where I was actually convinced to take a selfie! You continue to provide many scholarships for our next generation of professionals entering the industry. And our Minnesota chapter arranged indoor skydiving with the students from Mankato State University.

It was a blast…and I didn’t even hurt myself!

You continued to reach out and plan events with our Young Engineers and Women in ASHRAE, as well as other under-represented groups. And our Board Diversity, Equity and Inclusion subcommittee is using the lessons from our Chapters to help us expand our reach to the smart, hardworking and diverse professionals we need in our industry. You advocated with government officials, put on joint events with other organizations, and our officers collaborated with other associations.

We got back together, socializing and getting to know one another personally. For many of us, these result in life-long personal friendships.

And thank you for the opportunity to visit our West Texas Chapter in Lubbock –and be hosted by my best friend in the world – ASHRAE member Dave Branson. Due to all the hard work by our Chapter and Regional leaders we were able to have 94 Chapter events in person – including last night’s 100th anniversary of the Toronto Chapter.

In following the example of “eChuck” last year, we also connected with additional chapters - virtually. In South Carolina a “vintage” Member brought a briefcase full of drawing tools – including French curves – to share our heritage with the members including the chapter president – who is a YEA member. During the Baltimore Chapter’s tour of the Engineers Club, we finished in the library and in the upper left corner was Volume 1, the 1895 Handbook of the American Society of Heating & Ventilating Engineers  - as a Society we began feeding the roots one year after our founding.

The El Paso Chapter had the Paso Del Norte (passage to the north) star lit in ASHRAE’s honor. The night before our first Chapter-visit in New Jersey, the hotel fire alarm went off – at midnight. Zach from the Columbus chapter put out a fire when the heating fluid spilled during the lunch buffet. I’m happy to say I know of no other further thermal events. And during the Central Pennsylvania chapter’s social event in the catacomb’s of a brewery we found that Region III DRC Mark Tome may have missed his calling as a pirate.

Our extraordinary and thoughtful members honored the position of ASHRAE President by doing things like,

  • putting up an ASHRAE journal cover for a reserved parking spot,
  • Having cakes made,
  • Sending a watering can signed by Region X leaders as a reminder to feed the roots.
  • A 3D print of the ASHRAE President from the UK Midlands Chapter.

And I’m not sure if the world is ready for this, but the East Tennessee chapter in Knoxville presented a Mick bobblehead!

While our chapters and regions had events, we as a Society also got back together in person and in force. We had expositions and conferences in Mexico, Las Vegas, IAQ 2020 in Athens, as well as Ventilation 2022 and our annual conference here in Toronto. The events and locations highlight our global stature.

And we didn’t stop there.

Our deep technical roots continue to deliver the knowledge we all need to grow personally. Events have been in person, virtual and hybrid. Our DLs are available virtually and in person – and the chapters are very well-served. Our independently funded research continues due to your generosity. And there are many avenues here in Toronto to keep growing and increasing our networks.

We have the technical program as well as meeting of technical committees, Standards Project Committees, our standing committees. Educational and social events.

These all help us to deliver extraordinary value to our more than 51,000 global members who in turn use that knowledge to serve humanity.

In addition to our grassroots and technical roots, your Board of Directors has worked hard to think and act more strategically…and streamline our Society. They also made decisions to invest in our future.

The Task Force for Building decarbonization is providing us the resources to reduce environmental emissions, and the board allocated funds to expedite the work.

The global impact of our Epidemic Task Force continues to lead our world forward – and we’re keeping people safe and healthy in buildings.

Our global profile allowed us to participate in COP26 for the first time – directly addressing climate change. And our major initiative was embraced by so many of you throughout the world.

Beginning in June of 2021 you were asked who fed your roots and whose roots you will feed. Then you did it.

At Chapters Regional Conferences. The question asked was, “Whose roots will you feed?” Then you did it. During in-person and virtual meetings with our grassroots – our Chapters. You were asked, “Whose roots you will feed?” and you did it. Seeing the broad swath of experience, regions, cultures, backgrounds and generations is inspiring, and the commitment to feed the roots is evident.

Our Ireland chapter is collaborating with CIBSE to deliver a mentorship program…and in May I got to meet with both mentors and “mentees.” Two of those being mentored, Mike Ahern and Alex Frant, have been supported by the sponsor to be here today at the annual conference. When you see them please help “feed their roots.”

All this is done to fulfill our mission and vision, which are spot on. We get to serve humanity and strive for our Vision of a healthy and sustainable built environment for all.

And these aren’t simply words.

It’s you, the extraordinary volunteers in this room and watching virtually throughout the world, along with our talented ASHRAE staff, that deliver our global impacts.

We make the world more sustainable and resilient to future changes.

  • We reduce both energy utilization intensity and environmental emissions.
  • We helped mitigate a global pandemic by keeping vaccines cold – and their efficacy high.
  • 40% of the world’s food spoils between the field and your fork. We reduce that.
  • And most importantly we keep students and staff in schools, and occupants of the built environment safe and healthy.

Our industry has never been more relevant, we’ve never been more essential, and I have never been prouder to be part of our industry due what you do every day. Simply put, we have extraordinary global impact. We make a difference!

As we have that global impact, we need to remember, thank and treasure the those who help us serve. Including people like our late Presidential Member Lee Burgett who fed the roots of Shawn O’Brien and me, about a decade ago, as we served as La Crosse Area chapter leaders.

But none of what we do happens without the giving nature of our companions, spouses, families and friends, and the sacrifices they make for ASHRAE and the world. They are more precious than gold. I gratefully thank our Executive Committee for all the sacrifices you and your families have made for ASHRAE and humanity-- especially this year…and for your patience and how you fed my roots. And I thank a true ASHRAE Ambassador, Jen Schwedler, who feeds the roots of everyone she meets…and has supported, encouraged and guided me beyond my dreams for decades…and particularly this year as we served ASHRAE together.

And speaking of families serving together, let’s go back to last June, Heather and David Schopplein were introduced as I shared the story of how Heather chaired a great CRC in 2019 and I learned they were expecting their first child and how, during the 2020 Region X virtual CRC I met and was touched by 9-month old Cohen being with Heather.

And in December of 2021, I got to meet Ainsley.

Our next generations remind us of the reasons we advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration and their allied fields. Guided’ by our mission, we get – “To serve humanity” -- every day, and that is an honor and a privilege.

We volunteer and serve in different ways and for different reasons. We grow personally and professionally and help others do the same. Collectively, we have extraordinary global impact. And those global impacts serve the world’s, as well as our personal, future generations. And all this occurs because we are true to our deep, widespread and strong technical roots, grassroots and personal roots.

Let’s all continue…to Feed the Roots.