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State of the Society

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Farooq Mehboob, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE | 2022-23 ASHRAE President
State of Society Address | 2023 ASHRAE Winter Conference

As Salam Alaikum,

Shalom alai khem,

Paz sea contigo,

May peace be upon you.

When I started my term as ASHRAE President in June, we were convening in Toronto and you may recall that I addressed you by video. I shared my story of being a twenty-five-year-old chief engineer of the InterContinental Hotel in East Pakistan during a time of great political, racial and social unrest, in what led to the breakup of Pakistan into two countries, East Pakistan became Bangladesh and West Pakistan being modern day Pakistan.

In my inaugural presidential address, I spoke about the era of unpredictability that we are facing. I reminded you that the future does not belong to those who sit and watch, but instead we must SEEK IT, CREATE IT and SECURE IT. And that’s what we’ll continue to do because that who we are. It’s in our ASHRAE DNA.

For the past half year, we have been working on doing exactly that. I’m here today to report to you on the state of our society, our progress on the initiatives we undertook, and the actions that we have taken in the last six months towards securing our future.

Our board of directors is hard at work on securing our future. Key areas we needed to work on were identified and board sub committees set up to address these.

Three key areas for the boards work are:

  • Bring a fiscal focus to ASHRAE
  • Streamlining ASHRAE processes
  • Developing new products and services

A fiscal focus is required to evaluate that the work we do has a business case and we have key indicators of performance. The fiscal focus subcommittee is led by our Treasurer Dennis Knight and is developing and implementing policies and rules. The performance of ASHRAE is incorporated into graphic “dashboards” highlighting trends and key data. These are issued every month so that we have our finger on the pulse.

Together with fiscal focus it is important to streamline the processes of ASHRAE, we need to work at the speed of business, break down silos and move decision making lower down the organization. This effort is led by Vice President Sara Maston and the committee is expected to produce streamlining recommendations for the board’s consideration in the coming months.

Vice President Dunstan McCauley is leading the subcommittee working on identifying new products and services which our members and the market needs. This work is urgent given the changing needs of the market in the digital age.

Diversity is critical to securing the future of ASHRAE. The two key prerequisites for ASHRAE’s diversity are transparency and participation.

ASHRAE is improving our transparency by livestreaming the board of directors’ meetings and council meetings. Hundreds have now tuned in to witness the actions of our Society firsthand. Our members can now view upcoming meeting information, find agendas and links to virtually watch board meetings at ashrae.org/bod. You can also signup for our Board Activities email.

A quarterly board newsletter to Chapter Presidents has been started.

We are empowering our global force of volunteers with knowledge and collaboration tools, which in turn leads to greater participation and true diversity.

  • The Finance Committee is developing financial training for regions and chapters. At the society level we have developed dashboards encompassing all relevant financial and other data in graphic format these are issued every month.
  • The Publication and Education Council is hard at work developing and offering even more products and services that are tailored to the challenges encountered in various parts of the world and translated in numerous languages. To date, we offer 57 publications in languages other than English.
  • Additionally, the Publication and Education Council and the Technology Council are working together to provide a path for collaboration between the Chapters and Technology Committees to create locally focused guides and tools.
  • To lower the financial barriers to participation for our volunteers we will provide opportunities for members to serve as instructors for ALI courses, write content provide and provide other services. These opportunities will be widely advertised and easy to avail.

What determines how quickly we can react and adapt depends in great part on how well attuned we are to developments and how willing we are to embrace change. Building a stronger culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in ASHRAE will help the Society be more creative, innovative, and resilient. This requires us to grow beyond our comfort zone of where we act and think similarly. True diversity, equity and inclusion comes from bringing different talents, strengths, understandings and skills together to help us and our Society grow.

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board subcommittee led by Director Adrienne Thomle continues to work hard, creating materials for ASHRAE Chapters and establishing workshops of pertinent topics at our Annual and Winter Conferences.

The subcommittee is working on a DEI strategic plan for Ashrae with prioritised training needs and tools for training, developing DEI policies relating to appointments, honours awards, technical group membership, volunteer engagement and chapter programs.

In addition to being highlighted in an informative episode of the ASHRAE Journal Podcast, DEI training videos have been made available to all ASHRAE members. These DEI initiatives help make ASHRAE a welcoming home for all.

The work of the subcommittee will be truly transformative.

I am privileged to have witnessed the power of diversity and engagement through my travels as president and met with members from around the world.

  • Region 13 CRC (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Region 1 CRC (New Hampshire)
  • Region 14 CRC (Madrid, Spain)
  • BOD & RAL CRC/Global HVAC&R Summit (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • COP27 (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt)
  • ASHRAE Pakistan Chapter/2nd HVACR Trends Conference and Expo (Karachi, Pakistan)
  • ASHRAE Northern Pakistan Chapter Event (Islamabad, Pakistan)
  • ASHRAE Central Pakistan Chapter Presidential Dinner (Lahore, Pakistan)
  • ASHRAE Falcon Chapter Event (Dubai)
  • 53rd International HVAC&R Congress/ASHRAE Danube Chapter (Belgrade, Serbia)
  • ASHRAE Southern California, Orange Empire and Tri-County Chapters Event (Los Angeles, CA) and visits to Fresno, Reno and Golden Gate Chapters I Region X
  • ASHRAE Region XII Florida Chapters and Industry roundtable in Orlando

Our society is rich in culture and experience. Thank you for your commitment to securing our future.

We are harnessing the power of relationships and fostering greater participation by creating virtual joint chapter meetings between North American and International chapters focusing on critical issues to our world that our industry will be on the forefront of providing solutions to.

We continue to create and nurture relationships through our participation in leading industry events around the world, such as the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, AHR Mexico and Greenbuild.

We’re raising ASHRAE’s profile by contributing our technical expertise in media features, both within the industry and mainstream outlets such as the CNN, ABC News, NPR, Newsweek, Bloomberg News, The New York Times and The Washington Post to name a few.

Just this morning, I had an opportunity to speak with a room full of industry and mainstream media journalists, over coffee, about how we are Securing Our Future.

Tomorrow, at 10AM, at the AHR Expo, I look forward to joining top industry leaders and experts to participate in leadership panel discussion on challenges and opportunities in our industry.

To harness the enormous power of our global partners and industry we brought together the ASHRAE Board of Directors, global HVAC&R associations, the architect and consulting engineering community, manufacturers, research development scientists and policy makers to address the critical issues facing our industry. Our goal was to define the causes and identify ways we can work together to solve the issues. I’m proud to report that the summit was a huge success, with more than 200 global leaders in attendance to discuss such topics as building decarbonization, climate crisis mitigation, workforce development, IEQ and wellness, food security and the cold chain and energy security. The result was the HVAC&R Global Summit final report, which was released in January and is available for download on ashrae.org. We are excited about this global plan of action for the HVAC&R industry.

In November, ASHRAE was invited to attend the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP 27, where countries came together to take action towards achieving the world’s collective climate goals as agreed under the Paris Agreement.

ASHRAE Treasurer Dennis Knight and I had the honor of participating at a side event coordinated with Architecture 2030 and the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists on Planning, Design and Development in the Global South. Leading up to this important event, ASHRAE, along with 24 of the world’s top industry organizations, issued a statement pledging to assume a leadership role in decarbonization efforts in the built environment.

This demonstrates how ASHRAE continues to raise its profile around the world and be part of the conversation on critical issues of the day.

Maintaining and creating strategic alliances is an important element of harnessing the power of relationships. I am happy to report that ASHRAE has created newly formed or renewed partnership agreements with the following organizations:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Association (REHVA) and
  • Indian Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE)

Harvesting information includes the active pursuit of accurate and relevant data about the global conditions of our industry and the needs of the market and our members. This requires us not only to build a global coalition in the common cause of our industry but to have structured conversations with industry and stakeholders on trends and industry needs. This will permit ASHRAE to respond in real time and craft new products and services for industry and our members.

To this end we have held industry roundtables with industry leaders in manufacturing, distribution and contracting as well as consultants and academics to harvest information and deliberate on trends. Roundtable sessions have taken place in Toyo Japan, Madrid Spain, Istanbul Turkey and in Orlando. Additional Roundtables sessions are scheduled for here in Atlanta during the Winter Conference and during the Spring CRCs in Monterrey, Mexico. What we have learnt from these roundtables will be collated and acted upon appropriately. Reports from the roundtables will be made available on ashrae.org.

We encourage all our members to participate in a location near you.

In a podcast interview that I recorded for HPAC Engineering, I spoke about the urgent necessity of global cooperation and collaboration among engineers that can help solve our planet’s most pressing problems. We have over 51,000 members, 199 chapters, in 132 countries.

80 of these chapters are outside of the US. We all have the ability to take action and embrace the culture of change in our society.  

As an industry and as individuals, we have experienced the profound and lasting impacts of a global pandemic. It is an honor to be a part of a Society that proactively faced the challenges precipitated by the pandemic, becoming a solid resource for the public, policymakers and the media in providing answers, posing solutions and preventing the spread of misinformation as it relates to HVACR.

I want to share with you an important way that ASHRAE is not only “taking action,” while raising our profile, but we are also extending our culture of change to address the world’s most challenging issues directly.

ASHRAE Board’s announced its commitment to develop an expedited, non-ANSI pathogen mitigation standard to address the public demand for IAQ systems that reduce the risk of airborne infections.

Standard 241P will be a consensus-based, code enforceable standard. Unlike traditional ASHRAE standards that may take two or more years to finalize and publish, Standard 241P is targeted to publish in fall of 2023, further reenforcing the demand for such guidance now, with ASHRAE experts at the helm.

You’ve taken the charge of Securing Our Future to heart and our message is spreading.

The ASHRAE President Facebook page grew by 31.5% in followers and 15,000 users see posts on this page. Thank you for your engagement.

The ASHRAE President’s web page contains a wealth of information for you to “take action.” These resources are available at ashrae.org/president. The Society theme speech video and PowerPoint deck can be found here, along with a printed manuscript. In the spirit of diversity, translations of the “Securing Our Future” manuscript can be found on this page in French, German Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. You will also find a links to the ASHRAE Board Activities newsletter, Board of Directors meeting minutes and motions and links to access upcoming board meetings virtually.

The challenge doesn’t stop here. It is the obligation of our industry to provide practical information and keep building readiness top of mind as the current pandemic continues and as we prepare to face the next. The nature of the challenge may change, actual conditions at any specific building will vary, and the adjustments that should be made will depend on many factors such as local climate, complexity of systems involved and the use, occupancy and activities that occur in and around a building. As an industry, we must remain focused and maintain our position of leadership and preparedness.

Our success continues to be based on problem solving, creativity, innovation, flexibility, and a willingness to adapt. Our success stems from seeing an opportunity for improvement based on new knowledge and technology. This has made ASHRAE what it is today, the world’s leading global HVACR Society and it is what will propel us to greater heights in the years ahead.

Thank you!