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State of the Society

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Mick Schwedler P.E., ASHRAE Fellow, LEED AP | 2021-22 ASHRAE President
State of Society Address | 2022 ASHRAE Winter Conference

Today we continue our journey.

We’ll recall our heritage of three sets of roots that result in personal growth and our global impact…and this reminds us of the importance for each of us to Feed the Roots, today and for future generations.

ASHRAE’s heritage – our roots -- begin in 1894 with the founding of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers. Charter Member Harrie Crane put into words the reasons for our society. Forming personal and professional friendships, exchanging technical knowledge, and consulting and networking with one another.

All of these led to our first root of personal growth and established our heritage of strong Member-to-Member connections.

On July 19, 1906 these personal roots were augmented when our Illinois members requested permission to form a Chapter. This was the beginning our grassroots and is an ASHRAE hallmark. These roots have spread globally, and we look forward to holding the chartering ceremony for Chapter 199 in Alexandria, Egypt.

Then our third set of roots, our deep technical roots, developed with the founding of our Research Bureau in 1917. Later led by F. Paul Anderson and one of our first female Members, Margaret Ingels. You and Members like you have donated to ASHRAE research for over a century. To the tune of more than 2.3 M during a global pandemic and 78M since 1959. That means the research remains objective and independent – and it’s trusted.

It’s inspiring to see how much we’ve changed…from 1906 where everyone kind of looked like me, but some had hair.

To our present, vintage and young, women and men, global cultures. We continue to support our traditional membership while reaching out to groups, areas and people who don’t know about our industry and are underserved. We need these smart, hard-working and diverse professionals – who will also contribute to our global impact.

Because it’s not group-one or the other, it’s all of us, together, that make ASHRAE extraordinary.

These personal roots, grassroots and technical roots led to our collective global impact, “…to serve humanity…” the first three words of our mission. Let’s briefly look at a few of these impacts:

Our technical, educational and training materials are well-known and respected worldwide, and available to everyone through our technology portal.

Young engineers in ASHRAE (YEA) are now about 20% of our membership, and most importantly, the young women and men who began in YEA are leading us into the future.

And our Epidemic Task Force has been a beacon to the world during a global pandemic. The knowledge and wisdom of more than 150 global experts provided resources that everyone could access, and that you used locally to help others.

Here are a few examples of how the ETF and you accomplished so much:

That knowledge has been featured in mainstream media like the Wall Street Journal, television, radio, the Boston Globe, and many others. This shows how essential our industry and volunteers have been.

More importantly, through our grassroots chapters and members, ASHRAE has become part of conversations among the general public.


The ETF developed technical information that as professionals we used to learn and educate ourselves and grow professionally. Then you, our Grassroots, took that information to the people who need it. Many of you worked with school boards and administrators, and owners and operators to help them reopen their buildings.

The Joint Michigan ASHRAE Chapters Covid-19 Task Force organized a campaign to educate local school districts, healthcare facilities and non-profit organizations. You may want to check out the videos on ASHRAE’s YouTube channel.

And now people not involved in our industry know of ASHRAE’s impact.

My wife’s college roommate who now works for the La Crosse County Health Department saw the ASHRAE magnet on Jen’s van and remarked, “ASHRAE – we use their information.” And proud Detroit Chapter members who are parents, shared that teachers in their children's schools tell other parents about ASHRAE. And here’s the example shared in June about why we volunteer and serve.

I’ve been inspired by Heather Schopplein who chaired the 2019 joint Chapters Regional Conference; what a dedicated, dynamic, and extraordinary volunteer. During the CRC, I learned that she and her husband David were expecting their first child, and I tear up each time I recall when we saw each other again – a year later during the 2020 Region X virtual CRC – and nine-month-old Cohen was with her. This reminds us of the reason we advance the arts and sciences of HVACR and their allied fields, and that you volunteer and give so much:

To serve humanity – for both the world’s and our personal future generations.

And while our “past normal” is wonderful, this year you have exhibited no desire for normal, and took it up a notch.

Moving on to Extraordinary:

Events have been virtual, hybrid, and in person Chapters Regional Conferences, Employer visits, Chapter meetings, social events, and student branches. These all remind us how much we crave our Member-to Member connections, and also use technology to expand who can be involved.

At that same time, technical committees continued to deliver their knowledge and research: our Distinguished Lecturers who gave countless presentations during last society year, continue to be available virtually…and as travel opened up, DLs are now back together with you in person.

Your Board Members have expanded ASHRAE’s global impact through collaboration with other societies such as CIBSE, IFMA, UNEP, and ASHE as well as others. We’ve met with some in person, and others through the use of technology. These partnerships raise our global profile and impact – and serve our membership in doing so.

For the first time in ASHRAE’s history, we were directly involved in the Conference of Parties, in Scotland. Your Treasurer Ginger Scoggins attended COP26– collaborating with other organizations and Ginger’s presentation on decarbonization was excellent.

In parallel, our grassroots keep feeding the roots locally.

In September 2021, our Members in Mexico helped lead AHR Mexico and sponsored technical workshops. With others they delivered ASHRAE’s first in-person exposition in almost two years.

Thank you to our amazing volunteers in Mexico.

And here we are together, in Las Vegas…and joined virtually by many others through our hybrid conference.

We are using the lessons of the past two years to move on to extraordinary and allow even more people to be involved and contribute.

Moving forward…

President Gulledge appointed a Task Force on Building decarbonization to provide us the resources to use with our clients to reduce environmental emissions. Also, the recommendations of our Vision 2030 ad hoc are being integrated into our Strategic Plan – to lead us into the future.

And how about this year’s Society initiatives?

First, thank you for dragging this dinosaur up here on stage to begin using social media to reach out to our next generations of professionals.

Our Learning Pathway of HVAC Design Basics allows those entering the industry to increase their technical knowledge using this mini curriculum.  This serves the members, their employers, AND their clients. And the second pathway, Pathogen mitigation, ensures we continue to respond to health issues – today and in the future.

And they’ve already been viewed by 10,000 visitors.

Our “Member-to-Member Connections” videos feature ASHRAE Members addressing subjects such as how employers benefit from your ASHRAE involvement, how you can get involved and make a difference, a woman’s perspective of our industry, and the newest, addressing mental health and the pandemic. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you’ll learn a lot when you do…and they’re directly from your fellow Members.

Will all DRCs, Regional Members Council Representatives, and Chapter Presidents in attendance please stand?

Through your leadership, our grassroots Chapters and Regions have used a combination of virtual, hybrid and face-to-face meetings to Feed the Roots of our Members.

These men and women arranged for your ASHRAE President to meet with our grassroots – virtually and in person. They have planned itineraries, getting us to Chapters who haven’t seen their President since at least 2015, chauffeured me thousands of miles within their Regions, and helped Feed the Roots in eight Regions so far – to the tune of 68 Chapter events, with almost 3000 Members and more than 500 “members to be.”

Please join me in thanking them for all the time and effort they’ve put into serving our grassroots…and double your applause for those stuck in their cars with me for hours!

But we’ve just started.

As travel remains open, Region-at-Large is the next stop… and there are plans in place to visit the other regions and their chapters.

As we met, something became apparent to me: our Mission – to serve humanity – and vision of healthy and sustainable built environment for all, are focused exactly where they should be.

Those entering the industry want to have an impact, to make a difference, to help the world be better.

Sometimes the words and language we use, concentrate more on how we do things. Say HVAC&R, air conditioning or Btu’s to a high schooler or college student and you see it in their eyes – No thanks, I want to make an impact.

When we instead concentrate on our Mission and Vision and talk about the 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 consumption. We reduce that.

And most importantly, we keep students and staff in schools, and occupants of the built environment safe and healthy.

When we use these words, their eyes light up – and they want to be part of our global impacts…to make a difference!

And the fact is, nothing happens without you – our volunteers. You are our lifeblood. You are extraordinary.

Which brings us to our most important initiative:

We began with our virtual conference in June and asked who fed your roots. And you were also asked whose roots you will feed in the next three months. Many of you took this to heart– here are a few examples:

Money Khanna is the technology transfer Chair in one of our newer chapters -- in Chandigarh, India. Following President Gulledge’s direction to embrace technology, Money and his team delivered 43 online programs last year – including having Chuck there for three separate events.

Through November of this society year the Chandigarh team fed the roots by delivering a 12-session HVAC series, plus webinars and finally their first face-to-face meeting – which they used to connect and network with one another.

Fittingly, our Cincinnati Chapter followed founding member Harrie Crane’s vision of Member-to-Member Connections. They are featuring a monthly “member spotlight” by interviewing past Chapter Presidents to help them connect with new Members…and feed the roots.

And our Ireland Chapter is collaborating with CIBSE to deliver a mentorship program…and each “mentee” involved will have a chance to win a trip to our annual conference in Toronto, in June. This is great collaboration and sounds like a “double-feeding” of the roots.

Since June “Whose roots will you feed?” was asked at a number of our Chapters Regional Conferences. You and volunteers like you committed to feeding the roots of specific people - and you’re helping them grow.

During in-person and virtual meetings with Chapters – this continues. Seeing the broad swath of experience, regions, cultures, backgrounds and generations, the commitment to feed the roots is evident.

So now it’s our turn.

Not many presenters will ask you to do this…

For our live audience, please take out your phone and visit the link on the screen. Our virtual audience can simply refer to the word cloud section on your screen to participate.

Now, please list the first names of 2-3 people whose roots you will feed in the next three months. It’s somebody you already know and admire, it could be at your workplace, Chapter, or in your community or family.

And as we commit, let’s watch the direct personal impacts you will have.

Now that you’ve made your list, reach out. Each time you do this, you take us back to Harrie Crane’s vision for ASHVE 127 years ago…and ASHRAE as we move on to extraordinary.

Tech folks, please take us back to the presentation.

Now, whether our roots have been fed, or we’ve fed someone’s roots, let’s share those successes on social media to let others know – and create an avalanche as we “Feed the Roots.”

Coming full circle, we’re reminded of the reasons we serve by:

Heather and David in 2019, with the addition of Cohen in 2020…And now in 2021, Ainsley.

Guided’ by our mission, we get to serve humanity every day, and that is an honor and a privilege.

We volunteer in different ways and serve in our chosen manner.

We do it because we grow personally and professionally and help others do the same.

We do it because collectively we have tremendous global impact.

And we do it because that global impact serves the world’s, as well as our personal, future generations.

As all this occurs because we are true to our deep, widespread, and strong technical roots, grassroots and personal roots.

Ladies. Gentlemen. Feed the Roots.