April 03, 2014: Vol. 13, No. 14 Advancing HVAC&R to Serve Humanity
And Promote a Sustainable World  
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Industry News

Flex Time, Telecommuting Becoming Common Benefits in Buildings Industry
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—Recent changes in workplace policies at architecture, engineering and planning (A/E/P) and environmental consulting firms have made "flex time" a common benefit, according to a new survey. Consulting firm ZweigWhite’s recently released "2014 Policies, Procedures and Benefits" survey found that of the "unusual" benefits available to employees at A/E/P firms, flex time/working hours topped the list as the most common. Tied in closely with the availability of flex time is the acceptability of telecommuting. The survey found that 58% of firms allow firm members to regularly work out of their homes. After flex time, lunches/free food was the second most common "unusual" benefit.

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Demand for Air Conditioning to Increase 30-Fold This Century, Says UN Panel
GENEVA—Warming climates and especially the rise of a global middle class are going to send new populations in search of artificial cooling. That is one conclusion of a new report issued this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations scientific panel that periodically reviews the scientific bases for climate change. Throughout the developing world, rising incomes and warming temperatures will boost energy demand for residential air conditioning from nearly 300 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2000 to about 4,000 TWh in 2050 to more than 10,000 TWh in 2100, according to the report.

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'Black Death' Spread Through Air, New Research Finds
LONDON—New evidence suggests that the "Black Death" was probably airborne and, thus, spread by coughs and sneezes instead of disease-harboring rats. The Black Death was a medieval pandemic that swept through Asia and Europe. It reached Europe in the late 1340s, killing an estimated 25 million people. It lingered on for centuries, particularly in cities. According to scientists working at Public Health England in Porton Down, for any plague to spread at such a pace it must have gotten into the lungs of victims and then been spread by coughs and sneezes of people in close proximity. It was therefore a pneumonic plague rather than a bubonic plague. The scientists confirmed this by extracting the DNA of the disease bacterium, Yersinia pestis, from teeth in some of the skulls retrieved from a construction site for a new railway in East London. While antibiotics and public health in general is much better now, the indoor air component of the spread of the disease remains an important factor to consider.

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One Engineer's Story Shows Plight of Female Professionals in Arab World
AMMAN, Jordan—When Jordanian entrepreneur and mechanical engineer Nermin Fawzi Saad was looking for a handful of female engineers to join her new company, she put an ad in the newspaper, hoping to find a few interested candidates. She received more than 700 resumes. The seven word ad, “Female engineers required to work from home,” was a wake-up call for Saad, who realized there exists a pool of talent that lacks opportunities. After women graduate from university in Jordan, they often soon marry and start having children. After that, women are expected to stay home, care for their families and give up their careers. Saad says child-care services are not available in Jordan. After Saad finished her engineering degree, she got married and moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband, who was offered a job there. She was unable to work in her field because mixing between males and females is not allowed in Saudi Arabia, which has resulted in an engineering sector that is all male. She helped her engineer husband by doing some of his projects at home and developed a respected reputation in Saudi Arabia's booming construction sector. After starting her own company and returning to Jordan, Saad now employs 10 women who work on projects for Saudi Arabian clients remotely. When an engineer is required on site in Saudi Arabia, she sends her husband to the client. Saad’s goal is to have at least 100 female engineers working for her, and to be an inspiration for women in other sectors of the economy.

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Comcast Adds 'Smart' Thermostat Feature to Home Automation Service
SALT LAKE CITY—Comcast, the country’s largest cable television company, has expanded its home automation and security product by adding a new feature that uses a "smart" thermostat to control home temperature. Typical features of Comcast's Xfinity Home service include motion sensors for doors and windows that if breached can alert the homeowner or call police. Comcast will add a smart thermostat to the package called "Eco Saver," which can be controlled remotely through a mobile app. The thermostat is designed to automatically calculate how long it takes to warm up or cool down the home and manipulate the temperature the most efficient way. "It can learn your heating and cooling preferences. It’s also going to understand the footprint of your home and how long it will cool and heat the home," said Dennis Mathew, vice president of Xfinity Home.

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Dallas Put the 'Cool' in Cars
DALLAS—When Detroit balked at installing air conditioning on mainstream sedans in the early 1950s, several North Texas AC manufacturers and car dealers developed and sold units on their own to demonstrate the demand for them. "People take it for granted today, but in the early ‘50s, Detroit didn’t think many buyers even wanted air conditioning," said author Rod Barclay, who has written a book on the subject. "Detroit would not have responded as quickly as they finally did if we hadn’t had these companies in Dallas pushing and creating the market," Barclay told the Dallas Morning News. This, he says, was because the center of the U.S. auto industry simply had no clue what a hot Dallas summer felt like. Also, although manufacturers competed hard for sales, they also cooperated for the common good of the fledgling automotive air-conditioning industry and often shared technical information. "The Dallas AC guys would gather around a new car in September and build a prototype air-conditioning unit and then document it for all the companies to use," he said. As a result, Dallas had a burgeoning air-conditioning base in the early 1950s that got more competent each year.

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In other news...

Huge Biannual Fog Phenomenon Turns Dubai Into a 'Cloud City'
District of Columbia Adopts New Construction Codes That Promote Sustainable Building
Japanese Groups Launch New HFO-Based Air-Conditioning Refrigerant
Entrepreneur, Sandia National Lab Partner on Solar Thermal Ice Maker for Vaccine Transport
Louisville Leads List of Worst U.S. Cities for Spring Allergies
Indiana Governor Lets Energy Program Expire Without Signing Bill


ASHRAE Joins in Development of National Residential Green Building Standard
ASHRAE, the National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council (ICC) have agreed to jointly develop the 2015 edition of the National Green Building Standard. ICC/ASHRAE Standard 700 is the third edition of the standard and the first time that ASHRAE has partnered on its development. The standard originally was approved in 2009 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as the first green standard for residential construction, development and remodeling. Now known as the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS), it has been used to certify more than 32,000 single- and multiple-family homes and residential developments for reaching its established benchmarks for energy, water and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, homeowner education and site development.

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Chicago Approves ASHRAE Certification As Data Verifier
The City of Chicago now recognizes the ASHRAE-Certified Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP) as a data verifier credential under the city’s new Energy Benchmarking Ordinance. As a result, BEAP credential holders are eligible to provide professional verification of data for Chicago's new benchmarking and transparency ordinance. Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for Chicago, said, "The Energy Benchmarking Ordinance is focused on the importance of information to unlock energy efficiency opportunities that will bring down costs for buildings, increase competitiveness and reduce environmental impact."

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Feature of the Week

Technical vs. Process Commissioning
By Dave McFarlane, Member ASHRAE
This article discusses effective commissioning processes, as opposed to the all-too-common method of "commissioning by complaints." The author distinguishes between process commissioning, which manages project quality by observing and reviewing the inspection and testing processes, and technical commissioning, which is based primarily on hands-on inspections and functional testing and verification of building systems performance. He makes a case for technical commissioning being more robust and apt to lead to buildings that perform well.

This article originally was published in June 2013. Click here to download the article. It will be available here through April 17.

After April 17, access to the article from this eNewsletter will no longer be available. It will remain available for free download by members here and for purchase by nonmembers in the ashrae.org online store.

Product News

Spiral Duct Liner From Armacell
MEBANE, N.C.—Armacell introduces AP Spiralflex, 100% fiber-free, elastomeric duct liner made specifically for spiral ducts. The liner eliminates the need for encapsulating films or heavy dual-wall systems. This results in a more uniform, consistently performing insulation system that weighs dramatically less than conventional spiral duct insulation methods. It features Microban antimicrobial technology to protect indoor air quality.

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Energy Management Software From ICONICS
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—ICONICS has launched Energy AnalytiX, an off-the-shelf Energy Management Solution designed to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. The software delivers rich platform and browser-independent real-time visualization for application from a single building to an entire campus or multiple-site enterprise. Users can create firewall-friendly, secure custom energy dashboards and kiosks to view energy reports analyzing energy consumption patterns, resource use and progress on sustainability initiatives.

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Ventilation Fan From Panasonic
SECAUCUS, N.J.—Panasonic Eco Solutions North America offers the EcoVent ventilation fan. The fan features the company's Veri-Boost technology, which increases the cfm output if necessary to ensure that designed airflow is achieved. The fan is designed for quiet operation.

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