ASHRAE Ireland Conference offers fresh perspective on future of Building Services in Ireland

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The inaugural ASHRAE Ireland Conference took place in Dublin Castle on 9th February 2016, attracting a great degree of interest with over 80 representatives from a diverse group across the building services sector – from both industry and academia. In addition, 10 sponsoring organisations were also present on the day, representing building design, HVAC equipment, refrigeration and controls. We would like to thank each of our sponsors for their generous support, without which this event would not have been possible: Cylon, Hitachi, Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), Irish Ventilation & Filtration, Johnson Controls,Mitsubishi, Refrigeration Distributors Ltd (RDL), RPS, Sirus and Trane. We would also like to extend our special thanks to Engineers Ireland who provided CPD accreditation for the event proceedings.

A varied agenda included talks from across the industry:

  • ASHRAE Organisation and the Ireland Section: Mr. Frank Caul (Sirus), Mr. Ken Goodman (ASHRAE Sub-Region B Chair) & Dr. Bruce D. Hunn (ASHRAE)
  • Commercial Building Performance: Dr. Bruce D. Hunn (ASHRAE)
  • Building energy policy and research: Mr. Kevin O’Rourke (Marchena Management Services Ltd) and Dr. Daniel Coakley (IES Ltd.)
  • Industrial Refrigerants: Seamus Kerr (RSL Ireland)

The event was opened by ASHRAE Ireland President, Mr. Frank Caul (Sirus) who commented on the current state of the building services industry, in terms of the challenges posed by public misperceptions and a general lack of experienced graduates coming through with the required skills to serve in the industry. This is reflected in a recent Hays industry survey which suggested building services engineers are currently the most sought-after professionals in the construction industry, with up to 20 jobs per candidate on average. Mr. Caul also commented on the need for collaboration within the industry, particularly given the interplay between architecture, engineering and software solutions in modern developments.

Mr. Ken Goodman, ASHRAE Sub-Region B Chair, introduced ASHRAE and its core values of excellence, commitment, integrity, collaboration and volunteerism. He talked about the role of the ASHRAE Ireland section, the latest in a network of 178 Chapters/Sections covering 35 countries across 4 continents, with a current global membership standing at over 53,000. There are also a host of technical and research committees, as well as wide ranging certification and training programs. The main message to everyone in attendance was to get involved as there are opportunities at all levels, from local organisation, section participation or even involvement in the technical / research committees. [Presentation Slides]

Dr. Bruce Hunn spoke about ‘Performance Measurement protocols for Commercial buildings’, giving an in-depth discussion on characteristic measures for energy, water and indoor environmental quality (IEQ), as well as best practice guidelines for the application of each. This talk covered many important aspects of performance measurement, including setting the objective (why is it measured?), the metric (what to measure and how?), and finally the outputs in terms of appropriate benchmarks or performance indicators. The talk covered the three levels of performance objectives – basic, intermediate and advanced, giving detailed examples for each case, utilising the ASHRAE HQ building in Atlanta as a case study. [Presentation Slides]

In the afternoon session, Mr. Kevin O’Rourke from Marchena management Services Ltd. opened with a discussion on building energy policy and standards, and in particular the policies guiding us towards near-zero energy buildings (NZEB). These policies are translated from EU Directives (EPBD and EED) into national building regulations in the form of Part L guidance documents, and new building control regulations (2014). [Presentation Slides]

From policy to research and practice, Dr. Daniel Coakley, ASHRAE Ireland Secretary and Research Fellow at Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd. (IES), introduced the concept of smart cities and smart buildings, and spoke about how research in this space is driving improved integration between systems, buildings, communities and cities. The solutions being developed through collaborative research projects and training networks, such as Horizon 2020 and Marie Curie, are helping to create the next generation of urban energy planners and engineering solutions which are capable of leveraging novel ICT technologies to improve design and operational efficiency. In particular, Dr. Coakley highlighted the EINSTEIN Project, a Marie Curie IAPP project in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, which aims to develop the next generation of optimised building controllers, through a combination of data-driven fault detection and prediction-based control optimisation. [Presentation Slides]

Ken Goodman introduced the final session of the day, which focussed on one of the core elements of ASHRAE, technical standards, guidelines and regulation. Seamus Kerr, RSL Ireland, gave us an update on new Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and F-Gas Regulations, and the implications for industry, as well as some of the long-term alternatives for refrigeration. Finally, he discussed the challenges these regulations place on the industry, in terms of phase-out time, safety, training and upskilling, as well as the need for investment and change. [Presentation Slides]

Dr. Bruce D. Hunn gave the final talk of the day, on the topic of ASHRAE technical committees, task groups and research committees, as well as giving guidance on how individuals and organisations can participate. These standards and research committees play an important role in driving industry standards, regulations and best-practice guidelines. In fact, the most widely recognised ASHRAE publications, the four-part Handbook series, is compiled and updated almost entirely by voluntary members of technical standing committees who write, review and vote on updates to these guidebooks. In addition, ASHRAE conducts a wide range of research projects across all interest areas, from building and HVAC design, to equipment, refrigeration and materials. ASHRAE independently invests approx. $3million per annum in over 70-80 ongoing research projects conducted by research institutes and organisations both within the US and overseas. [Presentation Slides]

Overall, the event was a tremendous success for the launch of ASHRAE in Ireland. There was a fantastic turnout and very positive feedback from attendees, sponsors, invited speakers and guests. It was great to see such a high level of interest and commitment from people from across the building services spectrum. We hope that this will lead to the growth of the organisation in Ireland, with further events already in planning and a growing interest in the formation of technical sub-committees from interested individuals and organisations.

Useful Links

We look forward to welcoming you to our next ASHRAE Ireland event in the near future. If you have any further feedback, or wish to contact the ASHRAE Ireland board, our contact details can be found here: http://ashrae-ireland.eventbrite.com/. Alternatively, please send an e-mail tosecretary@ashrae-ireland.org for further information on getting involved, or if you are interested in becoming an affiliate or corporate sponsor.

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