By Simeon Oxizidis
It all began with an email from Ken Goodman arriving in the inboxes of all the ASHRAE members in Ireland in March 16th 2015. In the email, Ken – a veteran of setting up ASHRAE sections and chapters – was probing our interest to establish an ASHRAE Ireland section. More emails have been exchanged, phone calls were made, face to face meetings took place and eventually a dozen of us met on October 22nd in Portlaoise where the first board of ASHRAE Ireland was elected and inaugurated.
In the first weeks , still wet behind the years, we were just trying to find our footing and address the ideas and resources that Ken kept firing at us. However,
more out of our enthusiasm rather than anything else we stormed into 2016 with an event that became a bold statement from our side: ASHRAE Ireland is here. On February 9th 2016 the inaugural ASHRAE Ireland Conference took place. That day the Bedford suite of the Dublin castle was full as more than 80 people attended the talks of our main speaker ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Dr Bruce D. Hunn and the local experts Mr Kevin O’Rourke, Dr Daniel Coakley and Mr Seamus Kerr. It was a huge success with great reviews and feedback which it wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from our sponsors (IES, SIRUS, Hitachi, TRANE, Johnson Controls, RPS, Mitsubishi Electric, Cylon, Irish Ventilation & Filtration, Refrigeration Distributors Limited). We will never get tired of thanking them for their contribution.
The uptake of that 1st ASHRAE Ireland Conference cemented our confidence and belief that we can have an impact on the Irish building and HVAC industry and professionals. In the following months we were present in the 2016 SEAI Energy Show and the 5th IERC Conference, both held in Dublin, interacting with colleagues and spreading the word that ASHRAE Ireland is here and we want to support and represent building system design and industrial processes professionals in Ireland and to collaborate with all the local pertinent associations and institutions to promote our profession towards a more sustainable Ireland.
Then on October 10th we were privileged and honoured to welcome in Ireland ASHRAE President Timothy Wentz. His huge interest and focus during his presidency on education and learning offered us the opportunity to organise a round table discussion with Irish Institutes of Technologies along with representatives from Engineers Ireland and CIBSE Ireland on the challenges our profession is facing today in the Irish context. His talk later that day in the Engineers Ireland HQ on “Adapting today to shape tomorrow” it was a real sensation heartily attended by more than 70 people.
For us, the main outcome of ASHRAE President’s visit and especially of the round table discussion under his auspices with academics and professionals of the Irish built environment sector was to enforce our commitment in supporting the Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology in the delivery and development of courses and programmes in the building sector. We are dedicated to carry on the legacy of that first meeting further and use all the available ASHRAE resources to support the academic community in developing and delivering educational programmes in this area.
Soon after that on October 20th the first of our regional technical seminars took place in Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). The seminar, which was hosted by the Messo Research Group at CIT attracted a great degree of interest from both industry and academia with over 40 attendees, focused on improving operational energy efficiency with facilities management (FM), ice storage techniques, as well as conveying how Building Information Modelling (BIM) could contribute to FM. The agenda included talks from, Pieter Vereycken (Baltimore Aircoil), Michal Otreba (BIM Coordinator RPS) and Pat Mehigan (UCC).
In hindsight, it does feel that we have punched above our weight. The dozens of late long meetings in the board room of SIRUS in Cork and our personal time and effort bore fruit. But we want to do more.
Our plans for 2017 are grander and ambitious. We have already several events scheduled for the first six months. The CIBSE ASHRAE group is meeting in Tyndall National Institute in Cork for a half day workshop on data centres on March 8th. During the SEAI Energy Show on April 4th, the ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Dr Tom Lawrence will give an hour talk on High Performance Buildings. On May 18th our flagship event – the 2nd ASHRAE Ireland Conference – is going to take place in Dublin spearheaded by the ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Mr M. Dennis Knight.
A plethora of other events are in the planning phase including student competitions, training courses and evening technical workshops. However, for all of our ambitious plans to materialise and expand we will need more foot soldiers. So far all our activities are being designed and implement by no more than a dozen people namely Frank Caul, Michael Dawkins, Daniel Coakley, Simeon Oxizidis, Hugh O’Gorman, Michelle Cerretani, Donal Finn, Tom Morgan, Adam O’Donavan, Paul O’Sullivan and Ken Goodman. We will like to invite more people to join us in this trip. Especially, people from places outside of Dublin or Cork since we do believe that building and HVAC professionals all over Ireland deserve the opportunity to delve on what ASHRAE and its Irish Section has to offer.
We will also like to invite industries to support us. ASHRAE is a voluntary organisation and we are more than happy to dedicate our time and effort but to organise and hold all those events that benefit the local building and HVAC industry and professionals we need resources that extend beyond our labour.
In any case stay tuned.