Fall 2020 Newsletter Print

President's Report

It goes without saying that this fall has started off differently than any year before –no tailgates (so far), plenty of political drama, everyone preparing for “hibernation”, etc.  Many of us are working from home and it can certainly be challenging to separate work from your personal lives.  With all of the challenges around us, I encourage everyone to take time to enjoy the fall colors, a trip to the cider mill or enjoy a hoodie and bonfire night.  Keep things balanced and in perspective, we will get through this!

Thank you to everyone that made our rescheduled golf outing a success!  We were still able to safely fill the course and raise quite a bit of money for ASHRAE Research.  We couldn’t have done it without the help of our golf outing committee, our sponsors and participants!

Although life has thrown us quite the challenge this past year, I couldn’t be more proud of our membership’s commitment to helping across the State of Michigan.  Our local COVID task force has been hard at work setting up series’ of presentations to school districts, building owners and our fellow Michiganders.  This Chapter has continued to volunteer their time to help provide guidance for reopening or how to make buildings safer for occupants.  Seeing the sheer number of attendees at these presentations, the level of engagement and appreciation from participants is fantastic.  I couldn’t be more excited and proud of what this group has done, clearly above and beyond what we have traditionally done as a Chapter. 

The programs committee has been hard at work getting our meetings lined up for the year and we have published those dates on our website and can also be found below.  Thank you to SMACNA for sponsoring our September meeting.  Although we missed being together for the event, it was still very well attended.  The board will continue to evaluate the situation at hand and reconsider in person events when it makes sense and is safe for our members!

In addition to our monthly meetings, your Chairs have been looking to find creative new ways to engage with membership.  The YEA committee, led by Aaron Frantz, set up a Detroit ASHRAE Journal club to discuss articles that caught their eyes.  The first meeting held on October 7th was a success and we will be looking to get another one on the calendar in the near future. 

I look forward to seeing everyone again soon and wish everyone good health!  Thank you for your continued dedication and creativity!


Brad Herbeck
[email protected]


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Next Meeting Update

Summer Sessions (COVID-19 Related Topics):

  • July 14 – 12-1pm: Flushing, Disinfection, Testing of Building Water Systems by Ron George
  • July 28 – 12-1pm: Relative Humidity by Ron Will
  • August 11 – 12-1pm: IAQ & COVID-19by Jim Newman
  • August 25 – 12-1pm: Advanced Room Air Distribution Strategiesby Chandra Sekhar

Thank you to all that presented and participated in the sessions this summer--we are fortunate to have such engaged membership!  All presentation slide decks, recordings and Q&A have been posted.

Please keep an eye out for future meeting invites!

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Chapter Technology Transfer

It’s time to start thinking about a project to submit for the ASHRAE Technology Awards this upcoming spring!  For the past several years the Detroit Chapter has received multiple Regional and Society level awards for entries in the Technology Award competition.  This year we hope the legacy will continue.  You can be a part of this legacy by submitting a project.  All you have to do is be an ASHRAE member, have an innovative or energy efficient design, and fill out the application. 

The purpose of the ASHRAE Technology Awards is threefold:

  1. To recognize ASHRAE members who design and/or conceive innovative technological concepts that are proven through actual operating data.
  2. To communicate innovative systems design to other ASHRAE members.
  3. To highlight technological achievements of ASHRAE to others, including associated professionals and societies worldwide, as well as building and facility owners.

ASHRAE Technology Award applications are accepted in each of the following categories:

  1. Commercial Buildings (New and Existing)
  2. Institutional Buildings (New and Existing)
    • Educational Facilities
    • Other Institutional
  3. Health Care Facilities (New and Existing)
  4. Industrial Facilities or Processes (New and Existing)
  5. Public Assembly Facilities (New and Existing)
  6. Residential (New and Existing)

This year we want the Detroit Chapter in the winner’s circle again. Of course this competition also serves as a means for passing on of new technology to future engineers.  If you have a design that you think is worth sharing…go ahead and submit it! 

If you want more information, the “Technology Award Program Overview, Requirements, Judging Criteria and Helpful Hints” are available on ASHRAE’s website at the following link: https://www.ashrae.org/membership/honors-and-awards/technology-awards-program-overview

or you can email Aru Sau at [email protected] with any questions you may have.

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Honors and Awards


ASHRAE Detroit Chapter 2020 Distinguished Service Award

The Detroit Chapter of ASHRAE has, with high regard, awarded the Detroit Chapter Distinguished Service Award for 2020 to Oscar Cobb.

Oscar Cobb graduated from Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Since graduating from LTU, Oscar has created an impressive portfolio of work in mechanical systems design, including retrofit and new construction designs for commercial, healthcare, institutional, and industrial buildings, as well as hazardous storage applications, alternative energy laboratories, and data centers. Oscar’s experience in HVAC design and engineering includes high energy efficiency design and energy recovery systems, and ASHRAE standard compliance for ventilation, occupant thermal comfort, and energy efficiency in building designs.

Oscar has been involved with ASHRAE for over 18 years. During that time he served on Student Activities and Chapter Technology Transfer Committees; he then served several years in different board positions before becoming Detroit chapter President in 2017-2018.

Oscar has also been an advocate for growing the mechanical engineering profession throughout his career. He has worked with the Young Engineers in ASHRAE committee (YEA) as well as a multitude of other organizations and events that support young exposure to mechanical engineering. His advocacy includes presentations at various Metro-Detroit High School Career Days, most recently at Chruchill High School in Livonia, and Dearborn Fordson. Oscar was also featured in ClickonDetroit article, named “Detroit King’s STEM Club takes the Spotlight for Fall Fan Choice Awards Nominations” in October 2019.

Throughout Oscar’s career he has held a dedication for high quality projects, as well as being an advocate for the profession and is honored to receive the award for Detroit ASHRAE Chapter Distinguished Service Award.

Congratulations Oscar!



Elevated to ASHRAE Fellow Grade

It gives us pleasure to inform you that the ASHRAE Board of Directors, upon recommendation of the Honors and Awards Committee, has voted to elevate Jim Newman to the grade of Fellow.

Jim has been a very important part of the Detroit Chapter for more than 50 years. I have known Jim since early in my membership which started in 1986. It is so gratifying to see members like Jim in Detroit that have embraced all that ASHRAE means to its members and the built environment. He has championed the value of ASHRAE membership as well as the importance of following ASHRAE design standards as long as I have known him.

One of the most impactful areas where Jim has contributed to the Detroit Chapter, as well as ASHRAE Society, is in enlightening both ASHRAE members as well as outside professionals. Jim has spent many hours every year teaching and lecturing on the details and importance of ASHRAE Standards, most importantly on energy recovery, sustainability and indoor air quality. Jim has made presentations to AIA (architects), BOMA (building officials), USGBC, AEE (energy engineers) and other groups to promote the importance of these standards and guidelines. These presentations help the whole design community converge on the same page when considering important fundamentals for new and existing building design strategies. I believe Jim’s efforts to bring outside organizations into a unified design focus has been a huge help in furthering ASHRAE’s principles.

As far as design impacts, Mr. Newman was a part of a design team on the Soaring Eagle Casino that improved indoor air quality and reduced cooling loads by using a filtration enhancement system to remove cigarette smoke and odor. His design maintained good indoor air quality while using less outside air than typical for a casino. It reduced the cooling load from 4000 to 3000 tons, saving the casino money in both first cost and operating cost. The building won an IAQ award 2 years after being in operation. This design is a model for other casinos with the same goals.

Congratulations Jim!


Janice K. Means, PE, LEED AP, FESD, Professor Emeritus-LTU-

ASHRAE E.K. Campbell Award

The Detroit Chapter ASHRAE Honors and Awards Committee is pleased and proud to inform you that Janice K. Means, PE has been awarded the ASHRAE E.K. Campbell Award. Janice was awarded the E.K. Campbell Award at the February ASHRAE Winter Meeting but we have not had a chance to recognize her yet as a chapter due to the Covid19 Pandemic. Hopefully soon!

This award honors an individual for outstanding service and achievement in teaching. The award, funded by contributions from individual members of the Life Members Club (LMC), consists of a plaque and a $10,000 honorarium as approved by the LMC Executive Board.

Janice joined ASHRAE in 1985. Her commitment to ASHRAE Society, high school and college students and our Detroit ASHRAE Chapter has been consistent and reliable for all these years. Many of us know Janice as a key contributor to the Chapter but were not aware of all the involvement that Janice has had until reading her biography for this award submittal. Janice does not boast of her accomplishments, she just does it! We rarely see devotion like Janice’s to this society by any other member, including society presidents. And, after 35 years as a member, she is still going strong in her volunteerism.

Even before becoming an ASHRAE member, Janice Means was involved in the Michigan Solar Education Association when solar energy was not widely promoted. Energy efficiency has always been a hot topic for Janice and her involvement as an author or co-author or presenter has helped keep the Detroit Chapter keenly involved in designing new construction projects with energy efficiency in mind. The chapter meetings are often beneficiaries of Janice’s thoughts and ideas on efficient designs. The students she has worked with in our area, and particularly at Lawrence Technological University, are now contributing to the designs at several area and national consulting firms.

Congratulations Janice!

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Joseph B. Olivieri Scholarship

  • Scholarship information and application can be found on website today

Shashikant F. Dani Scholarship (NEW!)

  • More information and application will be posted on our website shortly


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Government Affairs Committee

Understanding that this is an “all hands on deck” moment, the Joint MI Chapters’ COVID-19 Task Force is still moving strong and helping out in the state where we can.

We’ve recently partnered with two state departments—Education and Energy Great Lakes & the Environment (EGLE) to offer assistance to school facility management teams looking to tweak their HVAC systems help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions in their buildings. Many of you have probably read through the guidance on Society’s EFT webpage and know that it can be a bit daunting for someone not well-versed in HVAC-ese. So, volunteers from the MI chapters are offering one (1) hour of free consultation time to chat with school facility management teams about what changes they may want to consider for their HVAC systems.

Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes and recognizing that we all have the proverbial “skin-in-the-game” since we make our livings in this field, all volunteers have committed to sticking to the unbiased expert information freely available from Society’s ETF. Instead of “consultants”, in this regard, we’re really more like “translators”. Our time is volunteered in the spirit of helping our communities. This service is rooted in ASHRAE’s code of ethics and, even though our non-commercialism policy was developed for conferences and presentations, we use its principles to guide this volunteer effort.

We’re talking with schools about three things in particular—ventilation, filtration, and relative humidity. And, of course, their entire facilities management team is welcome to participate, including any contractor, consulting engineer, or other specialists they’ve hired. We fully respect those relationship and will not infringe upon them in any way.

If you’re interested in volunteering your time to help out a school in need, feel free to send an email to [email protected].

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From the Experts

Portable Air Purifiers

By Simon Ren, P.E., CEM and Jim Newman, CEM, LEED AP BD+C, OPMP, BEAP, FASHRAE, FESD


In some horror movies, the climax involves a scene where, after taking refuge in their house, the main characters realize that the monster was already in the house.  Viruses are like the subset of these movies where one of the characters actually brings the monster into the house!

No amount of filtration will eliminate viruses, bacteria or most other pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).   SARS-CoV-2 aerosols have a half-life of more than an hour and can stay infectious for up to 16 hours (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-scientists-know-about-airborne-transmission-new-coronavirus-180975547/ )

Improving central filtration can help marginally, but basic filters cannot capture pollutants as they are being emitted within the space.  Also, most commercial air distribution systems use diffusers to increase air circulation within spaces.  Typically for each unit of air delivered by a central heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, five additional units of air are induced to recirculate within the space.  This keeps moving air at a reasonable temperature throughout the space (55 °F air delivered to the space mixes with 75 °F air at the top of the ceiling, thereby maintaining approximately 72 °F air at occupant level.) 

Residential HVAC systems seldom run during mild weather.  Therefore, central air purification systems are or little value in spring and fall.  Opening windows can be an effective way to control indoor pollutants if outside air is clean.  However, concerns with outside air include pollen, industrial pollutants, high humidity.  And, ambient noise can also limit the suitability of open windows.

We cannot totally eliminate risk, but we can significantly reduce it.  Our bodies have defenses which will ward off small amounts of pathogens, but the microbial load within the space also needs to be reduced.  Fortunately, several technologies are available to do just that.

For viruses, the best purification system is appropriate individual face coverings that also are worn properly.  Please note the use of the word “appropriate” here. Next is good hygienic practices by occupants, in other words, social distancing, proper cleaning, avoiding the touching objects such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, and other people, that can harbor germs. 

Local air purifiers can further minimize occupant exposure to pollutants.  A chart of options is shown below. These technologies include:

  • Media filters
    • Although great for many allergens, even HEPA filters do not necessarily effectively remove particles as small as viruses.
  • Dehumidifiers
    • A common application is basements which are cooler than main floors. Relative humidity above 60%, often found in basements and crawl spaces in warm weather is conducive to the growth of mold and other pathogens, as shown in the chart at the end of this article.
  • Humidifiers
    • Especially in well-insulated residences, central humidifiers might not be able to raise indoor humidity in cold weather to the 40% recommended to reduce infections, as shown in the chart at the end of this article.
  • Ultraviolet radiation
    • UV-C is, also known as Germicidal Ultraviolet, is a passive way to attack viruses and bacteria. Other UV spectrum radiation is not as effective.
  • Bi-polar ionization
    • Releasing positive and negative ions into a space actively attacks viruses and bacteria, and neutralizes other pollutants within the space. Because some of these units can generate a small amount of ozone, they should be properly sized for the space in which they are to be deployed. It is important to analyze manufacturers’ literature to ascertain what testing has been done and verified to back up claims.
  • Electronic cleaners
    • Static electricity can be used to reduce pollutants such as tobacco smoke and particulates.
  • Adsorbent media filters
    • Activated carbon, potassium permanganate, etc. can neutralize odors and specific pollutants
  • Catalysts
    • Specialized catalysts are used for “industrial” applications. Photocatalytic oxidizers are used in some bi-polar ionization devices
  • Scent generators?
    • Not really. These claim to eliminate odors but merely mask them, adding to pollutant loads.

We whole-heartedly believe in these technologies and have put our money where our mouths are. At the Ren home, Simon and his wife, who is a medical doctor, recently added a portable unit which combines UV-C and bi-polar ionization.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were already HEPA filters in the HVAC units, a dehumidifier in the basement, a portable adiabatic humidifier and a plate-style ionizer in the carpeted area of the basement.

We encourage you to do some research of your own before selecting the device(s) for your application.   Marketing teams can be very creative in promoting their equipment and technologies; but you want to be sure to select the most appropriate equipment. Good places to start your research include:

We wish you success in selecting filters and purifiers for your home or commercial applications and, we hope you check back with us later in the year for a follow-up article on the impact of our new equipment on our homes’ IAQ, respectively.


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Society News


ASHRAE Announces 2021 AHR Expo Has Been Cancelled

ASHRAE Winter Virtual Conference to be held February 9-11 

ASHRAE has announced that the 2021 AHR Expo originally scheduled to be held January 25-27, 2021 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL has been cancelled. ASHRAE worked alongside AHRI and Show Management to explore every possibility that could lead to hosting an in-person event, but unfortunately, the pandemic continues to present challenges and unpredictable variables. The 2021 ASHRAE Winter Virtual Conference, which will include a mixture of live, pre-recorded and on-demand sessions, will take place February 9-11, 2021. ASHRAE committee, council and board meetings will take place virtually in January. More information and details will be available in the coming weeks. Check ashrae.org/Chicago to stay updated.


ASHRAE’s Global Headquarters Has Moved! 

Your ASHRAE headquarters has moved to 180 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092. The newly renovated 66,700 square-foot facility will be a showcase for the latest HVAC&R equipment, providing a venue for visitors to experience state-of-the-art technology installed and "in action" in a built environment.

For more information on our new net-zero-energy building visit ashrae.org/newhq


Funding for HVAC System. Upgrade Recommendations

By Sonya M. Pouncy


Does your company specialize in schools? Do you offer HVAC system assessments? 

As schools grapple with re-opening safely, they’re looking for ways to improve the operation of their HVAC systems. Many of them are in need of more than the basic air and water side flushes or simple tweaks to their operating protocols. Some schools need major changes to the ways they purify air, the addition of humidity controls, or upgrades of their building management systems.

If the upgrade also improves energy efficiency performance, utility rebate programs may offer some funding assistance for the upgrade. But, what about the initial investigation to determine what upgrades are needed?

As part of their effort to reduce risks of COVID-19 transmissions, MI’s Department of Energy, Great Lakes and the Environment (EGLE) is offering financial assistance to help MI schools identify the appropriate upgrades for their HVAC system. Complete details on the Michigan K-12 Public School HVAC Assistance Program, including program dates and eligibility criteria for schools and service providers are available on the web.  The limited funding is available on a first-come-first-served basis, so check it out today.



By Sonya M. Pouncy


There isn’t a member of ASHRAE who is not familiar with the concept of standards.  ASHRAE has over 80 standards of care and guidelines for best practices. Most of us are intimately familiar with at least two or three of them.

We understand the vital role that these guiding documents play in our industry. We know that standards:

  • safeguard end-users by ensuring that products and services conform to minimum standards of quality and care;
  • help businesses increase productivity while minimizing errors and waste;
  • enhance interoperability and compatibility
  • improve maintainability and ease of maintenance;
  • enable products from different providers to be readily compared; and
  • reduce overall project delivery costs.

In ASHRAE, as in many organizations, technical standards and guidelines are developed by committees comprised solely of volunteers! These volunteers represent all segments of the industry—manufacturing, sales, construction, labor, consumer groups, and others. They all contribute their knowledge and expertise, their time and their efforts to the development of industry benchmarks like ASHRAE Standard 90.1, 62.1 and 180. Standards that make our industry strong and that often form the foundation of municipal building codes.

This year, we want these volunteers to know we appreciate and acknowledge all the work they do. Especially those volunteering on standards under the rigorous schedules of continuous maintenance—those that have to be updated every three years.

October 14th is World Standards Day—a day for us to pause and take a moment to commemorate the thousands of individuals around the world and in our own chapter that work toward the development of standards that make our world better, safer, more energy efficient and reliable.

We salute each volunteer on a standards committee. We thank you for your selfless contributions, for working cooperatively—sometimes with competitors—to bring forth documents that direct, guide, and safeguard industry practitioners and our clients; and that continually advance the science and art of heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigerating.



Did you know?   

As a Detroit ASHRAE member,


Janice K. Means, PE, LEED AP, FESD

Detroit ASHRAE Liaison to ESD

The ASHRAE Detroit Chapter is a member of the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) Affiliate Council which means that all Detroit ASHRAE members have ESD benefits.

Following is a listing of benefits for which YOU, as a Detroit ASHRAE member, are eligible:

Additionally, take advantage of the ESD job fairs, the annual DTE/ESD Michigan Energy Efficiency Conference & Exhibition, continuing education courses, and offer your support to promote our profession through volunteering for numerous programs promoting STEM to students (e.g., Girls in Engineering Academy, Future City, SciEngiMathePloration children’s science TV show).

About ESD:  ESD represents over 3,000 companies and 95 affiliated technical societies who have representation in ESD's Affiliate Council which convenes monthly. The reach of ESD extends to over 60,000 professionals including 52 unions and 1,600 building owners and over 4,000 individual professional and student members. Established in 1895…the society focuses on bringing talented individuals together to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration.

For more information, go to:  www.esd.org or contact Heather Lilley at 248-353-0735, ext. 120.

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