Welcome to Society Year 2020-21!
It is a tremendous honor to serve the members of Region X as Director and Regional Chair (DRC). Over the years, I have had the great privilege to work with so many inspiring volunteer members across our fourteen chapters and the fifteen regions of our international society. I owe so much to my predecessor, my mentor and dear friend Marites Calad, who did a phenomenal job leading our region through some very challenging times. Thank you Marites!!! The good news is that while her term as DRC has come to an end, she remains committed to our region and has agreed to serve as our Nominating Committee Alternate and Regional Representative. With Marites, former Region X DRCs Karine Leblanc and Dean Borges on the regional leadership team (along with former DRC and current society Vice President Don Brandt), we have an exceptional group of experienced leaders who will make sure to keep me in check if and when I make a mistake! I would like to welcome our newest Regional Vice Chairs, Elise Kiland (YEA RVC) and Kellie Huff (Student Activities RVC), welcome back Cindy Moreno (Nominating Committee Alternate Reserve) and thank the entire regional leadership team for their dedication and time. As a team we are committed to the theme “To equip, inspire and empower our chapter leaders to excel in all facets of chapter operations.”
We begin the society year much in the same way that we ended last year, in the midst of a crippling global pandemic that has redefined how we work as an industry and how we interact as a society. ASHRAE was very quick to respond by forming an Epidemic Task Force, comprised of industry experts on a number of teams, who have provided a wealth of technical resources to address the challenge of COVID-19 and future epidemics as they relate to the built environment. In the face of uncertainty and adversity, ASHRAE has further established itself as a global authority on building health and safety. These resources are available on ASHRAE’s website at www.ashrae.org/covid19.
Because of the pandemic, our 2020 Annual Conference, originally scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas at the end of June was converted to a virtual conference. For only $99, attendees participated in four days of meetings, live technical seminars, and virtual interactive happy hours, and have access to 80 pre-recorded technical presentations for the next 18 months. What a tremendous value! If you missed out, it’s not too late! You can still register to get access to this incredible content. Just go to: https://www.ashrae.org/conferences/2020-virtual-annual-conference.
During the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference, our new society President, Chuck Gulledge III presented his inspiring theme "The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0.” He emphasized the importance of a digital transformation to streamline our design and construction processes and to empower all stakeholders with the right data to make the right building and operation decisions. This holds true, not only in the design and construction world, but in how we can streamline how our organizations functions to be more efficient, profitable, and healthy.
This message comes at a time when we are all relying heavily on digital platforms and assets to get our day-to-day work done. Though social distancing and personal interaction restrictions can certainly put a strain on our physical and emotional well-being, many would agree that working in an entirely digital environment can be significantly more efficient. So where do we go from here? What’s next?
We start the 2020-21 society year facing the reality that chapter meetings will likely continue in a virtual setting. Chapter events, such as golf tournaments and holiday parties will be put on hold. Some might conclude that because of this, the value of ASHRAE membership is diminished.
But they would be wrong.
Now more than ever, as ASHRAE emerges as the technical authority in COVID-19 response resources, we need to be equipped with these resources so that we can provide our clients with the right answers and designs to help them protect the health and safety of their occupants. We have seen virtual chapter meeting attendance soar in various chapters. This can be a great opportunity to provide members with relevant and timely technical guidance, without having to fight downtown traffic in the afternoon. And we have seen chapters come up with fun and innovative ways to engage with participants online through trivia nights, cocktail recipes and happy hours! No, these will never replace the face-to-face connections that we all long for, but until we are able to return to physical meetings, these virtual engagements continue to reinforce the continued value of ASHRAE membership.
To align with President Gulledge’s theme of a digital transformation, the regional leadership team and I are committed to streamlining our processes to help our chapters run more efficiently and effectively by leveraging our digital assets. We have created a regional collaboration Basecamp site, where chapter leaders across the region can have discussions with each other, ask questions, share best practices, and important documents. We continue to evolve our website (www.regionx.org) where regional officers now have the opportunity to create their own blog posts. And we are very excited to announce the launch of Region X Facebook Fridays, a live video stream on the Region X Facebook page that will highlight the activities within the region and society. Subscribe now and stay tuned! (https://www.facebook.com/ashraeregionx)
The regional leadership team stands together, albeit virtually, to support the members of the Region X chapters. We are here to serve you. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions. We would love to hear from you!!
Devin A. Abellon, PE
ASHRAE Region X Director and Regional Chair