USA: ASHRAE has announced that the 2021 AHR Expo, originally scheduled to be held January 25-27, 2021, in Chicago, has been cancelled.

ASHRAE says that the decision was taken despite exploring every alternative possibility with AHRI and the AHR Expo show management.

With the exhibition cancelled, the 2021 ASHRAE Winter Meeting will now become a virtual conference, taking place from February 9-11, 2021. This  will include a mixture of live, pre-recorded and on-demand sessions.

“The board of directors has carefully considered what course of action would be best for ASHRAE members, the committees that conduct the society’s business, the industry we serve and the AHR Expo,” said 2020-21 ASHRAE president Charles E Gulledge III. “The pandemic has affected everyone, requiring that we adapt to existing conditions in our personal and professional endeavours and our decision to cancel the 2021 AHR Expo is a reflection of necessary adjustments.”

ASHRAE committee, council and board meetings will now take place virtually in January.

“Current health rules regarding social distancing and large gatherings makes it impossible for us to provide the experience that our attendees expect at the AHR Expo,” said ASHRAE executive vice president Jeff Littleton. “As leaders in the built environment, we have a responsibility to protect health and wellbeing of attendees, exhibitors and staff. While we could not find a path forward to host the expo in 2021, we anticipate an even greater show in 2022 in Las Vegas.”

Postponement not possible

Last month, the AHR Expo show organisers said it would postpone the show until at least March due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus. This followed consultations with exhibitors and attendees who were overwhelmingly in favour of moving the event. At that time show manager Mark Stevens said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the show would go ahead. However, with current Illinois state and local restrictions prohibiting mass gatherings over 50 people, that became impossible.

“We were hopeful that March would be a feasible solution, but there are too many obstacles that are beyond our control,” said Stevens. “We know how disappointing this news is for the HVACR industry and we are disappointed too.

“We’ve examined every scenario and questioned every roadblock to see how we might hold an in-person event in 2021,” said Mark Stevens. “Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to present unpredictable challenges and other variables that are beyond our control. The safety of all our participants —​ attendees, exhibitors, speakers, employees, venue staff and everyone involved at every level —​ continues to be our top priority. With these barriers, along with state and local restrictions due to COVID-19, we have unfortunately exhausted all efforts to bring the Show to Chicago in 2021.”

Additional information about the 2021 ASHRAE Winter Virtual Conference and committee meetings, including registration details will be made available soon on the ASHRAE website.