The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0 – April 2021


The National Chapter of ASHRAE

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The ASHRAE Digital

Lighthouse and Industry 4.0

April 2021

President’s Corner

To the National Capital Chapter of ASHRAE,

April marks the final Monthly Meeting of the NCC ASHRAE 2020-2021 Year. There appear to be many things coming to an end, which I am very excited about for our Chapter, Families, and Community. I hope everyone had a nice Easter and enjoyed the perfect weather. Now, for a little preview of what the NCC has lined up for April.

Please join us from 12pm – 2pm on April 14th for a presentation on Energy and Infrastructure. We all witnessed the level of vulnerability and exposure of power grids to drastic weather events as well as the effects on other critical infrastructure such as water filtration and wastewater treatment plants. This roundtable discussion will focus on grid and building systems reliability, building electrification, and higher-ed systems management. The three panelists will be:

  • Dr. Payman Dehghanian – Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Washing University
  • Smita Chandra Thomas, LEED AP, CPHC – Found and Principal at Energy Shrink
  • Andy Ludwig, PMP, CEM, LEED AP O+M – Manager of “Better Building Solutions” at ThinkBox Group, LLC

Thank you to our March 17th webinar presenters on Approaching Net Zero: Energy, Water and Waste. Neal, Steve, and Brice from CMTA along with Patrick from Vanderweil and our very own Patti from Home Innovation Research Labs, gave a well-attended presentation with continuity from start to finish. We appreciate all the attendees’ questions during the meeting as well as the follow-up afterwards. Your Board and Committee Chairs always strive to enhance your experience and direct feedback is a vital part of the process.

Although this is the last official meeting of the year, please stay tuned for a May Newsletter highlighting upcoming events, announcements and some exciting changes coming to the NCC (spoiler alert – pertains to Website and Directory). In closing, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any suggestions you would like to see implemented next year and as always, thank you to our sponsors, members, and volunteers!

Best Regards,

Stephen Niez

President, National Capital Chapter, 2020-2021

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020-2021 Board of Governors


Stephen Niez


Ryan Westlund

Vice President

Nick Barrett


Mike Morder


Jonathan Rumbaugh

Sr. Governor

Alec Petrillo-Groh


Michael Spencer


Drew McPheeters


Lauren MacGowens

2020-2021 Committee Chairs

Annual Social



Laura Morder
Stephanie Mages


Morgan Stevens

Facility Tour

Catherine Jones


Nick Barrett
Ryan Westlund
Stephen Niez
Mike Morder

Golf Outing

Domenic Catalfomo
Morgan Stevens

Gov’t Affairs

Roger Chang


Gary McKee

Honors/ Awards

Alec Petrillo-Groh


Drew McPheeters


Rachel Coyle


Chris Able
Bailey Estes


Catherine Jones

Research Promotion

Kirsten Burk

Student Activities

Dante Freeland
Catherine Jones


Ryan Westlund

Tech Awards

Ryan Westlund

Website/ Electronic

Michael Spencer
Lauren MacGowens

Women in ASHRAE

Bailey Estes

Young Engineers in ASHRAE

Stephanie Gonzalez


Patti Gunderson

Corporate Sponsors

Gold - H+B Engineered Products
Gold - Boland
Gold - AECOM
Gold - ATS
Platinum - Chesapeake Systems
Gold - Vertiv
Gold - Southland

Programs Committe

Please join us for the final webinar of
National Capital Chapter ASHRAE’s 2020/2021 season:


April 14, 2021 – Wednesday Noon to 2 p.m.

The recent crisis in Texas and neighboring states revealed the vulnerability of power grids to extreme temperatures and weather events which will be more and more likely as climate change deepens. When the electricity grid went down it brought with it other systems, including water treatment plants and residential plumbing distribution systems – interrupting industry, putting lives at risk and costing millions of dollars in damage. What can be done to prepare power grids and other systems against such failures in the future? What can communities and building owners and operators do to be more energy resilient and survive these events while minimizing long-term damage? Join Dr. Payman Dehghanian, Smita Chandra Thomas, and Andy Ludwig in a roundtable to discuss grid & buildings systems reliability, building electrification, and higher-ed systems management. Learn from both current research and tried-and-true examples about opportunities to stabilize and protect your building’s future, both with new design strategies and retrofit approaches.


Dr. Payman Dehghanian is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Washington University, Washington DC, USA. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University in 2017. Prior to that, he received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees both in Electrical Engineering respectively from the University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran in 2009 and the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, in 2011. His research interests include power system resilience and reliability assessments, renewable energy integration in power grids, and smart electricity grid applications. Dr. Dehghanian is the recipient of the 2016 Best Engineering Graduate Student in the State of Texas, the 2015 IEEE-HKN Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer Award, the 2014 and 2015 IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Professional Achievement Awards, and the 2015 Best Ph.D. student award in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University. In 2015 and 2016, he was also selected among the World's Top 20 Young Scholars for Next Generation of Research in Electric Power Systems.


Smita Chandra Thomas is the founder and principal at Energy Shrink, a consulting practice focused on decarbonization in the buildings sector. Dedicated to enabling energy efficiency in buildings through building science, Smita is a subject matter expert in energy efficiency in buildings at the cutting-edge of green technology and energy management strategy. Smita has more than two decades of experience performing and managing techno-economic analysis for individual buildings, programs and policy. Smita has a master’s degree in building science and is a LEED AP and a CPHC. Smita is a published author, blogger, and speaker on Integrated Design and Net Zero. Smita is also an active member of the community of DC energy professionals.


Andy Ludwig is a Manager of “Better Building Solutions” that improve building infrastructure while reducing operating costs, frequently for nothing out-of-pocket for the owner. He works with ThinkBox Group, LLC to upgrade affordable housing and the DC Housing Authority. He has over ten years of experience developing energy programs and managing energy efficiency projects. He holds a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University and Bachelor of Science in Economics from Duke University, as well as Certified Energy Manager (CEM), LEED AP O+M and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications.

If you have attended any of our previous virtual meetings and still need a certificate, please email and request a survey link. Your completed responses will qualify you to receive your certificate as a pdf via email.

Thanks to all who have presented, planned, and attended our series of webinars during this unprecedented year. Our hope is that by next fall we will be able to safely welcome you back to in-person gatherings. This has been a learning experience for us, and we hope we’ve been useful. Your comments after each presentation help us to improve educational offerings in the future.


Net Zero Energy Neal Taylor, Steve Torre, and Brice Watson, all of CMTA, Inc., made the case for a well-rounded
kit bag of strategies for successful design of Net-Zero public school buildings:

  • Early goal-setting and discipline coordination
  • Parametric modeling of
    • loads and energy end uses
    • shading and glazing
  • Studies of occupancy, daylighting, and the site’s seasonal solar resource
  • Robust commissioning – including both visual inspection and test procedures such as:
    • building infiltration
    • distribution system flows, temperatures and leakage
    • equipment performance optimization
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According to the New Buildings Institute, the last two decades have seen a seven-fold increase in ZeroEnergy projects, and schools lead all sectors.
(graphic courtesy New Buildings Institute)

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Good design takes into account the practical and procedural hurdles that can limit the number of successful Net-Zero Energy Projects
(graphic courtesy CMTA)

Learn more about one of CMTA’s case studies, Discovery Elementary School in Arlington VA:

Net Zero Water

Patrick Murphy, Director of Sustainable Design at R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, LLP. shared the sobering news that low-flow fixtures alone cannot get us to net zero water when other process water uses are so thirsty and ubiquitous.

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Flush and flow fixtures are often already optimized using standard product offerings; the real savings opportunities are related to irrigation and cooling tower make-up water.
(graphic courtesy Vanderweil)

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Net Zero Water

Patti Gunderson, Building Science Research Engineer at Home Innovation Research Labs, used the case study of Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center in Hampton Roads, Virginia (designed by SmithGroup) to show how a committed client can achieve true net-zero water and net-zero waste.

Collection for rainwater-to-drinking water system

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Collection for washdown & irrigation

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A ground source heat pump system avoided water use for evaporative heat exchange. An on-site waterworks uses energy, which must be accounted for to properly size renewable electricity production for net-zero energy performance.
Carefully sizing the water treatment system and diverting some roof collection to a simplified storage system for non-potable use is sensible and expedient.
(photos & graphics courtesy SmithGroup)

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Careful planning combined with understanding of local regulations and respect for users’ needs and expectations makes for a successful design. Every year brings clever new waterless toilet designs to the market; as more and more users have at least some familiarity with the concept, making the transition to composting devices and waterless approaches becomes easier and more reasonable. The technology genuinely eliminates odors and reduces a high-occupancy building’s water footprint.

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ASHRAE relies on YOU for support. If you are interested in donating, please visit

What would the world look like without ASHRAE Research? Since its beginnings in 1919, ASHRAE Research has grown and expanded to address the everchanging questions and topics facing both its members and the HVAC&R Industry and the world as a whole. The
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What would the ASHRAE Handbook look like without your support of ASHRAE Research? Take a look at just one chapter and imagine a world without this guidance from ASHRAE over the last 90 years.

Thank you for all your support!

Research Promotion Committee

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Exciting news – a new Tech Hour is now live!
The topic is Commissioning and it is posted to and the
ASHRAE 365 app. Viewers of this Tech Hour can earn PDHs through June 30.

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