WESTPORT, Conn. – The AHR Expo (International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition) returned to Chicago for a lively week of learning, reconnecting, perusing and demoing everything new coming to market in HVACR. Notable topics included all things decarbonization—from equipment on the floor to discussions in education programming, refrigerant regulation updates, the heat pump resurgence and the unveiling of many new products that are shaping the path forward for HVACR.

“The industry showed up for business in Chicago,” said Show Manager Mark Stevens. “Throughout the year we’ve followed discussions regarding regulation rollouts, decarbonization trends and various other tracks about the way we conduct business as an industry. It was evident in the halls that the professionals in attendance are primed to create solutions and drive business forward.”

It was clear to anyone filling the halls on Monday morning of the show that attendance was strong, welcoming 48,034 attendees there to interact with the 1,875 exhibitors spread across North and South Halls. Maximizing 527,520 square footage of space for booth displays, attendees gained access to all the latest the industry has to offer, including new products, technology, skill learning and demonstration.

Additionally, Podcast Pavilion hosted 20 podcasters covering the latest topics happening across the industry. Podcasts were recorded and will be released by each respective podcaster in the coming weeks.

Inside exhibitor booths, industry professionals and influencers hosted events, competitions and meet-ups, opening exciting channels of content creation and networking opportunities.

“The network transformation is resulting in incredible visibility and partnership for professionals,” said Nicole Bush, Director of Marketing. “There is a true line of two-way communication between the professionals in the field and the manufacturers creating products and technology. Having an in-person forum like AHR Expo to strengthen the social relationships formed online is proving to be immensely beneficial to our industry.”

The 2024 Education Program highlighted topics within the industry with the goal of addressing pain points, opportunities and applications to increase efficiencies, business and relationships.

“It’s encouraging to see the growth in our education programming, not only with topic variety but also with the expertise signing on to provide insight,” said Special Projects Manager Kimberly Pires. “There is a deepened connection between what’s being discussed in sessions and what’s being applied on the show floor and this continues to benefit attendees with a true understanding of current information in the industry.”

In 2024, the education program featured 120 free sessions, 153 new product presentations in New Product Theaters located in South Hall and seven panels in the AHR Panel Series.

In the 2024 State of the Industry Panel, topics included decarbonization including gas bans, grid capacity, heat pumps, and dual-fuel options; building automation and AI as it relates to energy conservation and future planning; refrigerant updates, including sell-through periods, EPA regulation, recovery and reclamation, etc.; workforce development, virtual training, bridge programs and more.

In the panel titled, "How Do We Address the Workforce Development, Recruitment and Retention Gap?", representatives from Lincoln Tech, a postsecondary vocational institute with locations across the US, joined a discussion featuring Jose De La Portilla of Rheem Manufacturing, Alison Neuman of Johnson Controls, Bryan Orr of HVAC School & Kalos Services and Dominick Guarino of National Comfort Institute, Inc. to delve into creating programming and bridge opportunities to attract professionals to the skilled trades and prepare them for a lifelong career in HVACR. The group discussed how to promote the industry and build a successful culture to retain, train and onboard to better prepare for fieldwork, supportive technology, as well as identifying weaknesses, gaps and opportunities.

Other popular sessions included topics featuring heat pumps, business strategy and growth, emotional intelligence adeptness, building automation, controls and AI, social media and industry growth, smart solutions, A2Ls, compliance, codes and standards, as well as various other niche topics, providing something for every job role represented in the industry.

In 2025 AHR will head south to Orlando. Save the date for February 10-12, 2025 at the Orange County Convention Center. Hotel blocks are expected to open for attendees late-Spring and registration will go live early Summer. Sign up for alerts and updates on ahrexpo.com.

“Each year we come away from the show with vigor for what the industry has in store,” continued Stevens. “We are honored to continue to provide the best all-industry meeting place and forum to learn, discuss, prepare and calibrate goals for the future of HVACR. We hope to see everyone in Orlando.”