Joint Societies Meeting

Is Residential Rooftop Photovoltaic Solar Power a Sustainable Solution?
Presenter: Stephen “Steve” Kujak

Solar power generation using photovoltaic (PV) panels continues to be one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources. In fact, many characterize capturing energy through PV panels as inexhaustible and sustainable energy source that is reliable for the long term, which is cost effective, efficient and is non-polluting. Unfortunately, sustainability means more than generating energy without the consequences of generating greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuel. The concept of sustainability is composed of environmental, economic and social impacts.

The presenter installed a 13 kilowatt fixed mounted residential rooftop PV system in June 2018. The system is comprised of 42 – 310 watt panels controlled by 21 micro-inverters. PV systems are marketed as a turn-key installations, easy to maintain and they have matured to the point of being just appliances without the need for monitoring. However, this is far from the case.

The presentation will cover the challenges and performance of this PV system for the past 18 months. It will cover challenges with system selection, installation and summarize both electrical generation and economic performance as well as the trials and tribulations. In the end, the audience will understand whether residential rooftop PV solar energy is sustainable. Many might be surprised by the answer.

About the Presenter

Steve has spent over 28 years being involved in numerous technology and product development projects involving development of new refrigerants, lubricants, compatibility of system materials and environmental sustainability initiatives. Steve holds Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s degree in analytical chemistry from the University of North Dakota.

Steve has been member of ASHRAE since 2005 and is a distinguish service member of ASHRAE. His ASHRAE and industry activities include contributing to refrigerant safety and use standards. Steve has been an author or co-author on greater than 50 publications related to refrigerants and has 17 patents related to HVAC products.

Steve has lived with his wife Annette on the Mississippi River for the past 10 years (Lake Onalaska and now the main channel in Brownsville, Minnesota) and both enjoy the beauty the drift-less region provides. Steve enjoys doing environmental or outdoor related activities. His activities include gardening, fishing, hunting and camping with his family. He is involved in local organizations working on environmental conservation minded projects, like the Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 (FOR78).

Register by Tuesday, February 11th on the Events Tab

5:00-6:00 PM – Social
6:00-6:45 PM – Dinner
6:45-7:00 PM – Announcements
7:00-8:00 PM – Presentation

Wednesday February 19th, 2020

WTC – Lunda Center
319 7th St N, La Crosse, WI 54601

$15 (includes dinner and one drink)

Required by Tuesday February 11th,                                              

January Program

History of Trane’s TRACE Software
Presenter: John Sustar

Join us this month for a history lesson from our chapter’s own historian.  John will be giving this presentation at the ASHRAE winter conference in Orlando, so please join us for a sneak peek without the hassle of traveling to Florida. 

 The HVAC design and analysis computer program, dubbed as Trane Air Conditioning Economics (TRACE™), revolutionized the way design engineers evaluated loads and energy consumption for various building types and systems. Conceived in 1971, the program offered combined analysis of energy consumption and life cycle costs with simple and easy to understand inputs. The first version of TRACE required paper manuals to be mailed to Trane headquarters in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where the mainframe computer ran the simulation using punched cards. The entire process of mailing in the inputs and waiting for the outputs could take a couple of weeks. As computer technology advanced in the 1970s, users could utilize their personal computers (PCs) instead of paper manuals to enter the program’s inputs and then electronically transfer the inputs to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Eventually, in the late 1980s, users were able run TRACE simulations on their own PCs. Today, TRACE is going through another major transformation by utilizing a 3D visual interface and the Department of Energy’s EnergyPlus calculation engine.

About the Presenter

John Sustar has been in the building sector industry since 2006. His areas of expertise include HVAC technologies and energy analysis software. He is active in the La Crosse Area ASHRAE Chapter- serving as the chapter historian since 2013.  During this time, he has received ASHRAE History Gold Ribbon awards for various topics—including the history of local engineering companies and HVAC technologies. He is currently a chiller product support engineer—providing presales support for large centrifugal chiller installations. Prior to his current role, he developed computer simulation models for energy efficiency studies and provided training in energy modeling software. He received his MS from the University of Colorado-Boulder Building Systems Program and BSEE from the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).

Register by Tuesday, January 14th on the Events Tab

Date:     Wednesday January 15th, 2020

Time:    12:00– 1:30 PM

Place: Trane Technology Center (Bldg. 12)

Room 1A/1B

2313 S. 20th Street

La Crosse, WI 54601

Lunch: Bring you lunch (optional)

Cost:   Free

4th Annual Golf Outing set for Wednesday June 12!

Registration is now closed for this event. If you have any questions, please contact Haley Goslinga at 563-568-7238.

It’s official, registration is open for our fourth annual golf outing benefitting the Lee Burgett Scholarship Fund.

This year we have partnered with Dixon Golf, manufacturers of the world’s only high-performance eco-friendly golf balls, to bring even more fun, games, and giveaways to the event. In addition to the traditional on-course contests, participants will have a chance to win a new driver, free golf balls, and earn a chance to win one million dollars!

The format will be a four-person scramble and teams with at least one past La Crosse Area Chapter ASHRAE President will receive a single stroke reduction on their final score.

Click here for more information on the new games, format, and rules.

We also have a number of new sponsorship opportunities available. Please visit our website to learn more.

Click here to register today!

ASHRAE Night at the Ballpark

The Young Engineers in ASHRAE (YEA) committee of the La Crosse Area Chapter is hosting its seventh annual ASHRAE Night at the Ballpark on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Join us to watch the La Crosse Loggers take on the Willmar Stingers.

This event is open to all members, non-members, and children of members.  The first pitch is at 6:05 P.M.

Join us at Howie’s Hometown Hangout in right field at Copeland Park in La Crosse for an evening of baseball and fun.  All you can eat food and soft drinks along with 3 drink tickets is included in the cost of admission.

The cost is $15.00/adult (up to two adults) and $5.00/child (up to two children).  Adult and children’s tickets beyond two will be charged a slightly reduced price ($25/$12 respectively).  Purchased tickets will be available at Will Call the night of the game.

For additional information or questions, contact Haley Goslinga at (563) 568-7238.

Please sign up by Thursday, May 30th, 2019


Date:Saturday, June 1, 2019
Time:First pitch at 6:05 P.M.
Location:Copeland Park
800 Copeland Park Dr.
La Crosse, WI 54603
Cost:$15.00/adult (first two adults)
$25.00/adult (additional adults)
$5.00/child (first two kids)
$12.00/child (additional children)

If inclement weather becomes an issue and the game is cancelled before the gates open, the group will have an opportunity to select another date based on availability or be refunded.  If the gate opens and then the game is rained out before it becomes fan complete (five complete innings or four and one-half innings with the home team leading), attendees will get their pass stamped upon exiting the park and can exchange for a party deck pass for a future game.

May Program

Cold Climate Building Design

Distinguished Lecturer: Erich Binder

Buildings in cold climates, arctic and subarctic climates face unique challenges; not only the cold, but also remoteness, limited utilities, permafrost, and extreme temperature shifts. Built structures must meet these challenges while maintaining occupant comfort and, if possible, minimizing impact on the environment.

Harmonizing human comfort with the climatic realities of these environments can be a delicate balancing act. Strategic design is key to building, commissioning, and operating efficient and long-lasting cold-climate structures. This unified guide to cold-climate design provides expert knowledge on the issues commonly faced in arctic and subarctic climates.

About the Presenter

Erich Binder is an independent engineering consultant with extensive experience in in the sustainable design of HVAC Systems engineering. He is also a Certified Risk Manager with over 20 years of Process Safety, Loss Prevention, Industrial Hygiene, Health & Safety Engineering and Auditing experience.

Erich has extensive experience engineering mechanical systems for a variety of cold climate applications. These include Oil Sands, SAGD and Mining Projects, Gas Processing, Metering Compression and Pipeline facilities, Upstream, Mid Stream, and Down Stream Facilities.


Date:Wednesday May 22nd, 2019
Time: 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
Place: Michaels Energy
400 Main St
Suite 200
La Crosse, WI 54601
Cost:Free (includes free lunch!)

Register by end of day Friday, May 17th

2019 History Article

Each year, our chapter submits a La Crosse Area Chapter’s history article to the ASHRAE Region VI Historian. The history article, along with a display board with photographs, are displayed at the ASHRAE Region VI CRC in Milwaukee. This year, our feature article is on the history of Michaels Energy. To read the entire article, visit the chapter history website.

In 1984, Jim Michaels, who had been working at an engineering and architecture firm in La Crosse, WI, partnered with Waffenschmidt and Hamilton to start Michaels Energy— a business focused on energy efficiency consulting for commercial and industrial customers. Michaels’ primary service offerings include energy efficiency program design and implementation, research and evaluation, retro-commissioning and systems optimization, and building systems design. Michaels currently has offices in La Crosse, Minneapolis, Madison, Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, and Denver with a total of 45 employees.

The founders of Michaels Energy: Jim Michaels and Dave Waffenschmidt

April Program Recap

Kwik Trip – Refrigeration Tour Recap

Tour Guides: Kevin Horstman & Chris Lejcher

Kwik Trip, Inc. currently has 6 Ammonia refrigeration plants that are used for the production of milk, ice cream, bread, buns, sweet goods, cubed ice, pizza, soup and many temperature controlled environments. The systems utilize 28 Frick and Vilter compressors. They range in size from 125 HP to 740 HP. Each system has 2 to 4 different suction groups for optimized efficiency. On campus, we have approximately 125,000 lbs. ammonia doing over 6000 T.R.

On this tour we we saw the warehouse including ice plant, banana ripening area, ammonia chiller room, and more!

Link to photos from the tour:

About the Presenters

Kevin Horstman is a member of the refrigeration maintenance team. Chris Lejcher is the Ice Plant Operations Superintendent.

March Program

Integrating Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Distinguished Lecturer: William P. Bahnfleth

Buildings are one of the largest energy end use sectors in countries around the globe. Concerns for the availability of energy supplies and the impact of energy use on the environment are driving a worldwide focus on energy end use reduction. In this push for dramatic changes in the energy use intensity of the building sector, it is essential that the fundamental importance of indoor environmental quality, particularly indoor air quality, not be lost. This presentation addresses: 1) the significance of indoor air quality in terms of its impact on health and productivity and associated costs; 2) the inseparable linkage between indoor air quality and building energy demands, including examples of efficient technologies for maintaining good indoor air quality; and 3) the need for an approach to building research, design, and operation that recognizes this connection.

About the Presenter

William Bahnfleth is Professor and Director of the Indoor Environment Center in the Department of Architectural Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in University Park, PA, where he has been employed since 1994. Previously, he was a Senior Consultant for ZBA, Inc. in Cincinnati, OH and a Principal Investigator at the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, IL. He holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, where he also earned a bachelor of music degree in instrumental performance. His is a registered professional engineer. At Penn State, Dr. Bahnfleth teaches undergraduate courses in HVAC fundamentals, system design, and controls and graduate courses in chilled water systems, hot water and steam systems, and indoor air quality. Dr. Bahnfleth is a fellow of ASHRAE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ). He has served ASHRAE in a variety of capacities, including Student Branch Advisor, Chapter Governor, Technical Committee and Standing Committee Chair, and as Director-at-Large, Vice President, Treasurer, and 2013-14 Society President.


Date:Wednesday March 20th, 2019
Time: 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
Place: Trane Technology Center (Bldg. 12)
Room 1A/1B
2313 S. 20th Street
La Crosse, WI 54601

Register by end of day Tuesday, March 19th

Joint Societies Meeting

Universities adapting to meet the demands of STEM education

Presenter: Dr. Joshua Gamer

The evolution of secondary and post-secondary education in meeting the needs of science and technology education. Looking ahead, all business will be facing a shortage of qualified employees.  When it comes to STEM fields, and the workforce within Wisconsin specifically, the outlook is even more troubling.  Join us in exploring how the technical college system is responding to this concern and specific actions and opportunities related to collaborations between local industry partners and secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.  Together, we can continue to strengthen our pipeline through increased exposure and defined pathways towards degree completion.  

About the Presenter

Dr. Joshua Gamer’s career began like many students in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Upon graduating high school, he immediately secured work within industry rather than pursuing post-secondary education. Josh worked in manufacturing and began his educational career as a non-traditional student, taking classes in the evenings while working during the day. As he completed each advanced degree—associate’s in Supervisory Management, bachelor’s in Business, master’s in Business Administration—he was given increased workplace responsibility and offered career advancement. In 2009, Josh transitioned into academia as a full-time instructor at WTC. He advanced in roles of increasing responsibility while completing graduate studies. In the spring of 2016, he completed his doctoral degree in Career and Technical Education and is currently serving as Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs at WTC. 

Dinner and Meeting Arrangements

This event will take place at the Lunda Center and will include a social hour with cash bar (one drink ticket is included with registration). After the social hour will be dinner followed by announcements and an introduction for Dr. Joshua Gamer.


5:00-6:00 PM – Social
6:00-6:45 PM – Buffet Dinner
6:40-7:00 PM – Announcements
7:00-8:00 PM – Presentation


Date:     Thursday February 21st, 2019
Place:    Western Technical College – Lunda Center
              319 7th St N, La Crosse, WI 54601
Cost:      $15 (includes one drink ticket)

Register by end of day Friday, February 15th

Engineer’s Week Call for Volunteers!

Engineers Week is next month and we are in need of volunteers! The event will again be hosted at Trane. We are expecting over 250 students to attend over a 5-day period, February 18 – 22 from the following schools.

Monday: Onalaska, Arcadia
Tuesday: La Crosse (Longfellow/LDI) and La Crescent
Wednesday: La Crosse (Lincoln/Logan), Mt Calvary
Thursday: West Salem and Aquinas
Friday: Holmen, St Peters

Here’s how you can help:
1)    Sign up to volunteer on the La Crosse Area ASHRAE website. Like last year, we have 90 volunteer slots to fill! Many need to be filled by Trane employees due to security reasons. Non-Trane volunteers can participate in the “Microprocessor Lego” activity as well as setup and cleanup.
2)    Donate supplies. Happen to have 200 pairs of safety glasses that you would like to get rid of? We’ll take them!
3)    Donate give-away items. These will be given to the students as prizes. Popular items are water bottles, phone chargers, and notebooks.

Any questions, contact Caitlin Bohnert at 608-787-2689. Engineers Week is a week dedicated to celebrate the contributions the engineering community makes to our society. It also promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields to younger generations, which is what our event is designed to accomplish.

The local ASHRAE chapter, along with the local IEEE chapter, is inviting 8th grade students from surrounding area school districts to come to the Trane campus for an event featuring discussions with people in various engineering disciplines, a tour of the Trane Technology Lab, a competitive activity and lunch.

Click here for more information on Engineers Week