Erin McConahey, ASHRAE Fellow, HDBP
900 Wilshire Boulevard, 19th floor
Los Angeles, California 90017
United States
Region: X
Honorarium: Negotiable

Erin McConahey is a Principal in Mechanical Engineering with Arup, an employee-owned global engineering, advisory and planning consulting firm. During her 26 years with Arup, she has worked internationally and now leads multidisciplinary design teams in Los Angeles on a wide variety of project types.

Erin’s passion for finding integrated design solutions through a collaborative design process began with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. As she rose in leadership within her firm, she served on Arup’s global Trustee Board, was named an Arup Fellow for her technical excellence, spearheaded the Americas Region Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and served on the leadership teams for a number of training programs. These service opportunities, coupled with growing concern over climate change, led her to a second Master’s degree in Ethical Leadership from Claremont Lincoln University.

Erin is a Professional Engineer in California and Colorado, a LEED accredited professional (BD+C specialty), an ASHRAE accredited High Performance Building Design Professional, and a Fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers. She is co-author of the ASHRAE Natural Ventilation Design Guide and writes semi-annually for the Engineer’s Notebook column in ASHRAE Journal. In the latter capacity, she has emphasized the link between mechanical engineers’ “skills for this decade” to the wider global trends around the carbon economy, healthy materials, and sustainable development.

An Inclusion Mindset
Recent events highlight the need to have a frank conversation about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. As a minimum standard in civil society, all people should be able to come to work without being harassed, belittled or pre-judged. This session is about how to grow beyond that minimum standard towards an inclusion mindset that actively seeks the breadth of thought that comes when organizations incorporate diversity within their midst as a better reflection of the real world. The speaker will weave together story, research from the US, and personal insight to discuss the topic of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with the goal of empowering audience members to own their voice, authority, and influence.
Principles of Museum Environmental Design
This session will discuss the key principles involved in managing the needs of the patrons with the long-term preservation of precious artifacts when designing museum environments. The speaker will begin with a brief overview of the mechanisms of artifact damage and follow with a collection of short case studies demonstrating the HVAC solutions typically used to create stable conservation environments.
The Feasibility of Natural Ventilation
This session will describe process of early phase analysis that a design team can to test whether natural ventilation is a feasible comfort-conditioning system for a given climate and building configuration. The speaker will build on her “Natural Ventilation Top 10 Feasibility Questions” from an ASHRAE Journal article to cover compliance with ASHRAE Standards 55 and 62.1 and a discussion of the impact of climate change.
Holistic Thinking for Multidisciplinary Design Solutions
Designers of building HVAC systems do not act in a void but rather in a community of design and construction professionals who are all dedicated to the success of a given project. We can better contribute to this success when we understand the perspectives of our partners and can articulate our own technical parameters in a way that looks for synergy without strife. This session will draw on the speaker’s two decades of experience as a design leader of teams with up to a dozen different analytical disciplines. The talk starts by introducing the idea of unconscious bias built into our professional world view by our academic and specialist training and then turns to tips for transcending that bias to develop design empathy and proactive working relationships. By exploring a series of short case studies involving interface and coordination between architectural, structural, civil, MEP, façade, acoustics, fire and sustainability disciplines working in the building design context, the audience will be able to better recognize the needs and design sensibilities of our partners outside of the HVAC field.
Cutting Carbon and Circular Diets: Total Net Zero Carbon Consciousness
This session is an introduction to the areas in which HVAC engineers have influence on reducing the absolute carbon footprint in buildings. Topics areas include operational carbon, embodied carbon, and carbon equivalents found in the HVAC manufacturing, design and construction process, expanding on the speaker’s May 2020 ASHRAE Journal article on these topics.
Material Concerns in HVAC Equipment
This session is an introduction to the areas in which HVAC equipment manufacturers and design engineers have influence on increasing the use of healthy materials in equipment. Topics areas include an introduction to the principles around the use of healthier materials, the key product or components where materials of concern are found in HVAC equipment, and the steps the industry can take to begin to convert the supply chain. This session expands on the speaker’s October 2020 ASHRAE Journal article on these topics.
Introduction to the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Mechanical Engineers
This session is an introduction to the UN Sustainable Development goals as a paradigm in growing use by government agencies, international businesses, and non-profit organizations to align their development activities. With ratification by 193 countries, this global initiative attempts to ensure that future climate action has parallel attention to improvement in standard of living throughout the world. The speaker will discuss the areas in which HVAC design may play a part. This session expands on the speaker’s April 2021 ASHRAE Journal article on these topics.
The Carbon Context for Mechanical Engineers
This session is an introduction to the big picture trends associated with the growing momentum around building decarbonization. It includes a review of market-related concerns arising from ESG reporting (Environmental, Social, Governance), the trends towards lowered carbon intensity of electricity at the grid level, the emerging local regulatory influence, and technology considerations. This session expands on the speaker’s September 2021 ASHRAE Journal article on these topics.