Modern Day ASHRAE: A Merge of Two Organizations

Updated: Jun 21

Ventilation is a hot topic nowadays, but have you ever wondered where the standards for ventilation started? Modern day ASHRAE has evolved from a merge between the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASH&VE) and the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE).


As air conditioning technology advanced in the 1920’s, it generated great interest from

members of both societies. Despite common interests and membership overlap, consolidation of the two societies had been rejected multiple times until the late 1950’s. In 1954 ASH&VE adopted a new name, the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE), to recognize the significant interest in the air conditioning field. Later that year, ASRE voted on adding “Air-Conditioning” to their name as well but was not included due to lack of overall votes. Over the years, the two groups grew towards each other with significant overlap in membership, research, professional goals, and industry interests. Talks of the merger began being re-evaluated in 1956 and progressed until 1958. This merger faced opposition from individuals who were interested in niche sectors of either the heating and ventilation industry or the refrigeration industry.


In June of 1958, the Proposed Merger Plan was sent to each society to discuss amongst its members. Two big proponents for this merger were the ASHAE president Elmer Queer and ASRE president Cecil Boling, both serving their terms during this time. Both presidents traveled the country to explain the details of the merger plan, so members could make their decisions.


The general body members from both societies met on December 1st later that year to determine the fate of the two organizations. Members of both societies voted at their respective annual meetings, ASHAE in Chicago and ASRE in New Orleans. The societies needed 66% approval in order to move forward with the plan. The merger was overwhelmingly supported by ASHAE members, shown by a vote of 5,307 for to 405 against and supported by the majority of ASRE members, 3,516 for to 1,293 against.


In January of 1959, Cecil Boling (previous ASRE president) became the first president of the newly formed American Society of Heating and Refrigerating Engineers. Boling thought it was in the best interest of ASRE to merge with ASHAE stating, “True numbers alone do not make a great organization. But the give and take of the past few months offers convincing evidence that the members of ASRE and ASHAE have the highest professional standards, clear cut objectives for further accomplishments and the sustained ability and willingness to see things through to rewarding ends. ASHRAE will greatly strengthen our profession”. Since then, ASHRAE has grown immensely with over 57,000 members from 132 countries in a number of different professions.


Written by:

Erica Norquist

Mechanical Designer

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