Manufacturing innovation in industrial, commercial and residential air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration does not just benefit the makers and users of the equipment. An awards program designed to recognize and reward manufacturing innovation has benefited local charities across the United States.

As a result of the AHR Expo Innovation Awards, more than $100,000 has been donated to charities during the awards program’s 10-year history. In 2012 alone, due to a record number of companies entering the competition, more than $12,000 will be donated to a Chicago-area charitable organization.

Manufacturers pay $75 fee to enter products and technologies in the annual competition, which was created in 2002 to recognize the most innovative and useful products among the thousands on display at AHR Expo. The proceeds from the entry fees are donated to a local charitable organization located in the host city of each year’s event. The 2012 recipient will use the donation to improve its HVACR systems.

Widely recognized as one of the most prestigious honors in the HVACR industry, the competition is sponsored by ASHRAE, AHRI and AHR Expo. Entries are judged on the basis of innovative design, application, market impact and value to the HVACR industry. The awards also are meant to promote and encourage new product development in major categories such as cooling, heating, refrigeration, software and tools and instrumentation.

The winners of the 2012 Innovation Awards will be recognized during the AHR Expo, planned for January 23-25 at McCormick Place in Chicago.