HVAC Industry Loses Forrest Fencl, Ultraviolet Treatment Pioneer

HVAC Industry Loses Forrest Fencl, Ultraviolet Treatment Pioneer

Forrest B. Fencl, chief executive and co-founder of UV Resources, passed away on Saturday, August 1, at his home after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

A lifelong inventor and respected industry leader, Mr. Fencl pioneered the modern application of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UV-C) in HVAC&R equipment, writing or co-writing 17 patents and several American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Handbook chapters related to ultraviolet air and surface treatment.

In 2010, Mr. Fencl was named a Lifetime Fellow by ASHRAE, a distinction that recognizes outstanding contributions to industry research, education or engineering.

He was also the driving force behind two companies—Steril-Aire and UV Resources—that provide surface and airborne microbial control and organic materials decontamination.

"Forrest was a tremendous leader, great friend and mentor to me and so many others," says Dan Jones, president and co-founder of UV Resources. "He was a man of exceptional character and integrity who would do what was right and courageous no matter the pressures to do otherwise. Forrest will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him."

According to Jones, Mr. Fencl’s work around coil irradiation led to optimized UV-C effectiveness in the hostile cold and fast-moving air of HVAC&R systems. Mr. Fencl founded two companies that specialize in the development and application of UV-C energy to disinfect air, surfaces and other applications related to HVAC&R equipment. He served as president and CEO of Steril-Aire from 1995 to 2002, and CEO of UV Resources from 2005 to 2015, following a distinguished 25-year career at Farr Company (now the Camfil Group).


Mr. Fencl was a prolific writer and enthusiastic educator through his more than 50 years serving the industry, authoring over a hundred articles and papers on UV-C that range from bio-remediation, IAQ, food and pharmaceutical issues, to bio-warfare agent protection with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“Forrest had a profound impact on the development of HVAC&R applications of ultraviolet germicidal radiation”, says William P. “Bill” Bahnfleth, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State University and 2013-2014 president of ASHRAE. “He contributed to the development of modern UVGI technology as evidenced by his seventeen patents, founded two of the major manufacturers of UVGI equipment, and devoted considerable effort to educating the professional community about the benefits of properly applied UVGI."

"As a charter member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 2.9 Ultraviolet Air and Surface Treatment, he helped establish UVGI as a mainstream technology through the writing of handbook chapters and standards, and by serving for ten years as an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer," continues Bahnfleth. His innovations not only improve indoor air quality, they boost system performance and save energy. Forrest’s passion for his work and for service to humanity will be missed – they made a real difference in the lives of others.”

He served ASHRAE throughout his entire career, including 10 years as a Distinguished Lecturer and, later, as a voting member for its technical committee TC-2.9 (Ultraviolet Air and Surface Treatment). He also co-authored the association’s definitive 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2015 Handbook Chapters on the application of UV-C technology in HVAC&R systems.

Through these efforts, Jones says that the industry began to modify its standard of care for HVAC&R equipment relative to the application of UV-C. Among other contributions in the air filtration community, he fathered the Two-Step Design Guide, an engineering tool for utilizing the best of ASHRAE Standard 62-1989.


Before beginning his corporate career, Mr. Fencl served as an electronics technician in the United States Navy aboard the USS Wilkinson destroyer.

He was a long-time resident of Huntington Beach, Calif., and was very active in his church there, Grace Lutheran Church, where he co-founded the Good News Ministry to feed the hungry.

In addition to a distinguished professional career, Mr. Fencl freely shared his expertise with air quality, biological safety and infection control colleagues, as well as with members of the International Ultraviolet Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society.

He also had close working relationships outside the HVAC&R industry, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and NASA.

“Forrest consulted with NASA scientists and engineers on the development of the first solid state UV-C decontamination system to be operated on a manned space vehicle,” recalls Jim Good, a senior system engineer with aerospace and engineering contractor, Teledyne Brown Engineering. “This system has been operating on board the International Space Station since June of 2014, providing significant enhancements to science operations and protecting the crew from biohazards in biological samples. His most recent collaboration was helping develop an earth-based system to revolutionize microbial inactivation in large medical and office facilities.”

In addition to his wife of 24 years, Laurie, survivors include three children: Kristena, Karolyn and Forrest “Cole”; three grandchildren: Victoria, Katherine and Isabella; and an expected great-grandchild.

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to:

Good News Ministry
c/o Grace Lutheran Church
6931 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647