Standard 189.1P: The future of green buildings

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, along with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, has been working on a new standard that essentially defines the minimum requirements for a high-performance green building. As it is standard that sets minimum requirements, Standard 189.1P, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, could very well become a code requirement in local jurisdictions for all buildings whose owners want to tout them as being “green.”

There is no question that high-performance green buildings are quickly becoming the norm of the building industry — as they should. Such buildings represent an enormous potential for saving energy and reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

While building owners and occupants reap the eventual benefits of better performing buildings, contractors, architects and engineers can benefit from learning about what it takes to create a high-performance building so they can secure more business and better understand what value building owners and developers want.

There are many ways people define a “green” building. Energy-saving measures, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and building orientations all play a role, but it is the way that all of these — and more — come together to make a healthy, safe and efficient building that makes it truly high performing. In recognition of this, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, along with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, has been working on a new standard that essentially defines the minimum requirements for a high-performance green building.

As it is standard that sets minimum requirements, Standard 189.1P, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, could very well become a code requirement in local jurisdictions for all buildings whose owners want to tout them as being “green.” As everyone seems to be going green these days, this makes it even more important for contractors and the rest of the building community to get on board with and learn about Standard 189.1.

Building designers and contractors must understand the fundamental elements and processes of high-performance green buildings to provide value-based services to building owners. Standard 189.1 addresses nearly all of the elements that make a building high-performing: site sustainability, water use efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and the building's impact on the atmosphere, materials and resources.

The standard also specifies requirements for construction and operation plans, including the commissioning process, building acceptance testing, measurement and verification, energy use reporting, durability, transportation management, erosion and sediment control, construction, and indoor air quality during construction.

By applying the minimum set of prescriptive recommendations, proposed Standard 189.1P leads to significant energy and water savings. Based on analysis of the first public review draft, site energy savings ranging from 10% to 41% over ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007, including plug and process loads and all other energy consumption for the building, with an average of 24.9% for all climates. The proposed standard also provides indoor water savings of 35% for an office building and 26% for a multifamily building.

As you can see, many of these areas have the potential to affect contractors on new construction and renovation projects for commercial buildings. By learning about this standard now, you will be placing yourself in a unique position to help advise building owners and project teams how to comply with this standard and make buildings truly high-performing. Proposed Standard 189.1 recently completed its second public review period.

While Standard 189.1 is not written to apply to all buildings, local jurisdictions could very well place it in commercial building codes to apply to all government buildings or all buildings of a certain type. In fact, several cities across the nation — and even other nations, such as India — have already expressed interest in applying the standard in some way once it is complete.

This interest shows that the marketplace is ready for a green building standard that sets minimum energy efficiency requirements beyond those in Standard 90.1, pushing the building industry toward the goal that ASHRAE has set of making net-zero-energy buildings commonplace. It is essential for the energy independence of the United States — and of the world — that the marketplace continues to transform to support more energy efficient and sustainable buildings. Consuming 40% of the nation's energy, buildings represent the largest sector of primary energy consumption. High-performing green buildings should have a starring role in reducing the world's collective carbon footprint.

But such buildings don't happen by themselves. You need the right project team, the dedication of the building owner, the right site and sustainable materials, and of course you need the right technology and set of practices that will tie everything together to make the building a reality. That is where proposed Standard 189.1 comes into play.

ASHRAE and its partners have realized the need for this standard, and now is the time for you to realize that each of us have a role to play in transforming the marketplace as well. Building industry support will be needed to move the building industry forward toward high-performance, green buildings. I urge you to learn about proposed Standard 189.1 and support its adoption in your local jurisdiction. Together, we can help save energy today to create more blue skies for tomorrow.

Kent Peterson, P.E., is chief engineer, P2S Engineering, Long Beach, Calif. He is serving as ASHRAE's 2007-2008 president. Additional information about Standard 189.1P, is available by contacting Steve Ferguson, ASHRAE's assistant manager of standards-codes, at sferguson@ashrae.org, or at http://spc189.ashraepcs.org.