ASHRAE reaffirms commitment to landmark energy standard

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-conditioning Engineers is moving forward in developing the nation's first standard for high-performance, green commercial buildings after disbanding the committee's original membership and reconstituting the committee.

Atlanta — The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-conditioning Engineers is moving forward in developing the nation's first standard for high-performance, green commercial buildings after disbanding the committee's original membership and reconstituting the committee.

ASHRAE's partners in the effort, Proposed Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, are the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

Standard 189 will provide minimum requirements for the design of high-performance new commercial buildings and major renovation projects, addressing energy efficiency, a building's impact on the atmosphere, sustainable sites, water use efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

ASHRAE said the move to dismiss all of the members of the committee was an internal decision made by the Standards Committee, the group that supervises all standards-making activity within the Society.

“The Standards Committee felt we needed to take a look and make sure all the people materially affected were represented at the table,” said Bill Harrison, ASHRAE president, president of Trane Arkansas, Little Rock, Ark. “We had a good broad balance … but the Standards Committee felt that there were some materially affected parties that should be members of the committee. Hopefully, many of the people who worked on the committee will reapply for membership.”

It was first reported on the Web site Buildinggreen.com, however, that ASHRAE was responding to pressure from outside organizations, “including steel, gas and utilities, wood, and building owner interests.” According to Buildinggreen.com, those groups may have felt that ASHRAE, as a mechanical engineering society, was overstepping its bounds in creating a standard that would affect entire buildings.

The standard would require that buildings be more substantially efficient than required by its Standard 90.1-2007, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The Society is continually tightening the requirements for Standard 90, working toward net zero energy buildings by 2030.

The U.S. Green Building Council reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Standard 189.1P, which will be America's first national standard developed to be used as a green building code when completed. Created specifically for adoption by states, localities, and other building code jurisdictions that are ready to require a minimum level of green building performance for all commercial buildings, Standard 189.1P is being developed as an ANSI standard.

“As green building goes mainstream, government leaders are asking for tools that set minimum standards for green building,” said Jason Hartke, director of advocacy and public policy, USGBC. “And Standard 189 will be an important part of that toolkit.”

“Leading cities including Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles require most commercial buildings to reach LEED Silver; and earlier this year, the State of California authored and adopted a statewide green building code.

While rebuilding the committee will mean delays, USGBC remains confident in the quality of the final result.

Brendan Owens, VP of LEED Technical Development, USGBC, and a member of the Standard 189.1 P elaborated, “USGBC is deeply committed to our work with ASHRAE and to the integrity of the standard's content. Creating a national green building code is imperative to our mission of market transformation, and we will be 100% engaged to make sure it delivers on that promise.”

In a separate bit of good news for ASHRAE, the U.S. Department of Energy has issued a ruling that states must now certify that their building codes meet the requirements in ASHRAE/IESNA's 2004 energy efficiency standard, because the standard saves more energy than an earlier version.

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004 has been established by the DOE as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes under the federal Energy Policy Act.

The Act requires all states to certify that they have state energy codes in place that are at least as stringent as 90.1-2004, or justify why they cannot comply. The DOE determined that Standard 90.1-2004 saves more energy than Standard 90.1-1999, which was the previously referenced standard in the Act.

ASHRAE publishes a revised version of the standard every three years. The 2007 version of Standard 90.1 was released last year.