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ASHRAE to set US sustainability targets

An ambitious and comprehensive technical standard that will shape US national sustainability legislation is to be unveiled by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) later this year.


Senior members of the Society revealed details of Standard 189.1 during ASHRAE Winter Meeting in New York.


The standard, which is being written in ‘code’ language that means it can be directly incorporated into US national Building Codes (the equivalent of UK Building Regulations) sets mandatory targets for sustainable sites, water use, energy efficiency, atmospheric emissions, building materials and indoor environmental quality (IEQ).


“This is not a guide and not a rating system,” said Mark MacCracken, vice-chair of the committee established to write the standard. “It is a prescriptive document that clearly states ‘you shall do this and you shall do that’.”


The Standard for the Design of High Performance Green Buildings applies to all new commercial and residential projects, except for those of three storeys and less. It gives detailed descriptions of mandatory and prescriptive items, but also a series of “more sophisticated” performance options that give designers flexibility in how they choose to meet the performance standards.


The final document will include aspects of measures proposed by several US Federal agencies, the American Institute of Architects and the US Conference of Mayors.


The energy efficiency baseline is 30 per cent lower than the level set in ASHRAE’s 2007 energy conservation Standard 90.1 and the US Department of the Environment confirmed that an average cut of 27 per cent would be achieved across all buildings – although there are wide variations between building types and climatic conditions.


All new buildings will be required by law to receive 1 per cent of peak energy demand from renewables and Mr MacCracken said that, although this was a small target, it was “an important first step”.


“There was a lot of pressure to set this figure higher and plenty of pressure to have no renewables at all,” he told H&V News. “However, we thought it was important to at least get renewables into the minds of building owners and the public.”


The proposed Standard also requires an overall 20 per cent reduction in plumbing fixtures and fittings, appliances and hvac equipment. However, to satisfy productivity and health concerns, ventilation rates have been set 30 per cent higher than existing standards for offices and classrooms with CO2 monitoring made compulsory for all densely occupied, mechanically ventilated spaces.


Minimum acoustic and thermal comfort criteria have also been set along with targets for greater use of daylight. Artificial lighting is to be reduced by 10 per cent from current standards.


All construction materials are subject to lifecycle and recyclability analysis, and refrigerant use is also covered under the materials section. All buildings over 5,000 sq ft must be fully commissioned and acceptance testing for hvac and lighting systems in smaller buildings will follow the strict guidelines established by the state of California, which has been an environmental pacesetter.


The ASHRAE Standard will be released for public review this spring with full publication due later in the year.