Canadian Consulting Engineer

ASHRAE considering setting up new green building labelling system

Kent Peterson, president of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), ...

February 4, 2008   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Kent Peterson, president of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), gave a “State of the Society” address at the organization’s winter meeting held in New York City early in January.
It was evident from the speech that the venerable organization is now in the full swing of pursuing an environmental agenda. Ashrae is the primary organization representing engineers in the building design industry throughout North America.
Peterson began by saying “I can report today that sustainability principles have now been woven into the very fabric of Ashrae.” The theme of the conference itself was on achieving “zero energy” buildings, which are buildings that use no more energy than they themselves produce, whether that’s by having solar panels, wind turbines or other electricity generating technologies built into their structures.
Realizing that given the current state of the building industry, zero-energy buildings are a good distance away, the association is setting its immediate sights on a 50-per cent energy reduction, and will produce a guide on this later this year as one of its publications in the Advanced Energy Design Guide series. At the same time, Peterson did show a video that shows that a zero-energy building is possible even with today’s technologies.
Reducing the energy used by buildings could have an enormous impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming, said Peterson. He cited the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying “the global residential and commercial buildings sector has the greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using today’s technologies.” Informing the public about this potential was one of his main goals, he said.
In his speech, Peterson mentioned several concrete steps that Ashrae is taking to move forward its environmental agenda. It has formed a task group to look at” Exergy Analysis for Sustainable Buildings,” he explained, and the society is also continuing to update the efficiency requirements in Standard 90.1, so that these will eventually work their way into building codes.
Another key new initiative is Peterson’s appointment of an ad hoc committee to develop a program for green building labelling. The Ashrae Building Energy Labelling system would be used to measure a building’s actual energy performance. (It will be interesting to see how Ashrae’s green building labelling program fares in terms of becoming a “standard,” given that the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program is already fairly well established for new buildings.)
Ashrae also produces the Advanced Energy Design Guide series, including their latest one for schools, which provides guidance for achieving 30 per cent energy reduction guidelines. The guides are free for downloading from www.ashrae.org/freeaedg.
Peterson closed his speech, by saying: “Let us go forward this year and demonstrate to the world we can engineer sustainable solutions to improve the environment in which we live. We remain determined to make a difference!”


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