Understanding the ASHRAE 90.1 Standard for Commercial Buildings

understanding c ASHRAE for commercial buildings

As societies grapple with the escalating challenges of climate change and resource depletion, energy efficiency has become a paramount consideration, prompting the establishment of strict energy code standards for commercial buildings. These codes serve as comprehensive guidelines aimed at optimizing energy performance and minimizing environmental impact within the commercial real estate sector. One of such codes fostering sustainable practices in the built environment is the ASHRAE 90.1 standard.

What is ASHRAE 90.1?

ASHRAE 90.1, crafted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), is a comprehensive set of guidelines used for measuring energy in commercial buildings. It covers many aspects of energy management, such as total consumption, HVAC and lighting systems, and individual circuits.

For over 35 years, this standard has served as a benchmark for energy codes in the United States’ commercial building sector and has been a fundamental reference point for codes and standards globally. Offering widespread guidance, the standard describes the essential prerequisites for energy-efficient design in most buildings. It outlines the minimal energy efficiency criteria applicable to the design and construction of new buildings, and their systems. It also extends its reach to encompass new systems and equipment within existing buildings, accompanied by specific criteria to evaluate compliance with these requisites. For professionals engaged in the design of buildings and building systems, this standard stands as an indispensable resource, providing crucial insights and guidelines.

These specifications – broken down further below – can be applied to an extensive array of commercial buildings, encompassing everything from office spaces and retail establishments to schools and healthcare facilities, with the latest 2023 version excluding low-rise residential buildings. Its full scope ensures a broad impact on the diverse landscape of the commercial sector.

Building envelope requirements

ASHRAE 90.1 places significant emphasis on the building envelope—the physical barrier between the interior and exterior environments. Stringent requirements regarding insulation, windows, and doors contribute to minimizing heat transfer, enhancing thermal comfort, and reducing energy consumption.

Lighting systems and controls

Illumination plays a pivotal role in commercial spaces, and ASHRAE 90.1 addresses this by setting standards for lighting systems and controls. Efficient lighting design, occupancy sensors, and daylight harvesting strategies are integral components aimed at optimizing energy use without compromising illumination quality.

HVAC systems and efficiency

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are major energy consumers in commercial buildings. ASHRAE 90.1 mandates efficiency standards for HVAC equipment, encouraging the use of advanced technologies and ensuring that systems are designed and maintained to operate at peak performance.

Energy Cost Budget Method

The standard introduces the Energy Cost Budget Method, a performance-based approach to compliance. This method evaluates the overall energy use of a building, providing flexibility in meeting efficiency goals while considering the unique characteristics of different projects.

Benefits and impacts

Compliance with ASHRAE 90.1 not only aligns with sustainability goals but also yields tangible benefits for building owners, property managers, occupants, and the environment. Reduced energy costs, improved indoor air quality, and a smaller carbon footprint are among the positive outcomes of adhering to these standards.

Applying the standard with metering

Submetering plays a pivotal role in facilitating compliance with ASHRAE 90.1 standards within commercial buildings, offering a nuanced approach to energy management. By deploying submeters to measure and monitor individual energy consumption within specific building zones or systems, businesses gain a granular understanding of their energy usage patterns.

This detailed data enables building owners to identify inefficiencies, pinpoint areas for improvement, and implement targeted strategies to meet or exceed the stringent energy efficiency requirements outlined in ASHRAE 90.1. Submetering allows for a more precise evaluation of the performance of lighting, HVAC systems, and other energy-consuming components, ensuring that each aspect aligns with the standard’s specifications. This data acquired through submetering empowers building operators to fine-tune their energy conservation efforts, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and compliant commercial building environment.

The industry standard

ASHRAE 90.1 stands as a beacon guiding the commercial real estate industry toward a future of heightened energy efficiency. Its multifaceted approach addresses various facets of building design and operation, ensuring that structures are not only compliant but also contribute to a more sustainable and resilient built environment. As the industry continues to evolve, ASHRAE 90.1 remains a dynamic force, shaping the energy landscape of commercial buildings.

See also:

Leave a comment

Learn What Makes QMC One of North America's Leading Metering Experts.

Contact us for a consultation on your new or retrofit project today.