Steps To Take To Be Compliant With ASHRAE 90.1-2010

By Lindsay Audin  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: How Tougher Energy Efficiency Standards Will Affect Facility ManagersPt. 2: Tighter Energy Codes Are Applying To Smaller Buildings, Building Systems Pt. 3: This PagePt. 4: What You Need To Know About The ASHRAE 90.1 Standard Process

Facility managers who may need to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 (or some state-modified version thereof) should think through how they may do so at the design stage for any new construction, renovation, or equipment replacement. Trying to make a project compliant once purchasing or construction has started is too late. Because the standard could take effect for many this fall, projects presently on the drawing board may need some tweaking.

As with all prior versions of the ASHRAE code, two general paths are available for determining compliance:

  • A prescriptive approach involves choosing compliant equipment and systems based on each item's energy characteristics: percent efficiency for motors, R-values for insulation, for example.
  • A performance approach allows an integrated design that may include some variation on ASHRAE requirements if the net performance of a system or building meets the ASHRAE standard. Such a design may involve trade-offs of one option against another. For instance, reducing window-to-wall ratio will cut heat loss but also reduces daylighting potential. Installation of on-site generation using renewable energy systems may negate consumption by less efficient systems. To demonstrate overall compliance, an hour-by-hour computer model performed by an independent contractor may be needed.

As with earlier code versions, various alternative methods for compliance (e.g., room-by-room lighting power density versus overall system LPD) are offered. To minimize the costs for compliance, designers experienced with such options should be involved, especially for large or complex facilities. ASHRAE's Energy Cost Budget Method allows building designers some latitude to trade off lower efficiency options they want by also including different options that exceed the ASHRAE standard sufficiently to compensate. While this method is more complex, it should be considered. Options that are cost-effective in one region may not be elsewhere. Being able to take into account one's local energy pricing may allow some wiggle room when trying to find a lower cost way to comply.

Lindsay Audin, CEM, LEED AP, CEP, is president of EnergyWiz, an energy consulting firm based in Croton, N.Y. He is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management. He can be reached at

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  posted on 10/4/2013   Article Use Policy

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