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What is ASHRAE 189.1?

Codes, Green Building, ASHRAE

Today's tip is about the new ASHRAE green building standard. The standard, officially titled ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1-2009 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, is the first comprehensive green building standard written in mandatory code language.

According to ASHRAE leadership, more than 1,400 authorities having jurisdiction have already expressed interest in adopting the standard, which was released in January at ASHRAE’s winter meeting. In March, ASHRAE announced a partnership with the International Code Council, which is developing its own green building code titled the International Green Construction Code. Due out in final form in 2012, IGCC will include Standard 189.1 as a jurisdictional compliance option, meaning that building owners can choose to use 189.1 to comply in any jurisdiction that also adopts the IGCC. This is a huge deal, as the International Code Council is the most widely know and best-accepted code-writing body.

ASHRAE's 189.1 differs from LEED in that LEED always was intended to be a voluntary system and never supposed to be a code. So the U.S. Green Building Council had a vested interested in developing 189.1 because it gives jurisdictions a LEED-like option for a green building code without have to use LEED. As Brendan Owens of USGBC says "Codes set the floor and rating systems set the ceilings. There’s always been a conceptual interplay between these two instruments."

ASHRAE executives expect that it may be a few months before any jurisdiction is able to adopt the new standard. ASHRAE expects that most jurisdictions that adopt the standard will do so holistically - for both public and private buildings, essentially ensuring that every new building built in that jurisdiction is a green building.

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