Department of Energy updates national reference standard for commercial buildings

November 2, 2011

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a ruling that established the 2010 standard that was adopted by the organization as the commercial building reference for state building energy codes, according to a release from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

The announcement came after preliminary analysis showed that the 2010 efficiency standards contain savings that are 18.2 percent higher than those posted in the 2007 standard that was issued by the government organization.

Efforts by the DOE are not limited to issuing guidelines and outlining the best practices for buildings in a report, as the government organization has injected funding into an initiative located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The DOE set up the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings project (GPIC), to act as a living laboratory for the design and development of energy efficient buildings and technology.

This cross-disciplinary, bipartisan effort was enacted to address the 40 percent total energy consumption that 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. are currently responsible for. Technology developed at the site could help to reverse this trend.

According to the release, the Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings aspect of the 2010 report helped achieve lower consumption. This was due to the use of better lighting and improved control over mechanical systems and applications that were highlighted in the standard.

"The foundation of energy efficient buildings continues to grow stronger with the news that DOE is now referencing the 2010 standard," Ron Jarnagin, ASHRAE president, said. "ASHRAE hopes to make that foundation even stronger through our current work with [Illuminating Engineering Society] IES developing the 2013 standard."

The DOE noted that the newer version of the standard contains 19 positive impacts on energy efficiency. Included in these are changes that were made through the public review process, which offer guidance on proposed requirements.

"The DOE has determined that the quantitative analysis of the energy consumption of buildings built to Standard 90.1-2010, as compared to buildings built to Standard 90.1-2007, indicates national source energy savings of approximately 18.2 percent of commercial building consumption," according to DOE officials. "Additionally, DOE has determined site energy savings are estimated to be approximately 18.5 percent."