The Latest ASHRAE Standards Improve Energy Conservation and Cost Savings, But Are You Up to Speed?


The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) publishes thousands of standards for the design and maintenance of indoor environments.

For energy-efficient building design, ASHRAE’s latest version of 90.1 is the 10th edition published since the original standard was first published in 1975 during the energy crisis of the United States. Standard 90.1 provides the minimum requirements for energy-efficient design of most buildings, except low-rise residential buildings. It offers, in detail, the minimum energy efficiency requirements for design and construction of new buildings and their systems, new portions of buildings and their systems, and new systems and equipment in existing buildings, as well as criteria for determining compliance with these requirements.

Total Energy Conservation and Cost Savings

According to Department of Energy (DOE) analysis, buildings meeting 90.1-2016 (as compared to the previous 2013 edition) would result in national energy cost savings of approximately 8.2 percent, as regulated by the model code.

The follow are DOE’s energy conservation estimates of national savings in commercial buildings:

  • 8.3% energy cost savings
  • 7.9% source energy savings
  • 6.8% site energy savings

To get up to speed on the latest ASHRAE standards, including 90.1-2016, view RedVector’s energy conservation /ASHRAE courses.

What’s New with ASHRAE?

As compared to the previous 2013 edition, some of the mechanical-related standard changes include:

  • New climate zone assignments from ASHRAE Standard 169-2013
  • Replacement equipment to follow some mandatory and prescriptive requirements (other than just efficiency)
  • New coverage in equipment classes such as DOAS, CRAC and pool dehumidifiers
  • Upgraded efficiency in packaged DX rooftops, PTAC and VRF
  • Economizer fault detection in packaged DX equipment
  • Variable airflow exhaust- and returnfan VFD control for building pressure control
  • VFD threshold reductions (towers, pumps, fans)
  • Fan system control 5 hp threshold moved to subsections
  • Chilled-water plant monitoring
  • 15°F minimum design delta T for cooling coil selections
  • Chilled water reset alternative to pump pressure reset


The Zero Code

In June 2018, Architecture 2030 released ZERO Code, a building energy standard for new building construction that includes both energy efficiency standards and renewable energy sources to create buildings that release net-zero carbon. The ZERO Code includes potential paths for efficiency compliance, as well as an energy calculator that makes it easier to crunch the numbers. According to Architecture 2030, part of the ZERO Code’s strength is that it builds on existing standards to make it easier for architects to measure: The ZERO Code uses the current national building energy code standard, ASHRAE 90.1-2016, for building energy efficiency and then adds on-site and/or off-site renewable energy procurement to achieve net-zero carbon.

For details on building maintenance training, view the complete facilities management library.


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