Building designs for lifelong efficiency

August 15, 2000
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SEATTLE — ASHRAE has recommended a lifecycle environmental approach to the design and operation of buildings in a Climate Change Position Statement and Paper approved at the society’s 1999 Annual Meeting here.

The document recommends that buildings be evaluated to lessen greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for climate change based on their projected energy requirements and emissions of refrigerants.

Hvacr systems contribute greenhouse gas releases directly and indirectly through energy-related effects and through the effect of refrigerant losses.

The paper recommends minimizing emissions of refrigerants and incorporating rigorous refrigerant conservation measures during design, manufacture, installation, operation, service, recovery, and disposal.

Also, the document advocates reducing the energy consumption of equipment, systems, and buildings, and modifying the energy conservation practices of building operators and occupants to lessen energy-related impacts on the environment. It is written from an international perspective.

A lifecycle environmental approach is needed to reduce a building’s energy consumption during its lifetime.

A key element in the building’s design is the choices made that influence building operation — hvacr equipment and systems, building envelope alternatives, types of insulating materials, lighting and daylighting, glazing and fenestration, natural ventilation, and energy-recovery opportunities.

Society's commitment

ASHRAE commits itself to several initiatives. The society said it will:

  • Take a lead role in addressing the sources of building-related emissions, focusing on the entire building;

  • Take a leadership role in promoting the use of lifecycle, environmental, and economic impact assessments in building design and operation (care must be taken to ensure that near-term economic concerns do not discount long-term environmental impacts);

  • Continue to emphasize improving energy efficiency and use in hvacr technology, to minimize the emission of CO2 from energy use.

  • Continue to encourage the proper handling of all refrigerants to minimize losses to the atmosphere; and

  • Recommend that decision-makers consider all environmental impacts prior to taking action in response to climate change; integrated assessments and balance are needed in addressing environmental issues to avoid solutions that remedy one problem at the expense of another.

Several ASHRAE standards address these climate change concerns. Newly revised ASHRAE Standard 90.1-1999, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, is expected to reduce energy use by 16% over the 1989 standard.

ASHRAE Standard 90.2 on energy conservation of new residential buildings, and Standard 100 on energy conservation in existing buildings, also provide guidance on reducing energy use.

The society’s standards on refrigerants include Standard 15 on safety, Standard 34 on safety classifications, and Guideline 3 on reducing the emissions of refrigerants from equipment and systems.

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