ATLANTA - Guidance for building design engineers and owners that will result in buildings cutting their energy usage in half by 2010 currently is being developed by leading organizations in the building environment industry. Achieving that goal will require more than simply substituting or adopting new technologies and systems. It will acquire changes in design practice in which the design team converts energy strategies into building plans, sections, details, and construction.

An update on some of the measures that have been demonstrated to yield significant energy reductions will be presented at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE’s) 2007 Winter Meeting in a seminar, “Achieving 50 Percent and Beyond Approach to Net Zero Energy Use in Buildings Part 1.” It takes place from 7:45-9:15 a.m., Monday, Jan. 29, and is followed by Part 2 from 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The guidance is being developed by ASHRAE in cooperation with the American Institute of Architects, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and the U.S. Green Building Council, through a series of Advanced Energy Design Guides for the commercial building sector.

John Mitchell, P.E., is chairing a scoping committee studying ways to achieve building designs as close as is feasible to net zero energy use, defined as “a building which, on an annual basis, uses no more energy than is provided by the building’s on-site renewable energy sources.” This study will provide the basis for the development of Advanced Energy Design Guides to go 50 percent and beyond minimum standards for energy use.

“The goal of a 50 percent approach to net zero energy use, on either a site or source basis, is feasible,” he said. “There are no apparent technological barriers to achieve the desired energy reductions, but aggressive energy conservation strategies and energy generation are needed.”

The scoping study recently was completed and identified measures that achieve significant energy savings. Some of the measures identified are:
  • Improved daylighting and electrical illumination systems.
  • Reduction of parasitic power requirements in air and water distribution systems.
  • Separate treatment of ventilation and internal thermal loads.
  • Improved delivery of conditioning to where it is needed.
  • Improved part load performance of HVAC components.
  • Water loop heat pump systems.
Information related to the Advanced Energy Design Guide series can be found at

Speakers in the seminars are:
  • Net Zero Energy Building Ideas – The Path Toward Net Zero Energy Use, John W. Mitchell, Ph.D., P.E., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Architectural Perspective as a Bridge to Engineering, Jeff Levine, American Institute of Architects, New York
  • What Has Been Done? Case Study Review, David Hewitt, New Buildings Institute, White Salmon, Wash.
  • Integrated Design Process – Making it Possible, Jeff Levine, American Institute of Architects, New York
  • Daylighting – Advanced Lighting, Daylighting and Controls, Stephen Selkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Distribution Systems – Air, Wayne Reedy, Carrier Corp., Indianapolis
  • Distribution Systems – Water, Stephen Kavanaugh, Ph.D., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and Harvey Sachs, Ph.D., American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Washington, D.C.
  • HVAC/Ventilation, Michael Brandemuehl, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the ASHRAE Winter Meeting, visit

Held with the ASHRAE Winter Meeting is the ASHRAE co-sponsored International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), Jan. 29-31, in Dallas. For more information, visit

Publication date:12/18/2007