ATLANTA - To ensure that buildings are designed to and actually operate at peak efficiency as intended, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is developing tools related to performance measurement and carbon metrics.

ASHRAE, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, and the U.S. Green Building Council are collaborating to provide guidance on measuring and reporting building performance. They are examining what should be measured and in what way to consistently achieve high-performance buildings over time.

The goal is to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing energy use, water use, and indoor environmental quality (IAQ, thermal comfort, acoustics, and lighting) of buildings. Baseline criteria will be established in each of these areas.

“The design community needs a method for evaluating building performance that is objective, consistent, and repeatable across a wide variety of building types and systems,” said Lynn Bellenger, chair of ASHRAE’s Technology Council, which is overseeing both studies. “This undertaking will produce procedures and benchmark performance that designers can use to evaluate their projects and gauge the impact of sustainable design on actual building performance. We have made significant strides in energy modeling and improving building designs - these new tools will help ensure that those successes result in improved indoor environmental quality and reduced water and energy use.”

The initial phase of the study, an extensive literature evaluation, is expected to be completed Sept. 1, 2007.

In other research, ASHRAE is working to provide measures of the carbon emission equivalents of the energy used in buildings (gas, electricity, and other fuels).

While first order estimates are available from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tools, the conversion factors need to be known by region and by time of day, including benchmarks. This would allow accurate tools to be made available to designers to evaluate the carbon footprint of their proposed designs.

“More than ever before, the design community is focused on making wise energy choices early in the design stages,” Bellenger said. “A carbon metrics estimating tool that is specific to regional and time-of-day variations will assist architects and engineers in understanding the impact of those choices and in selecting systems and products that ultimately reduce the building’s carbon footprint.”

Publication date: 08/13/2007