ATLANTA — According to results of newly approved research funded by ASHRAE, the application of 30 specific energy savings measures across all building types and climate zones resulted in a near 50 percent reduction in energy usage.

The national weighted change is 47.8 percent more energy efficient than Standard 90.1-2013 based on site energy and 47.8 percent more energy efficient than 90.1-2013 based on source energy.

The question of “How energy efficient can commercial and multifamily buildings become in the near future if first cost is not considered” was explored in ASHRAE 1651-Research Project, “Development of Maximum Technically Achievable Energy Targets for Commercial Buildings: Ultra-Low Energy Use Building Set.”

“The value of establishing such low energy targets for buildings is twofold,” said Jason Glazer, principal engineer for GARD Analytics, which oversaw the project. “These targets will indicate to building design professionals what may be achieved if first cost is not considered and challenge the creativity of those professionals to achieve similar results in actual designs with the real-world constraints of first costs. They also will help advance design guides, standards, and codes by providing an ultimate goal.”

For the project, researchers assembled a list of energy-efficiency measures that can be included in the design of nonresidential buildings. The list included both commonly used and cutting-edge energy-efficiency measures, according to Glazer.

From the resulting list of almost 400 measures, 30 were chosen for additional analysis. Sixteen prototype buildings that were consistent with Standard 90.1-2013, “Energy Efficiency Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential,” across 17 climate zones were used as baseline models. The 30 measures then were individually modeled. Each of the 30 measures, often with many options, was applied to each building and climate combination. In general, the measures were applied in the following order: reduce internal loads, reduce building envelope loads, reduce HVAC distribution system losses, decrease HVAC equipment energy consumption, and major HVAC reconfigurations.

After each measure was applied to each of the 272 building and climate combinations, if the energy consumption was reduced, it remained in the model. After all 30 measures were applied, the projected U.S. national weighted energy consumption for new buildings was nearly cut in half compared to Standard 90.1-2013.

To order ASHRAE 1651-RP, “Development of Maximum Technically Achievable Energy Targets for Commercial Buildings: Ultra-Low Energy Use Building Set,” visit

Publication date: 5/30/2016 

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