ATLANTA — ASHRAE and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) have announced their newly published 2016 energy efficiency standard, which contains numerous energy savings measures resulting from industry input. ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2016, Energy Efficiency Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, contains 125 addenda published since the 2013 standard. The 2013 standard currently serves as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes.

This 2016 version is the 10th edition published since the original standard was first published in 1975 during the energy crisis of the United States.

“It is the overall goal of each version to create a consensus standard that saves energy and is technically feasible and cost effective,” said Drake Erbe, chair of the Standard 90.1 committee. “In addition, as a result of a strategic initiative begun in the 2013 cycle, the 2016 version has a new format that we believe will be easier for users, a new way of incorporation of reference material from other standards starting with climate data, and a performance path for compliance that rewards designs for achieving energy cost levels above the standard minimum.”

The standard has made significant formatting changes to improve its use. These include a one-column format for easier reading; exceptions separated and indented, set apart with a smaller font size; all defined terms are italicized; and alternating coloring scheme for table rows.

Some of the most significant technical changes included are as follows:


The mandatory provisions include the addition of envelope verification in support of reduced air infiltration and increased requirements for air leakage to overhead coiling doors.

The prescriptive requirements include increased stringency requirements for metal building roofs and walls, fenestration, and opaque doors.  Requirements for Climate Zone 0 have been added.

Improved clarity of the standard ranges from defining exterior walls to building orientation to clarity around the effective R-value of air spaces


Chilled water plant metering — For the first time, the standard is requiring large electric driven chilled water plants to be monitored for electric energy use and efficiency.

DOAS requirements — Dedicated outdoor air systems were introduced over 25 years ago but there were no rating or efficiency requirements with which to comply. For the first time, this product class does have both efficiency and rating requirements with which they have to comply.

Economizer diagnostics — The standard is implementing requirements that air cooled DX cooling units with economizers have a monitoring system to determine that the air economizer is properly working.

Energy Cost Budget (ECB) and Modeling. A significant change to the application of Appendix G as follows:

Appendix G now can be used as a path for compliance with the standard. Previously Appendix G was used only to rate “beyond code” performance of buildings. This new version of Appendix G can show compliance with the 2016 version of the standard in the following manner:

The proposed building design requires a new metric the Performance Cost Index (PCI) and demonstration that it is less than that shown in Table based on building type and climate zone.

Another change is that the baseline design is now fixed at a certain level of performance, the stringency or baseline of which is expected not to change with subsequent versions of the standard. By this, a building of any era can be rated using the same method. 

Other modifications to Appendix G include: elevator, motor, and refrigeration baselines; changes to the baseline for existing building projects; as well as specific opaque assemblies for the baseline envelope model. Modeling rule changes were also made to heat pump auxiliary heat, economizer shutoff, lighting controls, humidification systems, cooling towers, and the simulation of preheat coils.

The cost of Energy Efficiency Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is $119, ASHRAE members ($140, non-members). To order, visit or contact ASHRAE Customer Contact Center at 800-527-4723 (United States and Canada) or 404-636-8400 (worldwide) or fax 678-539-2129.

Publication date: 11/7/2016

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