Providing navigation for a sustainable future is the goal of a new research strategic plan developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

The plan outlines ASHRAE's research goals for the next five years. It centers on sustainability, which is defined as "the concept of maximizing the effectiveness of resource use while minimizing the impact of that use on the environment."

"Research and technology are the foundation of ASHRAE on which everything else is built," said John Mitchell, Ph.D., P.E., chair of the Research Advisory Panel that developed the plan.

"With issues related to energy conservation, refrigeration, and indoor air quality facing our industry, our foundation must remain strong."

The plan contains goals in five targeted areas. These include:

Energy And Resources

  • Provide guidance on techniques for working toward achieving net zero energy use by 2015, meaning buildings that consume equal or less energy than they produce on an actual basis.

  • Produce by 2015 new residential and light commercial buildings that have 70 percent less energy use than buildings built at the turn of the millennium, according to ASHRAE Standard 90.2, Energy-Efficient Design of Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

  • Optimize and make consistent ASHRAE Standards 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings; 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality; and 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, to achieve measured and verified high system energy efficiency, with high indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for indoor built environments.

    Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Make improvements in occupant health and comfort that can yield a 20 percent increase in productivity by 2015.

  • Provide an optimal indoor environment for buildings, vehicles, and facilities with respect to comfort, productivity, health, and safety.

  • Provide better understanding of how contagious viruses are transmitted in an indoor environment and develop remediation techniques and equipment to minimize exposure.

    Tools And Applications

  • Develop more effective tools that will improve the productivity of the design process by 25 percent by 2015.

  • Develop dual path standards where paths are prescriptive-based and performance-based.

  • Develop a measurement-based rating system to establish the environmental performance of a building and its system.

  • Provide design guidance for buildings and systems to address the past and expected change in climatic conditions.

    Equipment, Components, And Materials

  • Establish techniques to improve energy efficiency and reliability of heating, ventilating, cooling, and refrigeration systems components.

  • Improve performance and reliability and minimize the environmental impacts of working fluids and materials.

  • Advance ASHRAE's role in the safety and security of food distribution.

  • Develop techniques that reduce the installed energy use of HVACR system auxiliary equipment by 50 percent by 2015.

    Education And Outreach

  • Make the results of ASHRAE-sponsored and cooperative research available to the technical community.

  • Ensure that ASHRAE research has an international impact.

    To download the plan or for more information about ASHRAE's research program, go to

    Publication date: 11/21/2005