ATLANTA – To help engineers respond to environmental challenges, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is working to ensure sustainable design guidance is incorporated in its handbook. ASHRAE is conducting a review of the sustainability content of all handbook chapters and is looking at writing a new chapter on sustainability with a view toward integrated building design in its Fundamentals volume.

"While the word sustainability only recently entered the vocabulary of ASHRAE, the society was involved with sustainable building and HVAC equipment design long before the term was coined," said Norm Maxwell, P.E., chair of the handbook committee.

He noted that ASHRAE has funded research for decades to allow builders and manufacturers to design and build higher-efficiency buildings, HVAC systems, and refrigeration equipment.

In addition to designing systems that will save energy and therefore operating costs, sustainability requires design professionals to take into account the length of service of the equipment that is proposed, he said. The end result must be a total building concept that will not have to be replaced quickly and have a long service life.

Since the 1970s, ASHRAE has been active in renewable technologies for application in buildings. Through development of standards, such as ASHRAE 90 that dates back to the 1970s, ASHRAE has been in the forefront of the design of low energy use buildings.

"Given the current interest in sustainable buildings and technologies and ASHRAE's long history with high-efficiency buildings and HVACR systems, it is appropriate that design guidance related to sustainability be incorporated in the ASHRAE handbook," he said.

To give feedback on incorporating sustainable design guidance in the ASHRAE Handbook, visit

Publication date: 10/02/2006